Location: Ashton, Idaho
Half: Mesa Falls Half Marathon
Date: August 24, 2019
Finish Time: 1:36
Pre-run meal? Quinoa Salad
HALFWAY THROUGH THE STATES!
Okay… but we almost didn’t even make it to Idaho, guys. It’s always an adventure. So, as I’m landing in Denver for my connection to Idaho… I get a text… “Your flight has been rescheduled for tomorrow at 7 a.m. due to staff scheduling complications.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I needed to be running at 7 a.m. tomorrow, flying out the next day just wasn’t an option. Thankfully my mom had landed 20 minutes before me, and had received the text already. And thankfully, she always knows what to do. And thankfully, and quite ironically, there was a flight leaving for Jackson Hole, Wyoming right across from my arrival gate. Note: Jackson Hole is about the same distance from Driggs, Idaho as Idaho Falls. So, as luck would have it, we arrived at exactly the same time as we would have, exactly the same distance from our hotel, and were able to keep exactly the same plans. Phew. Crises avoided.
We got to our hotel extremely late; too late for a dinner or any exploring before the race. We settled into our hotel as I prepared my things for the next morning: shorts, tank top, sports bra, socks, my trusted Nike Free’s, a sweatshirt (for the chilly Idaho morning), and all of my hiking gear for after the race. Everything was ready to go.
The next morning we woke up bright and early to make the hour-long trek to my race. With all of the mountains and National Parks in the area, it takes nearly an hour to get from city to city, since you’re always driving around the mountains to get there. We left around 6 a.m. for the 8 a.m. race – plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared. As we drove, we were mesmerized by the golden fields surrounding us for miles and miles and the Tetons pushing out of the Earth around us. After picking up my packet and t-shirt (WHICH THEY PUT INSIDE A POTATO SACK – THE COOLEST THING EVER), we were ready to head to the starting line (which was way up in the mountains, by the way). Hundreds of people began lining up, all of them ready to conquer this trail run (yes, I actually knew this one was a trail run ahead of time). Moments before the race I overheard someone talking to their friend, “it’s just those two miles that get me every time…” What two miles?! As she continued to explain the 2-3 mile long hill I realized that this was not going to be easy.
3, 2, 1, go! Just like that, we were off, running above this beautiful stretch of river in the mountains. The first four miles flew by as I soaked in the scenery around me. However, mile 5 came… and it seemed to last for hours. That lady was NOT kidding when she said a 2-3 mile hill. This. Hill. Would. Not. End. It was the longest stretch of dread that I have ever faced in a race, the longest, toughest, mentally exhausting, 2-3 miles of my life. I knew I was going slow, but it didn’t matter, I had to go slow if I had any hope of making it through this and continuing on. I pushed through, trying to keep my mind occupied by all of the amazing things I would get to see and explore after the race was over. As the stretch came to an end, I finally picked up my second wind. The next several miles were quick, easy, and wonderful. I made sure to keep the girl in front of me within my grasps, but didn’t have the desire to pass her (even though I figured she might be the first place female). I was content, happy, satisfied with my race. I paced myself with her, making sure she was always within my reach. As I came around that final corner of the race, I saw my mom, standing there with tears in her eyes, pride strewn across her face. She wrapped me into a tight hug immediately after I crossed the line, congratulating me and confirming how proud she was. Second place female, first in my division, and quite the glute workout from those hills – race #25 was perfect. But now it was time for some exploring.
Day 1: Yellowstone. OH MY GOSH. I HAVE NEVER, EVER, SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THE THINGS IN YELLOWSTONE. EVER. It was unbelievable. Seriously. It looked like I was on another planet. The geysers, the pools, the springs, the animals, it was all so magical. We made so many stops along our way, but here are some of the highlights that you MUST see if you visit Yellowstone: Fountain Paintpots, Artist Paintpots, Lower Yellowstone Falls (A MUST SEE), Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic, Mud Volcano and Dragon’s Breath, Old Faithful, and Steamboat Geyser. These things are unreal, and I feel unbelievably blessed to have seen this beauty. After a full day of exploring, and a half marathon, I was so hungry. I literally almost ate the plate itself when we went out for pasta that night. I needed to fuel up, because tomorrow was another full day of adventure.
Day 2: Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton doesn’t have as much of the “magical” scenery that Yellowstone has (not as many geysers or springs), but it does have some amazing opportunities to hike and beautiful mountains to climb. My mom left me in charge of navigating (always a mistake). She had said that she wanted to take a short hike… buuuuuut we ended up taking a 12-mile hike. Whoops. We started on String Lake and walked around the entire perimeter, venturing through the woods, up in the mountains, and down along the river until we reached Jenny Lake. We continued around Jenny Lake until we made it to the Hidden Falls. Up we climbed, up and up and up and up, until we reached Inspiration Point (a lookout that shows you the entire lake and surrounding area). We climbed up 70 flights to reach this point, and we were exhausted. As we started back down, however, someone told me that, “just past Inspiration Point is another place called Cascade Canyon.” ….. So, of course, back up we went. In my flip-flops. Back up the flights. Back past Inspiration Point. And back into the woods. We continued on our journey until we were sure that we couldn’t travel even one more step without food or water (yes, I know, we are always unprepared). We made our descent, hopped on a boat, and traveled a few more miles to reach our car (because, what’s 4 more miles when you’ve already walked 9?)
As our second day came to an end, we settled down for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had a few drinks, some chips and salsa, and chatted about life; reminiscing on the adventures that we’d had this weekend. Exhausted and dirty, we finally returned to our hotel to shower and pack for our trips home. As I got into bed I felt fulfilled: state #25 was such an exciting, rewarding, and extremelyyyy exhausting adventure.