Well, well, well, the day has come for my 28th half marathon and completing my goal of running 28 half marathons before turning 28 (which happens in 16 days, happy Birthday month to me!). This goal marked a milestone in my running career and completing this race definitely brought up more emotions and reflective moments than I thought it would but more on that later!
So about 2 weeks ago I realized to meet my goal I was either going to have to run back to back half marathons or I'd have to travel. Since money was a little bit tight travel wasn't an option so back to back race weekends it is!
I used my trusty race sources to find the Backcountry Half Marathon in Highlands Ranch, CO (just south of Denver) and I'm so glad I did. I'm definitely going to tag this race for next year, it's a great way to close out the season!
The race had Friday bib pickup at the Southridge Recreation Center but since Highlands Ranch is pretty out the way I opted for race day bib pickup. The race start wasn't until 9am and it was about an hour drive to the race start. I woke up at 6am, got dressed, and was out the dor by 6:45. I was feeling pretty good but my stomach was feeling weird. I had just been eating too much the week before and I was a little backed up. I was having weird poops that morning.
So I was on the road by 6:45 with coffee and peanut butter toast in hand!
I listened to some Mousestalgia on the drive down and it was a fairly straightforward drive. I got to the start area just before 8, found parking in the nearby neighborhoods, and chilled out for a bit. I walked over to the start to grab my bib and my swag!
I grabbed by bib, got my goodies and then headed back to the car to stay warm and listen to some more podcasts. I was feeling relaxed, my stomach was still a little upset but I was really just here to have fun. The course was going to be pretty difficult so I didn't have any plans or real time goals.
The morning was chilly but it was warming up quickly (thank you sunshine and altitude!) and by the time I left my car I was pretty comfortable in my tank top and shorts. They had a few port-o-potties but there was also the rec center at the bottom of the hill that was open to runners. Real bathrooms = winning!
After making my final bathroom stop I went over to the start area and waited for the start. They made some final announcements and the National Anthem played and you could feel how excited everyone was to get started!
They released us in self-seeded waves and luckily Coloradans are pretty honest so it worked out pretty well. I left with wave 2 and with a final countdown and an air horn we were off!
We looped around the rec center area and then made our way onto the multi-use path to the trail head. Once on the trail we were running through the rolling hills of Highlands Ranch. It was really beautiful. Most of the trail was packed dirt and 2 people ride. There were a few places where it got down to a single lane trail but for the most part it was an awesome trail run. There were 3 water stops (mile 4.5, 7.5, and 11) all with water and Nuun and 2 bathrooms (miles 4.5 and 7) I really wished I had stopped at the miles 7 bathroom but I thought there was one at mile 11, oh well.
Anyways, the uphills were tough and the downhills were pretty fun. Everything you could want from a trail race! We crested a few hills and got a beautiful view of the Denver Metro area, it's really amazing. Be ready for hills but also just a lot of beauty and moments for zen out on the trail!
At the end there was a really nice downhill cruise, despite my stomach still turning a bit I really enjoyed the cruise into the finish. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful course and I was really enjoying finishing this 28th half marathon. There were some vendors at the finish + pancakes and beer, awesome sauce!
As I crossed, I felt more emotions than I thought I would. I was able to reflect on how much has happened in my life since I began running. When I ran my first half marathon, I was a senior at Syracuse and thought I had it all figured out. I was wrong but I've learned so much along the way and grown up so much.
So with that I close out this goal as I approach my 28th birthday!