Monday, July 3, 2017

Glacier Half Marathon ~ Montana


Glacier! June 24, 2017

I had this awesome plan to feel well trained for this event...honest I did, but I missed my last week of training and a few long runs, so I really didn't know what to expect race day. I never had it in my head to run for a time anyway. I mostly wanted to train so I would feel strong on the run....and I had super duper high hopes the weather would be enjoyable and it was!!!
1225 ft. of climbing up!!!  It is the most elevation I have ever tackled in a race. I thought it was pretty awesome the hardest part would be knocked out by mile 5!
Five miles is a long time to run uphill without a break though...and the reality was, I felt pretty worn out when I got to the top! Surprisingly, the climb up between mile 10 and 11 felt steep and I walked a lot more than I anticipated...I tried to keep my feet turning over saying my mantra...."it's downhill after this mile!" but I walked a bunch!!

Am I use to running at 5,000 to 6,000 feet up?! hahahaha, nope, I live at 300 feet elevation. 🙌

The average temps are freaking heavenly in Montana this time of year, and the dew point typically sits fairly low, at least 35 points lower than VA! I was beyond excited to feel something other than stagnant humid air, and the northwest corner of Montana did not disappoint.

47 degrees at race start, the morning air was extremely pleasant even though the temperature quickly went up!! It was about 70 degrees at the end.
The one and only thing I really worried about - wind. The last time I was in this area, I was awed by the beauty, and blown over literally by how powerful the wind was! The gusts were so powerful, I had a hard time pushing open my car door...for real.

I did experience some very breezy days while I was in Montana, but race day was surprisingly calm and still.

Shuttles ran from Browning, Montana to the start line and took about 15 minutes.
Race start is 6 sharp.
The last shuttle to the start line (no parking at the start) leaves at 5 a.m.

I stayed 30 miles from Browning, in Cut Bank, MT. I hopped in the car about 4:05 a.m. and hauled up these amazing roads to the shuttle.


 It was dark at 4 a.m. but I took these pics later in the day :) 



The plains are an amazing endless spread of green


I saw Bison on the move...I don't see that everyday :) 
The race was in the mountain range you see in the picture. 

Anyhoooo...I left the hotel with an extra layer since it was nippy. 
I rode the school bus to the start line
I got to a very crowded start line area and realized I didn't fill my hydration bottle.  That's what happens when you wake up at 3:30 a.m. 👌This was a cupless race! You were responsible to fill your own hydration at all water stops.
It was so packed at the start line I could not find the water station, so I started the race with an empty bottle. First stop was about 3 miles in...the water stations were plentiful after that, about every two miles, with plenty of coolers of water and powerade, and oranges, bananas, gu, snacks...

We started going up and I tried to run as much as I could! 
My splits tell the story...
11:12, 12:02, 14:10, 13:28, 14:22 
...it got steep and I walked a lot. I took my time and enjoyed every moment of the fresh morning air, ate the yummy oranges at the hydration stops, and marveled being on road that would be almost impossible to run. Apparently, some folks that live there do run the roads, but I would be scared as narrow and as fast as cars whip around corners...I figured this was a once in a lifetime for me! 




 The views ~ all pretty amazing! 




When we finally got to the top and started downhill I wanted to run as hard as I could.
It felt amazing!! At one point the wonky did hit and I had to slow down a little :)
9:50, 8:45, 9:40, 8:58, 10:59 (then we started go up a bit and it felt steep)
Then I needed a porta potty stop...15:45, 10:20, 10:47

The last mile was a mixture of dirt road and grass, even though the course description said it was a "short distance on grass".  Running on fairly level ground felt really difficult at this point...it is about 5,000 ft. elevation, not sure if that was why, or if I was just worn out LOL 




I just wasn't mentally prepared be on grass for so long. I knew the finish was by the lodge in East Glacier, but I just expected to run across the grass for a few minutes! 

I was so determined to keep running, my legs felt noodled and I wanted to stop, but I had already walked too much of this race! 

I remember thinking why is there so much grass!? 

 and finally I crossed the line 2:30:53 ~ my official time (11:31 avg pace)


It was pretty crowded in the finish area and I never saw where to take the free finisher photo. I did get a very yummy protein shake, Evolve, and they had plentiful bananas and chips and other snacks available. I thought the protein shake was a perfect after race treat!!

