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Steamboat Springs Half-Marathon: 13.1 Miles for 14 Years

steamboat half pre-race

Grant and I celebrate 14 years of wedded bliss about a week ago, and this year—for the first time since we walked down the aisle—we actually celebrated beyond flowers, a thoughtful dinner, a bar or three of chocolate. (Rituals, it should be noted, that don't happen annually...I have totally forgetten our anniversary more than once.)

Anyway on Friday, I dropped the dog off at the dogsitter, we left the kids at my sister's house, and then motored west and north to Steamboat Springs, one of my favorite mountain towns. Although we were both going to run Steamboat Springs Half-Marathon, the weekend was far from focused on the miles—which is probably why I had such a good race.

And now, because I like neat little packages, here are...

13.1 Reasons I Had Such a Good Race

1. I left my phone off most of Saturday (read: no work, little social media, no stress) and just plodded around with Grant, just like old times. We did a short hike, we ate a long lunch, we spent time in a bookstore. I treated myself to Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by cartoonist Roz Chast, a memoir about her aging parents. Tough topic, but so insightful and good. I devoured it in a few lazy hours (read, drool, read, drool). Just like old times.

2. I did, however, jump on my phone download a bunch of songs from iTunes that I already owned but didn't have on my phone and haven't listened to in a really long time. Everything from Sugarland's Stuck Like Glue—good anniversary tune—to The Traveling Wilburys End of the Line, a long-time fave of mine. Got really excited to listen to music during the race, which I rarely do.

A river as strong as my joy was this weekend.
A river as strong as my joy was this weekend.

3. On Saturday, we also drove the point-to-point course. I'm not usually one to scout a course, but Grant wanted to, and I had nowhere else to be. As we were driving by the foaming Yampa River and fields of baby cows and wildflowers, I gushed, "We are so lucky to be able to do this. So lucky." As much as I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude in re: running, it doesn't always come easily to me. Not on Saturday; my joy was ricocheting through every cell in my body.

One SBS 262 tee + 2 stickers, served up.
One SBS 262 tee + 2 stickers, served up.

4. The SBS 262 logo for the Steamboat Springs marathon; I had to pick SBS up a few momentos since she just kicked off Boston Training. I was so excited to find such deliciously perfect gift. (USPS wil bring them shortly to you, SBS.)

I can also buy you this, SBS, if you want to run your signature race. (She's not a fan of running at altitude.)
I can also buy you this, SBS, if you want to run your signature race. (She's not a fan of running at altitude.)

5. We had a lovely, fun dinner with old friends on Saturday night. I drank more wine than I should've; I laughed like I needed to (true story: when you live in a mountain town, bears come IN your house); I breathed in the crisp spring air and petted their aloof cats when they'd let me. When we got back to our place at 9:30, I went to bed instead of worrying about my race number and the like. Instead, I set my alarm to give myself an extra 10 minutes in the morning.

Cows. So many cows. And horses. And buffalo, including a baby buffalo.
Cows. So many cows. And horses. And buffalo, including a baby buffalo.

6. When decibal-level-100 thunderstorms woke me up at 4:30 a.m., I decided I would run in the rain, if need be, and worrying about it any more wasn't worth my energy.

7. I (optimistically) brought my sunglasses to the race, and the skies cleared. I needed them almost immediately. Gonna be that kind of day, I thought to myself. Sweet.

8. I didn't wear my Soleus Fit GPS. I know the numbers can be a very useful training and racing tool, but I also know I get way too hung up on what the numbers say—and I let them dictate my mood. Not this time. I wore my Soleus Dash, a basic sports watch and hit "lap" every time I passed a mile marker. So I wasn't totally running naked, but I wasn't looking at my wrist every nano-second. I'd look down and see, "5:14" or somesuch and think, "Cool. I'm likely past the halfway point of this mile." I didn't know my splits until I saw the mile signs. When I saw them, I wasn't too emotional because...

Image from my Strava profile. The three highest blue points were my short walk breaks; everything else was a relatively even effort.
Course profile from my Strava account. The three highest blue points were short walk breaks; everything else was a relatively even effort.

