Over the weekend I ran the Steamboat Stinger Trail Half Marathon, in Steamboat Springs Colorado. For those of you who don’t routinely follow me, I often use the hashtag #haverunwilltravel because one I try to make it a point to run a race everywhere I travel. Colorado was a strategic layover on my return flight for a work trip I had taken to California.
What makes completing this race exciting are two things. One, I was able to cross a state off my map and Two; I was able to conquer a really difficult challenge…running at elevation.
Being a “low-lander” running in Colorado was a struggle. I know from running in Tahoe last year that there is a physical effect (lead feelings legs) which impact me (and maybe everyone) while running at elevation.
Running in Steamboat Springs was gorgeous! There were sections where I felt like I was in the Sound of Music; and there were sections where I felt like I was in Jurassic Park! In every section, I was warmly welcomed by nature and fellow runners. I don’t know if I would day I was warmly welcomed by the elevation; but I was at least expecting it.
The first mile was rough; getting my breathing under control.
I knew what it felt like and I wasn’t worried. The week prior I hiked to 10,000 ft in preparation; but don’t let me seemingly nonchalant way of talking about the change in elevation fool you into doing this on a whim. It is tough!
If you’ve ever gone under water in the deep end of the pool, the pressure you feel is similar to the feeling of running at an elevation to which you are not acclimated. Not being able to catch my breath could be a really scary thing, if I wasn’t expecting it.
But I was, and I made it. To miles in, I was cruising like normal. Well, almost like normal. IT was still tough, but I was feeling better than the first 100 feet.
it wasn’t until mile 8 that I really felt the effects of running at elevation.
The course, which had been down hill from mile 5 to mile 8 took a 200 foot upswing.
it killed me
The race staff was super helpful. When I signed up, I elected for the full marathon. I knew it would be a struggle and I knew it would be a four to 5 hour journey. After hiking Mt. Baldy the week prior and after having a really awful travel experience two weeks prior, i elected to complete the half, rather than the full. I still has juice in the tank, but I am glad that I made the call to switch. At packet pick up they were really eager to help me switch and it was super seamless!
I am a little bummed that there was no medal. It would have been neat to commemorate the experience; but at the same time…I didn’t win the race. I wasn’t even top 10. I don’t “deserve” a medal…and i’m okay with that.
The participation award conversation is best suited for another blog post.
I think a big part about what made this a really great experience (as with most races) is the support crew / volunteers. The aid stations were stocked very well and the aid station attendants were super friendly and helpful!