So, after not having class on Friday, my roommate Loren and I head up to Colorado to camp, race and meet some nice mountain folk. A nice 4 hour drive and we are in Pagosa Springs checking in to receive our race packet. After that, we head out of this quaint little town towards the race start, and park my 4Runner at the designated trailhead for an easy 8 miles on the course. The altitude is at a lush green 7300' with lovely pine trees and single track trails heading up to about 7800' to where the cows are at pasture. We run easy, spotting a few wild creatures on the trail, and hope to see some Turkey, since the name of the half marathon/marathon is the Turkey Track Marathon and Half Marathon. But, none are spotted. We turn around and head back to my truck to get the camping gear, as we are going to set up camp by the start on a nice little snipers hill... Once that's accomplished, we head back to town for dinner.
We narrowed it down to two options for dinner, (1) go to the pre-meal dinner for ribs and pasta at a outrageous tourist price, or (2) head to the grocery store and pick up provisions for dinner and post race munches. We decided on the latter, and grabbed a bunch of grub for a reasonable price. The next few decisions would turn this trip into a crazy adventure...
We had the food for dinner, but needed a place to eat. So instead of just eating in the parking lot, we found an open pasture. We finished up our meal, and had to find a place to dispose of our trash. The most logical place would be the nearest gas station. We see one a discription cross the highway and head through the intersection. This is where some; for lack of a harsh description, women, coming from the opposite lane decided to turn her car directly at us and slam into my driver side door and wheel well! She had no turn signal, and zero thought of braking as she haphazardly struck my vehicle. The police showed up instantly, and took a report, as they suspected her of being under the influence, as her last known location was a restaurant bar. Luckily, no one was hurt, but I'm sure she just didn't know what the hell was going on, since her drunken ass stayed in the car for over 30 minutes as she complained that she's on new medication for her high blood pressure. Anyways, the police wrote her a ticket for negligence, and who knows what else.
After that ordeal, my truck got towed to a auto shop at around 11pm. The damage was a busted up driver side fender, a door that won't shut all the way, and for some apparent reason, my rear tire blew up and deflated. So, I needed realignment done to the front tire, and a spare tire on the back. I would make due with the door. We were out of there and barely driving back to our campsite by midnight. I parked my truck were the start would be, and we hiked up to hill to the tent for a brief nights rest before the race.
About 6 hours later, we woke up to race volunteers setting up and rocking out to some music. We broke down the tent and marched down the hill in plain sight as the early race participants and volunteers were snickering as we packed our gear back into my beat up looking Toyota 4Runner. By the scrutinizing eyes scanning us and the damage of my truck, all they needed to see was our New Mexican license plate to make sense of the entire situation. Once that ended, Loren and I warmed up and got ready for the race to start.
Once the signal for us to start occurred, we headed up the longest hill of the entire race within the the first mile. I took over the lead and kept it all the way to the first aid station at around mile 4.8. I kept looking at my watch and to figured out my pace as I made it to the aid station. With the hill and the gradual downhill and other slight hills, I figured I would be around 6:10 pace or so and be at the aid station in around 30 minutes. And I was there as estimated. This is where things continued to worsen for me. I was suppose to make a turn to start a loop, but missed it and ran off towards the Full Marathon course. I didn't see any markers until it was too late, and I was at the wrong aid station. At the time, I thought I was at the right station and asked which way to go, instead of asking them "is this the half marathon course?". They sent me off in what looked like the correct route, with landmarks described to me in detail. I kept running, and running, looking at my watch wondering when am I going to see some familiar trails? The watch kept ticking away well past my project time of around 1:20 for the 13.1 miles on trails. Once I got to about 1:26 I just figured this course could be much harder than I anticipated. But I finally reached another aid station. A full marathon aid station...
The volunteer there told me they've been looking for me and that the quickest way back was to follow the trail directly to the right heading south. I ask how far is it back and he told me "5 miles."! I had easily gone 13 miles at that point, and just figured this might as well serve as my long run... So I got on the trail and headed back to the finish. I was greeted with very apologetic race crew and congratulated me on winning the "30k race". It was pleasant to be back and see that Loren won as he was getting a massage. I knew, that if I couldn't win, at least Loren can win this thing! And, only after a few moments of refueling, I started to feel pretty tired. So, I stubbled back to my self reflection of a motor vehicle, as my truck looked the way I felt. Slightly leaning to one side, with a tore apart frame, a borrowed tire, and a look of satisfaction that it's finally over... but not quite. We still had the drive home, which was uneventful and windy. All in all, it was still a grand adventure, and Loren and I took home some hardware, as the winner received a small statue of a man running, made out of railroad iron stakes and Turkey looking feet! I got just got a Coke for my first experience of a trail half marathon!