I wanted to shower before I had drove back to Mom's (a few hours away) so I hopped back on the school bus and rode to my car. I hauled the miles back to Cut Bank and got a nice warm shower!
I took my time and enjoyed the drive back to my Moms 😍

My Garmin says all my stopping: filling my hydration bottle, eating oranges and the porta potty stop was about five minutes, so I feel like I did fairly well. I expected about 2:30 and I was right on.  I felt pretty good most of this run, I did feel a little wonky at one point when I was running downhill and I just slowed down a bit and felt fine. I refilled my 20 oz. bottle three times, plus some giant gulps (standing at the stations) and drank every drop...hence, the P-O-P stop...but honestly since I knew I was going to have an "experience" time, I was not worried about stopping. I do wish I could have run more of the uphill, but honestly, I was very challenged... I did what I could. I was awed by the finishers who charged up the giant hill 1:29:27 for the first female finisher. I can't even imagine.

Pretty cool wood medal! 

The entire town of Browning in one glance...this is Blackfeet Reservation land. They hosted the event and used their school buses as shuttles to the start line. Primitive camping was available by the expo site, but I am glad I stayed in a hotel even though I had to drive a bit!! 


My heart overflows every time I think about the cool mountain air. 
I will treasure the memories!! 
Half #16 was a wonderful unique experience I will always be thankful for. 💚



💙 💙 Thank you for stopping by and commenting!!! It means a lot to me.

I am linking up with my awesome running gal pals Holly  and Tricia  and Kim! 

Kim@ Running on the Fly is hosting this week! Join in the fun 💙


Tell me what race you've run not worrying about time! 
Have you ever visited Montana? 

Thanks for stopping by!! 

Karen 

39 comments:

  1. Despite some frustrations, it sounds like this was a great race for you! Those Montana mountains look beautiful! I'd run this kind of a race simply for the experience, too, because the mountain air and terrain would be so different for me. Greta job!

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    1. This was an absolute just take it all in kind of day!! The environment was phenomenal :) I couldn't have adored it more.

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  2. What a gorgeous finisher's medal that was WELL WELL WELL DESERVED. I cannot even wrap my mind around five miles uphill! o_O Way to freakin go! Especially to keep pushing at the end when your legs felt like noodles!

    BTW love that bitmoji of you at the end! <3

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    1. Thank Kristina :) I can not really wrap my head around those uphills either lol and I was there. I really expected I would finish the race strong on fairly level ground but it was challenging on the grass...who knew?! I loved it anyway!
      ha! I am a little obsessed with my bitmoji lol

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  3. What a wonderful experience indeed! This sounds like such an amazing opportunity - like you said, when else would you run up that curvy road? Those views are amazing! I can't believe the lead woman ran it that fast. Nutso!

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    1. It really was such an awesome experience. I love running in Montana, but that road was amazing!
      It was nutso how fast the top five ran this course!! I am super impressed :)

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  4. This is actually the race I've thought about for MT (and no, I've never been). I can see I would definitely have to throw time out the window. I've actually done a similar half -- but not at elevation (but with almost as much climb).

    I've found that with races with hills that large -- even not at elevation -- those little hills at the end just kill you. I think you did an awesome job, Karen! I kind of wish UT wasn't this year, otherwise I might have joined you. :(

    And the scenery -- can't beat that!

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    1. I hope you decide to run this one year :) It is a very unique course, totally meant to enjoy the views. Most people around me walked quite a bit, it was very common uphill - time really does need to go out the window lol
      If you decide to run this book very early! The lodges fill as soon as they open them every year almost right away...I am not sure I would have felt comfortable in Browning. Cut Bank wasn't a bad choice, there are places in Columbia Falls but the drive is longer.
      So true that hill between 10 and 11 was hard lol I had hoped to run from mile 5 on without stopping but that wasn't meant to be.
      I wish I could have run Utah!! I wouldn't have been able to do this one if I wasn't going out to see my Mom.

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  5. Those are beautiful views! I ran in Utah a few weeks ago and those those views were nice but yours are so much better. You did an awesome job and I love that medal. I've never been to MT but hopefully next year I can make it.

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    1. I wish I could have run Utah!! It is on my bucket list to visit :)
      Thank you, I hope you get to visit Montana and enjoy a race there!

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  6. Great job on a tough course! The pictures are beautiful and the medal is really cool. You look so happy in that first pic! It's a great race picture.

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    1. Thank you so much! I always seem to be frowning or over smiling LOL I rarely get a pic in between.

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  7. Congrats on a great race! That hill sounds so tough. At least you got to enjoy the downhill! Looks like there was some gorgeous scenery for the race.

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    1. Thank you :) It was a very unique experience. I did love the downhill, it makes me want to run a more downhill race! At least once, it felt amazing.

