Saturday, September 9, 2017

Under Armour Mountain Running Series - Copper Mountain 2017

This race was my first half marathon (except in a half Ironman), my first time to race on a mountain, and my first time to race with elevation and altitude. I live just north of Houston where elevation is sea level and my runs barely include a total gain of 100 feet. Ha! I quickly earned the nickname "Flatlander". But you know me - I love a challenge. And I have such a love for the mountains!
I got to meet Jenna McHugh! We had so much fun prerace! Probably a bit too much for a day before a race lol. But I love this girl!!
I got my flat runner ready! I wore Under Armour capri and top, OrangeMud  Endurance Hydration pack, Rudy Project sunglasses, Smartwool socks, HokaOneOne Stinson ATR 4 trail running shoes, Patagonia wind shell (Thank you to my friend Tara for making me run out and get one before the race! I needed it!), Garmin 935 watch, Road ID.
The start was a later morning start which I really loved. I met up with Jenna McHugh and Crystal Seaver before the race and Jesse Jamnik who took our pics like a champ!
This pic is in the beginning of the race where my smile depicts how happy I am to make it past the very steep ascent that begins the race. I wish I had a pic of that! Ha!
 The race climbs a total of 3,329 feet. And I felt everyone of them. It was a very tough climb for me.
By mile 1 my heart rate was beating out of my chest. By mile 2 I was feeling nauseous. It was around this time I was texting my hubby, my mom, and my bestie Jessica wondering if I should or even could go on!  At mile 3 my heart was pounding in my head. By mile 4 I was urinating blood.

My friend and ultra runner Heather Scott was texting me and told me to load up on sugar and carbs. I did and that made a huge difference in how I felt. Her advice throughout the race was so helpful in getting me to the finish line.

My friend and trail runner Janice was texting me words of encouragement throughout and this was just what I needed!

 At mile 6 the cold rain began. 
At mile 7 we reached the top! This race had the best aid stations! The volunteers were amazing and there was always a buffet of treats for us!
It was cold and pouring rain at the top of the mountain! You can't tell in this pic but it was coming down hard. We began our descent. At mile 8 it began to hail. And at mile 9 we stopped at a lodge in the thunder, hail, and crazy wind. I needed to urinate but was having difficulty. Shortly after, a truck came by to ask if we wanted a ride in, but we refused and kept on pushing down the mountain. By mile 11 the sun started to come out. We experienced such crazy extreme weather changes out there it was unbelievable!
The last mile in seemed like we would never reach that finish line. But there it was!! I'm not sure I have ever been so happy to see a finish line!
 And I was so grateful to have Jenna by my side!

The mountain challenges you in ways you can't completely understand until you are up there. It breaks you down and it builds you up. It chews you up and it makes you whole at the same time. I was filled with doubt and hope simultaneously. I left blood, sweat, and tears on that mountain. Literally.
Like every finish line I was overcome with emotions. This finish line was one I wasn't sure I would see. And I have never had that much doubt in a race before. This race will always be a special one for me.

After the tears came so much joy and happiness!

I am so thankful these three were on the mountain with me! Crystal was such a source of encouragement, Jesse would make me laugh, and Jenna never stopped believing in me! The mountain bonds you in such an inexplicable way. And each of them will hold a special place in my heart.

After the race I passed a very large clot and several smaller ones, and I was able to urinate but it did not look good! I have a renal biopsy the day after I get back. I NEED some answers!
Post race Jenna and I went out for a really large meal to refuel and celebrate our victory!!
Yep you read that right - 99th place! I came in dead last! My previous trail race, just two months ago, I was 1st in my age group and 3rd overall woman to cross the finish line. But you know what?  I couldn't be more proud of this finish! I met a lot of obstacles out on that course. There were physical, medical, topographical, and weather challenges that were beyond my control! And I finished despite them all!!

The Under Armour Mountain Racing Series is made up of three races featuring 7 distances. There is Cascade Volcano in Mt. Bachelor, Oregon; Appalachians in Killington, Vermont; and Rocky Mountains in Copper Mountain, Colorado. I really hope I have the opportunity to do more of these! It was an experience I will never forget!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Copper Mountain Resort

I was invited to Copper Mountain Resort for the Under Armour Mountain Running Series. I got in Thursday afternoon, the race was on Saturday, and I left Sunday afternoon. The resort was gorgeous!! This is the view from my balcony!
And I spent every minute I could on the mountain!

Day 1 - I got in late afternoon after a long day of travel and headed straight to the mountain for a hike! It was heaven!!

Day 2 - Back to the mountain!!
I learned a lot on this mountain and I realized I have so much more to learn!
Cannot beat the views!
FORMIDABLE: The mountain or me?!? I'm going to have to say the mountain this time! Ha! I made it 10,456 feet elevation and climbed 1,257 feet! But I'm not going to lie it was the descent that got me! I ended up caught in a rainstorm and as I was heading down I took a wrong turn. I found myself on a black diamond and thought this will be fun! You know how I love a challenge! I had trekking poles in my bag, so I got them out and headed down (I thought I was done lol) and I was so proud of myself. Then I quickly realized the hardest part was ahead of me. Needless to say I fell hard twice and ended up scooting down that mountain on my butt! I always love a good challenge, but I tend to bite off a little more than I can chew sometimes. But in the end I can say I had a blast and I am proud of myself for making it down that mountain!

Let me just say that my Under Armour tights and top help up like a champ out there! I sloshed thru streams. I ran in cold rain. I got wet and they kept me dry and warm. But most of all I slid down a rocky mountain on my butt in white tights and not a stain or a snag or a tear! Pretty incredible!

And that wasn't enough for me! Ha! I met up with Jenna and I decided after tackling the mountain I needed to tackle an obstacle course! This is out of my comfort zone but I gave it a go! It was fun! Jenna was a total champ!!

I realize in hindsight this may not have been the best way to spend the day before a race! Ha! But you know what?!? I had a great time!

See my next post for race details.....