9. I ran the race tuned into my effort, so I knew my splits were honest and right-on. The first eight miles were mostly downhill, and I knew that could slay my quads if I got too greedy for gravity. So I kept repeating the same advice Sarah and I  give at expos: The first half of a half-marathon is all about taking care of yourself. Going at a very maintainable pace. Eating and drinking properly. Not letting the adrenadline and fresh legs get the best of you.

I didn't really hold back, but I didn't go for it. I wanted to save my legs for the 2-mile-ish climb around 8, and then see where it left me.

Over the race, my mile splits ranged from 8:28 (mile 10-11: the steep decline, where I did go for it) to 9:38 (mile 8-9: the biggest climb). I'll admit: Solid splits like those are about the most stable thing I've produced in any aspect in my life in the last few months.

10. I didn't let myself get caught up in the people around me. There were a few guys—one man in Born to Runish sandals in particular—that I kept yo-yo'ing back and forth. On another day, I'd turn it up just to put them behind me—and likely see buzz by me again around mile 12—but on Sunday, I kept telling myself, "Run your own race, Dimity. Your own race." Music definitely helped with that perspective, by the way.

11. Extra wine notwithstanding, I fueled properly. I knew running 13.1 miles at nearly 7,000 feet would leave me, a heavy sweater, with a raging headache. I chugged bottles of Nuun proactively all day Saturday, pumping up my electrolyte levels. On the course, I walked through the aid stations and made sure I got a full cup of sports drink down my hatch. (And I followed SBS' GU at mile 4, 8, and 11 strategy; the new chocolate peanut butter flavor definitely put a spring in my step.)

Cooling down post-race. (Powering up? Not so much. At least for a few more weeks.)
Cooling down post-race. (Powering up? Not so much. At least for a few more weeks.)

After the race, I drank another bottle of fruit punch Nuun, grabbed some PowerIce—frozen electrolyte-rich bars—and had a sugar-free, crazy-packed-with-protein-and-natural-healing-ingredients  Superhero Smoothie from Joose, a local company.

12. I hung tough. That last mile, in the full Colorado sun as we came into town on the main street, was not fun. Unlike the previous 12 miles, I looked at my watch at least 20 times; my plan was to get five minutes into the mile, then try to run harder.

So No dice on the "harder" part until I knew I had less than 100 steps to the finish line. (It's one of those finish lines on a straight road that you can see for way too long...seems to be a signature of mountain town races.) Anyway, I looked down, saw 1:59:16, and decided I had to shoot for sub-2 hours. I fired those jets up and finished in 1:59:46.

"You looked so strong at the finish," Grant said, "Did you run the whole mile that way?"

"So far from it," I laughed. (Here's hoping I had enough energy to smile for a good finish line pic.)

(And if you're going to ask if we ever run together, we don't. Tried it twice, and it wasn't pretty either time.)

Postcard for running.
Stop drooling and run Steamboat! (In my dreams, I'm moving there next week.)

13. My entire race, minus the last mile, was a delicious round-up of memories. Everything from our first hike with Amelia when she was Bjorn-sized to the time our bassett hound ate an entire pineapple, leaves, spines, and all. Around mile 11, I started thinking about the parallels between marriage and running. It's probably worth a book, but here's the quick and dirty: Both are incredibly freakin' hard, and both are incredibly worth it.

.1. And as I ran in a cool shadow with wildflowers on the road next to me and a raging river nearby, I realized, yet again, how lucky to be able to run—and how lucky I am to have my dear Grant waiting for me at the finish line.

30 responses to “Steamboat Springs Half-Marathon: 13.1 Miles for 14 Years

  1. Hey there, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer,
    it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Other then that, wonderful blog!

  2. Hi!! I just ran across your blog while looking for motivation to get back to running after running my first half in Steamboat this summer. I loved reading this post about the SBS half and now thinking about the great time I had to get me out and running again. Thanks 🙂

  3. Just a wonderful blog post. So inspiring yet real. I loved it. I certainly would not run a half marathon with my husband either!! lol.

  4. What a sweet post. I think it’s awesome that you and your husband have running in common- especially since it’s something you’re so passionate about! And you both have freaking amazing legs! 🙂 Congrats on a great race and to 14 years. That’s a huge accomplishment!