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  8. While the first 5 miles sound dreadfully difficult, the scenery looks absolutely ah-mazing! What a beautiful course Karen and in my opinion, a damn good finish time!!! Congratulations girl, you killed it!!

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    1. Thanks!! I was not prepared for the first five ...just saying LOL but totally worth it! Honesty, living where I do I am sure if I could have really "trained" for it!

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  9. Wow Karen! It all looks so beautiful! If someone could photoshop those three ladies out of the last picture, you would look like you're on the cover of Runner's World! You really tackled that elevation. Way to go! Are you home now?

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    1. Thanks Megan :) I do love the scenery in the last pic!! I am thankful I got one that is okay. I would have came home no pics. I posted the others just for sake of showing the dirt road and grass lol
      I am home...not in paradise anymore lol it is humid.

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  10. Congrats! What a gorgeous race course and I'm glad you enjoyed it, hills and all! I'd love to do this one. Your pictures are great too.

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    1. Thank you :) It was a wonderful course and I was blessed with great weather while I was out there. I really adored the whole thing!

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  11. I've driven through Montana a few times. It is a LONG state, so it's a bit hard to drive through. LOL. I've always wanted to spend some time in Glacier, though. As challenging as this course was, I bet the cooler temps and calmer wind really helped a lot! Great job out there. :)

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    1. I have driven several places three to four hours away while out there visiting and it barely scratched the surface of how big it is. I would love to see the eastern side of the state one day.
      Thanks! The cooler temps were amazing! I really did not want to come back home to all the sticky here!

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  12. Wow that is some serious elevation! It's hard to train for that. Congrats on a tough race. Looks like the view made it worth it though

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    1. Thanks!! It was hard since I don't have huge hills near me but I tried lol The view was the best!!

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  13. Oh wow, that is a memorial race for sure!! That medal is incredible too. I can only imagine how tired you must have felt after all of that uphill! Phew!! Congrats.

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    1. I felt like since I walked so much of it I should have felt fine towards the end...but when things leveled out it felt really hard!!! It was crazy lol but I loved it. Still not sure if the elevation really impacted me.

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  14. Why is there so much grass?... that made me laugh.
    OK - you totally win for the BEST RACE PICTURE EVER with that smile & mountains behind you. I'd use that picture for everything... I'd even ask for it on my drivers license ;)
    A cupless race...hmm... never heard of a thing but I like that. so much waste.

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    1. OMG, the grass seemed endless LOL
      Aww, thanks! I love the background of this pic so much and I can almost feel the clean air, I added the pic to my blog lol I will ask about my license ;)
      This was my second cupless race and I like...but it would be difficult if you were trying to PR...filling up takes time :)

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  15. Congratulations, Karen - this looks like an amazing race and you did a great job! I can't imagine running 5 miles uphill, and 1,000 feet at that! The medal is great and those mountain views, wow!

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    1. Thank you Janelle :) It really was a very unique experience trying to get up that hill!! The downhill was great LOL

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  16. It looks beautiful out there! It must be nice to live in a state that has heavenly running weather in June, right?? Haha.

    Running 5 miles uphill sounds like hell to me, so kudos to you! Isn't it funny how in the final miles of the race we find ourselves annoyed/fixated on the weirdest things (like the grass)? And I agree it is hard to run on flat land after miles of up or down hill. The muscles get confused by the change!

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    1. I was a bit over the moon by how awesome the temps were LOL
      You are so right, I never dreamed the flatter portions would feel challenging LOL I just expected to breeze along...and the grass, I have finished a few races on grass this season and I just don't love it. Even with the minor irritations I loved it!!

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  17. I was in Glacier last year and loved it. I'd have loved to do this race for the scenery (and medal!) but woah--the hills! Five continuous miles of running would be so tough! Congrats on doing such a great job on the course! Also, I love how people are wearing winter hats at the start line--they're obviously not from the hot & humid east!

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    1. That is awesome you have visited before!! If you posted about it will you share the link. It is a big climb but totally worth it even if you walk like i did lol Everyone around me walked a bunch.
      49 states were registered at this event. The guy was calling our states as we ran in! I forgot to mention so much in my recap lol A lot ladies near me in that pic were from Texas and Louisiana lol It really warm up pretty fast!

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  18. Give miles of uphill...goodness! That sounds rough! The photos of this race are gorgeous and I am in love with that medal! Congratulations!! :)

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    1. Thank you :) It is was a very unique experience!!
      It was a long way uphill lol

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  19. Gosh, that looks amazing! We are planning to visit more national parks - I should time a trip with a Half Marathon!

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    1. It was really a great experience :) Vacation races has several near parks! It really made this visit special for me.

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