This was the inaugural running of this race. It was organized by a couple of women from the area, also Half Fanatics members like me, which means they're crazy about running - and now staging - half marathons. Every aspect of this event clearly had a woman's touch to detail. Fun emails, fun posts at their Facebook page, pre-race breakfast, post-race lunch, dinners, brunches, beer outings, winery tours, Colorado National Monument tour...so much to see and do, that sitting in a hotel room was definitely not an option!
|Museum of Western Colorado|
|A neat stagecoach...if there'd been someone else there, I'd|
have climbed in and had them take my photo!
Afterward, I walked back over to Main Street Bagel and bought a sandwich to take back to my room; half for lunch, half for dinner later that evening.
Then it was time to get off my feet, find a movie on TV and chill out before the race the next day.
Race day morning was clear and cold, with temperatures in the low 30's at sunrise. I ate breakfast - Cheerios, fresh raspberries and blackberries, and a banana - then got dressed, donning my "moderately cold weather" running gear which consists of capris, long-sleeve shirt, gloves. I pulled on a lightweight fleece, one that was near the end of its life, knowing I'd probably be abandoning it somewhere along the race route as the temps warmed up. A quick inventory of what I needed - bib, racing chip, kleenex, gum, room key - and I was out the door. It was a 1 mile walk to the start line area, but it helped keep me warm and got the blood circulating prior to the race start.
While waiting for the start, I struck up a conversation with a young woman from the Denver area. The Eastern Slope had a snow storm move in on Friday (we had rain in Grand Junction) and a section of I-70 between the Eisenhower tunnel and Idaho Springs was closed for a while during the day. Fortunately this woman had seen the forecast and left after work on Thursday rather than waiting to drive over on Friday. Good decision!
Then we were turned loose and on our way! An absolutely gorgeous route that took us east for a mile along the paved trail that runs alongside the Colorado River. We ran across a foot bridge and up a steep switchback path into a beautiful little park that gave us a beautiful view across the river toward Grand Junction. Around the perimeter of the park, then back down the hill, across the bridge and then back west. We passed the starting point at mile 3 and continued west along the river trail, a breath-taking view of the Colorado National Monument across the river to our left on the outbound leg. Beautiful!!
|The race route (data from my Garmin GPS watch)|
At mile 8 we did a big turnaround loop on a short unpaved trail then headed back east toward the finish line 5 miles down the trail. Now we had the river and the Monument on our right side. I started to notice many water fowl in the river, quacking, honking and diving for food. Mesmerizing! Along the way I noticed quite a few animal tracks in the dried mud alongside the paved trail. They looked like coyote tracks and they followed the trail for quite a distance. The tracks were only a few hours old, impressed in the mud from the rains the day and evening before.
We were greeted at the finish line with enthusiasm and a gorgeous finisher's medal...
A little further along there were table set up with immediate post-race snacks and munchies. As part of the race we were given two tickets, one good for a beer at the microbrewery next door, the other ticket good for a hot lunch at that brewery. I grabbed a ziplock bag filled with animal crackers and chocolate chips (perfect!!) and then wandered over to the brewery to claim my free beer (a nice wheat beer) and to find a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables to get some food. I squeezed in at one of the tables but then they had others in their group arrive and I felt like an interloper so I got up and went in search of another seat. The only places open were in the shade on the patio but it was too chilly and I had abandoned my fleece along the race route.
There seemed to be only one or two food servers working these outside tables and I waited for about 20 minutes but couldn't get anyone to take my order. Eager to get back to the hotel - actually needing to do so in order to get cleaned up and ready for the winery tour later that afternoon - I left and headed back to the hotel. I was regretting not having tucked some money into a pocket, as I could have picked up a sandwich at one of the several little cafes on Main Street and brought it back to my room to eat. No big deal...I had some snack foods in my room - fresh berries, bananas, granola bars.
Next....winery tour this afternoon. This fertile valley is home to a number of little wineries. Should be fun. And a great way to top off the day!