  5. Awesome post as usual! I love your strategy- hitting the lap button at each mile! What a beautiful setting for a race! I could live there!

  6. I loved this! Reminds me of a couple running trips I took with my DH. Such good memories. I’m do glad you had such a great weekend!

  7. Dimity,
    This post made my day. You seem to have really found a groove in your running these days and it is both inspiring and encouraging to see. I really feel the joy in your steps. I know they aren’t all like that, but the ones that are, they are so sweet. I am in the midst of another depressive episode and every time I run I feel better, but dang it is so hard to get out that door. I am working very hard to just go and quit looking for that moment when I’m going to “feel” it. Right now I can’t “feel” anything most days. But the more I sweat…changing medicine as well…takes awhile…I’ll get there one day. Thanks for sharing your joy. Your life is a testament to your dedication and hard work.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Mary Katherine. The more steps you put in, the closer you’re going to get to feeling balanced and well. Glad you’re so aware of where you are, and I’m confident you’ll turn a corner toon. Hang in there friend. xo

  8. Glad you had a great day. I ran it too (I met you at the expo on Saturday). Just ran happy with three other empty-nest-BAMRs and enjoyed virtually every step (except the last couple of miles in the blazing sun). Such a beautiful race! Congrats on your wedding anniversary.

  9. Happy Anniversary…and wishes for many more! I had tears in my eyes after reading the recap of your race weekend with Grant! (Also, congrats on breaking the 2 hour mark…I ran the half Oklahoma City Memorial in April with the same goal…final time 1:59:53…)

  10. We got married in 2000, too. I thank God every year because it helps me keep track of what # anniversary we are on!! Glad you had a great weekend and a positive race.

  11. Happy Anniversary!! Hubby and I recently made a weekend in SF (and the Rock N Roll Half) a somewhat romantic weekend away. it was super nice! I think we (and you) should do it more often!

  12. What a great and inspiring post! Congratulations on both 14 years of marriage and what appears to be an incredible weekend. I am currently looking for inspiration since every run I have gone on recently seems to end in frustration. I just don’t have it in me no matter the distance or pace. I’ve not experienced this in a very long time and am trying to find my love of running again to enjoy those miles alone where I just have time to think. Maybe running without my garmin and thinking about how fast or slow is something I should try.
    Congrats again Dimity!

    1. Drop the watch, Janice–and maybe even take a week or two off. Sounds like you’re burned out and/or stale, and the more you try to force it, in my opinion, the harder it becomes. Lose the watch, crank the tunes (if that’s your thing), and enjoy your steps. Go for as long as you feel good; stop while you’re still feeling a groove, so you can go back out the next time in a good place. If you still feel yuck, like I said: a week or two may work wonders. Take good care.

  13. What a lovely, joy-filled post! Happy anniversary and congrats on your race! I recently ran the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon and felt the same way about the gorgeous course — so lucky to be there (I made my family drive the course with me AFTER the race so I could show them how pretty it was!)

  14. Wonderful blog entry! I enjoyed reading this so much. I was interested in your comment about drinking nun, sweating, and getting a headache. I recently did a 10k on a hot day (During the RW Heartbreak Hill Half festival) and finished pretty easily (ran with my dad) but hours later had such a headache and nausea that I went to an urgent care. I want to avoid this happening again! I thought it was related to caffeine but after reading your post I suspect it had to do with electrolytes. How can i avoid this happening again? How early before a race do you start drinking nuun? It never occurred to me to drink that other than just during the run. That said I only drank water during the race and a small bottle of Gatorade after which I thought would be enough to replace sodium, but maybe not…..

    1. Hey Stephanie: I’d definitely look into Nuun. I drink it all day long the day before a race, and afterwards, I drop two tablets into one water bottle, drink that, and then have 1 or 2 more bottles with a tablet. Sounds like alot, but it’s the only thing that has cured my headaches after long efforts. (And yes, it even happens after a 10K or other tempo run.) I’d give it a whirl if I were you, and pay attention to salt also the day before: pretzels, salt your food a little more, etc. If you want to try Nuun, you can grab 20% off with code AMRNUUN at Nuun.com. Good luck!

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