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I woke up this morning, made my coffee, sat in my favorite chair and noticed how much I am enjoying this beautiful Fall day... Wait a minute! It's only 7 August! I am not complaining by any means. I love the cooler weather. One thing that I have learned this year is that I am much more comfortable running and being outside when its a lovely 50-60 degrees versus 90 or higher. I remember running the shadow races (a race that you do in the Middle East while the real race is going on in the US) on my deployments in extremely hot weather, and it didn't bother me. Perhaps I have gone soft in the 8 years since I was in the Middle East, but I will take a cloudy, cool day over super hot any time. Anyway, I meant to tell you all about this weekend but the weather went and distracted me. Let's discuss the happenings! I had every intention to make it to Neilson this week and run with my fellow Brewer's Cup friends. Shout out to my team: Team Fieldhouse!!! However, apparently my plans still get thwarted on a regular basis, so I went to Buffalo Creek and did a short little effort there.  This was my first time running with so many horses! Some of the people riding atop those giant beasts appeared to be EXTREMELY annoyed by my presence upon the trails. I made sure to get off the trail as quickly as I could and I told them all good morning, but I guess perhaps riding a horse is super serious business. I haven't been on one since I was a kiddo. They are beautiful creatures, but I prefer to travel using my own power. Anyway, so Buffalo Creek is a super cute little place. I was the only one running the trails that day, and I was able to relish in my alone-ness for a few minutes at a time, in between horses and mountain bikers passing me.  Buffalo Creek was a 4 mile journey. It was super pretty. I look forward to going back there to try some other trails, and get a run in on the Colorado Trail. 

Sunday was, for me, kind of a big deal (Ted Burgundy voice). I have probably said this a few thousand times, but I have only been a trail runner for a year or so. And I'm coming off of a 3-ish year hiatus where I only ran for my PT test. So, last year I donned my fun little running skirt, my brightest shoes (which were not proper trail shoes), and my Hogwarts Running Club (yes, there is such a thing) Gryffindor House Shirt, and I went and ran this fun little 10K race. It's the Xterra Colorado Series Trail Race. Let me be clear, this is NOT a triathlon. The Xterra Trail Race series is just trail running. So, last year I went and I ran this 10K at Phillip S. Miller Park. I was struck by how much fun it was to actually run on those trails there. I had become all too familiar with them because I raced nearly every race in the  Race the MACs series there on my mountain bike earlier that year. I loved the feeling of the trails directly underneath my feet. I giggled as I went over the little mini hills that people call, "Whoopsies."  More importantly, a part of me that I had been sequestering for nearly 3 years came back. I was all smiles and as the saying goes, I created a monster that day. Running Shana had returned. I then signed up for the Fall Series in Colorado Springs, which is such a great time. I did the Winter series as well.  I also joined the Brewers Cup, and here I am now, a Mighty Marmot! The rest is history!  Anyway, so I am such a nostalgic, sentimental, little sappy kind of human that I HAD to return to the place where it all began. I signed up gladly for the 10K Xterra Trail series race. Then my coach, Tracy, encouraged me to do the 20K. I need more mileage, not only for the Ascent but for some crazy endeavor that I plan to undertake in October. So, I went and changed my registration and committed to the 20K. 

It was actually cold when I got to the race yesterday. I was in a tank top, my awesome running skirt, proper trail shoes, and my hydration pack, and I was chilly. I was bouncing around a little bit, trying to stay warm, but I was glad that I didn't try to wear anything else. The more I moved the warmer I got, and I knew that if I had worn anything else I would have gotten too hot. Isn't the human body amazing?? I love that I can just run around for a little while and I get super warm. It's so cool! Anyway, the awesome ladies of Stridemob (Denver area race group) welcomed us. They had us take a picture together, and they called us a family. The acknowledged that we got up this particular morning, and we were about to do something awesome. They read us a quote, and I got all teary-eyed, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone," by  Neal Donald Walsh. This really resonated with me for many reasons. So there I was, getting ready to start this race, and I'm about to cry like a dork. Thankfully, we had to move to the start line, so I swallowed that lump in my throat and put on my tough race face! HA HA!! Just kidding, I don't have a tough race face.  We began the race, and for some weird reason I lined up somewhere near the front. I have NO IDEA what I was thinking doing that.  I felt really really good though and I kept up with these people for the first mile or so. Then people started to pass me and I didn't care. That first lap was pretty awesome. I felt great! I made sure to take in a bit of water and I did have one of my Clif blocks with me. I am still practicing the whole eating whilst running thing. The second lap, of course, was tough, but I just kept running. I put one foot in front of the other, I focused on getting to certain points on the trail. I took in more water and a little snack. And then, before you know it, the race was over! I fully expected to be last. I had no way to gauge where I was exactly in the race, and I hadn't really paid much attention, but I felt like I had been pretty slow, and I had gotten passed by a lot of people. I honestly didn't really care. I had just run 20K and I was super proud of myself!

Later on during the day, while I was out shopping for school supplies for my little guy, I happened to look at the results, because, well you know, there is something about just needing to know the actual stats on a race. When I found myself, I just looked up individual results, and I found that the official clock time  was better than what I thought I had done, so that felt good. I wanted to just be happy with that, but curiosity, and this little weird competitive edge that I have, well, they got the best of me. I looked up my age group stats and sat there a bit shocked, for in the third position for my age group was my name. I refreshed that page just in case there was a mistake. I looked again, and there was my name again in that third place spot. I took a screen shot and sent it to Tracy. Crazy, but she had been looking at the same information I had at the same time I was looking.  What a fun little thing to happen! I really thought I was dead last for the whole race. It was a nice surprise. I did a silly little happy dance, and then I felt silly for celebrating myself so I stopped. Happy one-year "Runniversary!" 

So, for this race, I have a few lessons learned:

1) Check the weather incessantly before a race and adjust clothing if necessary

2) Drink water and have snacks whilst running- NO BONKING!

3) Have super duper amounts of fun and just giggle when you're running!

CHEERS to Peter Maksimow for designing the race course. It was a tough won. I rode those trails the other way via mountain bike several times before. It is easier to ride down the turns and switchbacks than to run up them. Thank you for the challenge Sir! Until next year Xterra!!!!

Well, ladies and gents, there are about 13 days left until this Marmot heads up to Pikes Peak for the great and mighty Ascent (say that last part in the same voice as you would say, "The great and powerful Oz!" It sounds really cool).  The next few days will be full of lots of water and electrolyte consumption, because I still can't seem to stay as hydrated as I want. No beer until after the Ascent. I'm grounded, I'm focused, and I am pretty excited. I have a few fun locations for running and hiking on the schedule for this coming weekend. More to come!!!


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