Snow, ice, a dodgy foot and a prolonged absence from the road racing scene made for a rather apprehensive mood at the start of the Ralston Creek Half-Marathon this morning. Luckily I awoke to a surprisingly cooperative foot and a predictably inaccurate weather forecast with light winds and more of a frost/ice covering than a snow pack. Game time.
Mike, Ginna and I, together with our private race photographer (Sike) and cheerleader (Kea) made the short drive down to Arvada, Colorado for what I hoped would be some good race execution and psyche therapy for the LA Marathon in a month’s time. I certainly needed some therapy after last month’s disastrously low mileage due to the inevitable pre-marathon injury season which this time around brought some hamstring niggles and a random metatarsal injury. Prepare to suffer, body.
I started with an unusual bought of self control as you can see from the relatively mild look of suffering on my face at about mile 2.
Mike, clearly a pro, shows how not to suffer at mile 2. Check out that smile, it’s almost as though he’s enjoying himself!
Ginna, too! What’s with all this smiling?! I thought we were supposed to be suffering!
The course took us along the Ralston Creek cycle paths which were partially covered in a slippery frost making for some careful running. It was mostly ok except, of course, if you wanted to turn. Luckily I don’t have much sense or sympathy for my personal well-being so just gunned it anyway and hoped for the best.
Facial suffering score at mile 4 – medium.
Apparently nobody told Mike he was supposed to be hurting at this point as he smiles his way past mile 5.7.
Ginna powers over the Hill of Doom only to be faced with the Hill of Despair about a mile further down the road. I kid you not! This sucker had switchbacks…5 of them! Unacceptable. This did not bode well for the facial suffering score.
I told you so. At mile 9.2, facial suffering was now high. There were now 3 of us vying for the two remaining spots on the podium.
Yep, you guessed it. Still smiling. Someone must have told him there would be banana bread at the finish line. Seems the guy behind him wasn’t such a fan of banana bread judging by his face.
The final stretch. After finding a last minute burst of energy, I powered up the final hill to grab a 10 second lead on my companion. The body would not be pleased.
100m to go and facial suffering has reached extreme levels.
Did you expect anything else…. Mike finishes with a smile on his face! I am hoping this reflects the end of the internal struggle for survival he endured in his battle for 6th place.
Banana bread. Motivation as standard. Mike apologies to anyone finishing after 6th place who was not able to appreciate this wondrous snack. He may have eaten the whole loaf.
Happy it’s all over! 2nd (1:15:25) and 6th (1:18:07) places.
The podium boys.
Ginna cruises in for 7th woman (1st AG) in 1:33:09. Not too shabby considering she was holed up all week blowing boogers.
In case you were wondering, this is the standard half-marathon finishing pose. Head down, don’t puke.
The East Coast crew, holding the vessels of our success. One thing is for sure, these will contain beer very shortly.
All in all, a great day out which was made even more satisfying with my first ever cash prize! It should just about pay off the ridiculous pair of Hoka One One’s I just bought in a fit of despair to try and save my gammy foot from further abuse. I particularly appreciated the race day sign up option which Mike took advantage of. A rare and missed feature of most events these days.
Finally, some obligatory pictures of the cheering squad. Here Kea looks on… very concerned about Mike’s ability to smile for 13.1 miles.