|Glacial Valley in Glacier National Park|
Before my race I decided to do a little sight-seeing and head up to Glacier National Park. It’s a beautiful park and hiker’s paradise! Did a bit of hiking around, but since I had a race coming up in a few days I kept the hikes 6 miles and under. I hiked to a lot of waterfalls and lakes. A lot of the pictures in this blog are what I took while out traveling and hiking the park.
Stayed in a nice lodge higher up in the Whitefish Mountains for most of the trip. Spent the 4th of July evening out watching a spectacular fireworks display over Whitefish Lake.
On my trip I was lucky enough to spot a couple of bears, one grizzly, one large black bear and a bobcat on the run. Also saw several mountain goats, elk and deer.
Northwestern Montana was having a bit of a heat wave starting up when we arrived, so when I heard that on race day there was a high chance of temps in 100 degrees, my hopes of finally running a bit cooler marathon were dropped.
At least at 6 A.M. on race day when we started the run the temps were perfect and a tad cool. The race started to a huge display of fireworks, which were much easier to hear than see since the sun was on the rise.
The race started on a country road, to each of my sides were beautiful mountains and in-between were gorgeous rolling hills of farms and ranches. I only got a couple miles into the race before the sun was up over the mountain and beginning to heat everything up.
|Glacial Valley View|
Eventually our direction of south turned west and we headed toward the mountains. Before the halfway point we were running on a beautiful pine tree lined road right up next to the mountain and forest. Occasionally as the trees would part you would catch a view of the green valleys and Clark River below and in the distance our final destination the city of Missoula.
The course wasn’t just pretty it was fairly flat or just the gentlest rolling hills the first half, then he second half was mostly flat with very gradual uphill the rest of the way. When we hit the mountain we did get our biggest hill just after we passed the 13 mile marker, it was QUITE the climb and lasted a few miles as we reached even greater views of the large river valley below.
When I hit the 13.2 mile mark, it marked not only half the race over. But also reached the half-way point of my goal 50 marathons in 50 states + D.C. goal. I took a moment and realized how far I have come over the past year and a half, all the states I have visited and all of the amazing races I have run. I also thought about the thousands of miles on foot I have run in combined training and racing while working on this goal. The thought of the thousands of miles ran was too tiring a mindset to think on while in the middle of a race (LOL) so I tossed the reflections aside and continued on with the current race.
I had a bit of difficulties around mile 15 and a half. It set me back a little and really made it difficult to get back into the race. Unfortunately it also messed with my mind and well to put it short, I had a group of several miles after that, that my train of thoughts hurt me rather than helped me. (Which isn’t good since the general theory is your body gets you half way; your mind gets you through the 2nd half in a marathon.)
It wasn’t really until mile 22 that I was finally able to get it together again to get things back to where they should be to get myself to the end. Unfortunately, by this point I had slowed my pace so much for so many miles that I had already lost too much time, and there really wasn’t anything I could do but finish at this point. This race would go down as my worst ever as far as time. But on the bright side I finished in a qualifying time, and with some races that is all that matters!
The heat didn’t really bother me much; oh I had a few moments here and there that I was wishing a cool breeze would come. But for the most part, I handled the dry heat just fine and finished long before the day hit 100! The volunteers were amazing, I absolutely loved the ice cold cloth and bottle water a lady in a jeep handed me at mile 17, and the sour gummy bears and oranges they gave me at mile 20. The water and Gatorade stops were always well manned and had plenty of liquid available.
When we reached the town of Missoula and even out around the mountain areas, several homes, well more dozens of homes had sprinklers set out for runners if they needed a little cooling. They also had plenty of ice, which I loved to use to fill up in my hat and dump the rest down the sports bra to slowly melt and cool me off:) But the volunteers attitudes were fabulous and very friendly, made me feel VERY welcomed in their city.
It was one marathon and course that I would definitely run again if the opportunity comes up in the future! I had a great trip, got some hiking and fishing in and saw lots of wildlife. On the way home we took a more scenic drive back and drove through the Bitterroot Valley, and beautiful Idaho forests filled with lots and lots of pronghorn. Even stopped off at Crater of the Moon National Monument, which was fun to see, even though it was very hot. Got out and did a little steep hiking up a black volcano dome which kicked my butt after not yet being recovered from the 26.2 I ran the day before. But I am glad I did it.
You would think that after running 26 states and 33 marathons I would have learned everything I need too. Wrong!
The race in Montana was a little eye opening in a couple of aspects, and made me realize that I need to change a few things, and incorporate new and different training. I now have an exactly 8 week break before my next marathon. Longest break between races that I have had in a year and a half. I plan on using it to my full advantage and bumping up my training, putting in speed work and well to put it short I am going to let my dad train me and use his expertise to bring me up to hopefully a higher level of running and begin seriously drop my marathon times quite a bit. I have decided that it’s not only wanted, but needed to help me put less strain on my body. Plus, because of the fall line-up that I have decided to do, I need to step it up a notch or two or three. Teach my body to accept more frequent pain, and to be able to perform more marathons closer together and teach the body how to run the best I can even when it’s tired. So wish me luck!!
|View of Glacier in Glacier National Park|