Rocking the Rim Rock Marathon

I feel like this is the moment I’ve been waiting for and trust me I’m so excited to say that I did it! I RAN A MARATHON! Yeah! I also can’t help but fight the “What’s next?!?” feeling. I think that means I’m officially a crazy runner person.

There were times while I was running that I know I was thinking… never again… but now that I’ve had a few days to reflect I’ve forgotten most of the pain. Rim Rock will not be my last, but it will always be my first.

This recap probably would have been slightly different had I written it on Sunday, but I’m going to try to recall all of my come to god moments in as much detail as possible. They are part of the fun of running, after-all!

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The Rim Rock Marathon is held in Fruita, Colorado and the course goes through  the insanely gorgeous Colorado National Monument. This year the race happened on Saturday, November 4. A date that seemed so far away when I started this journey a few months ago.

I’ve been training for this race since July! On and off training for something since February. Training for a full marathon is hard and, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, time consuming, but I trust the process. It was so worth it. I went into this race feeling super prepared. The course was challenging. Armed with my training, a perfect playlist and perfect weather, I had the upper hand. I was not thinking about my time during the race but I am proud that I came in with a time of 4 hours: 57 minutes: 37 seconds.

The race sold out at 550 participants (full, half and relay included) and according to the organizers, this is the biggest turnout yet. 107 of us ran the full marathon. From the beginning it was already much different than the larger races I’ve run, no expo, no fancy swag, no corrals.

At 6:45am on Saturday morning all of the marathon runners piled into a school bus and began the trek into the Monument. They dropped us off halfway up a hill in the middle of the monument, in the dark. I couldn’t tell you where we were. Actually I could tell you because there is a map, but at that moment I had no idea.

 

I did my stretches and warm ups, ate a Larabar, took a few pictures, turned on my playlist, then switched my phone to airplane mode. I wasn’t nervous, just a little unsure of what I was getting myself into. There was no official starting line. The Assistant Mayor of Fruita and the Colorado Mesa track coach sent us off with the shot of a handgun at 7am.

There wasn’t a true sunrise that morning. It was cloudy and perfectly cool. As the morning sky lightened, the monument revealed itself. Brilliant red, brown and orange rock formations stood grandly in juxtaposition to the deep canyons that they themselves produced. It was going to be me, my body and my thoughts, traversing this incredible landscape for the next 4-5 hours.

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Something happens when your eyes meet the landscapes out here. Since I moved to Colorado I’m constantly in awe when I literally feel emotions conjured up simply by seeing the mountains. You can almost feel them living and breathing. They can change you. I thought about this every step of the way. The monument became this force that I wanted to harness yet control.

I couldn’t begin to document what was going through my head at each mile. I tried not to think of it in terms of individual miles, especially at the beginning. I knew that the course had some challenging uphill portions including 2,600 feet of elevation gain in the first 4 miles. What I didn’t know is that pretty much the entire first half was uphill! I’m so glad we decided not to drive the course the day before because I would psyched myself out.

The first 5 miles were no doubt the worst of the uphill, but I really had to focus when 6, 7, 8 and so on continued uphill. I stopped at almost every aid station along the course. I ate a couple of gels, a waffle, and some gummy bears along the way. So much water, so much Gatorade. I usually avoid Gatorade but it was a lifesaver.

The whole second half of the race is downhill. Those running the half marathon get a full downhill race. For the marathoners, it was a long awaited and welcomed treat. I tried to make up time on the downhill portions but I was cautious not to push my limits. Even on a downhills I didn’t want to see paces that I never hit in training.

For me, the last 6 miles weren’t the hardest. The last 6 miles felt like a victory lap. The hardest part was 16 through 20. These are the miles when I had to dig deep and pull out the affirmations – you can do this… you’re already doing this… you are a badass…

The last .3 miles were also tough! According to my Garmin I had already hit 26.2 but the finish line was not yet in sight. Finally I saw some goats, then some people and then there it was – FINISH. I sped up and blew through the finish line then made it straight to Jim who was waiting with dozen roses and a beer mug. That’s my man 🙂

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I was alone for a large portion of the race. For this time and this setting, I preferred that. There were few spectators and few other runners. Few distractions. It was meditative.

I thought about the last couple of months and years and how much my life has changed.

I thought about how lucky I was to be in Fruita, Colorado in this breathtaking space.

I thought about my amazing husband who deals with my 5am wakeup calls, my long Sunday runs, my weird diets and constant need for butt massages. He never questions me, he tells me I’m crazy sometimes, but he’s always rooting for me.

I thought about my dogs, my family and my friends.

For my Rim Rock playlist I used my old go-to’s and asked friends to share a song or two with me so that I could think of them during the race. I stole this idea from someone and I definitely plan on doing it again. I put the playlist on shuffle and by a stroke of luck, ended up with an impeccably curated soundtrack for my run.

Knocked Loose, The Gospel, a hardcore song chosen by my hubby, came on around mile 4 when I felt like the uphill would never end. At one point the lyrics go… “F*ck, f*ck, f*ck…” Algiers came on around mile 5, when I was still on the Underside of Power and the uphill was still going strong.

At mile 8, ODB, Got Your Money gave me a much needed lift.

Around mile 11 or 12 I hit a point where I felt like I had crested the monument. It literally felt like I was running on the rim of it. The song Tezeta (Nostalgia) by Ethiopian jazz artist Mulatu Astatke came on up there. I had never heard this song before and the friend who recommended it said she hoped it didn’t mess up my pace, but it was absolutely perfect at that moment. Seriously, just listen to that song and pretend you’re looking out at this and imagine how you would feel!

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Around mile 18 Pretty Lights, I Know The Truth came on and then Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now. It was all downhill from here. I picked up my pace and the music picked up. I was actually going to do this, I was going to finish a marathon.

In the final stretch Dead Cross, Idiopathic came on and I powered through. Kelly Clarkson, Since U Been Gone was playing as I crossed the finish line. Don’t judge, it’s a great running song!

It was truly perfect. Here’s the playlist if you’re interested in checking it out.

Melissa’s Rim Rock Playlist 

 

 

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