Entry 8: The Canyon City Marathon

Canyon City Marathon, Azusa, California

Canyon City Marathon, Azusa, California (Photo courtesy of RunRevel.com)

After returning home from the Big Cottonwood Marathon,I visited one of my favorite Marathon race sites, Running in the USA, to look for a good BQ marathon.  Natalie and I are an incredible team and our unlucky pacing choices on the Big Cottonwood Marathon needed to be redeemed. I wanted Natalie to know that she could BQ. I wanted her to get it. I knew she could. Like I said, she is one of the strongest women I have ever met.

Elevation graphic for Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, California

Elevation graphic for Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, California (Courtesy of RunRevel.com)

I happened upon the Canyon City Marathon from this site and everything I read convinced me this was our race. The Canyon City Marathon in 2014 was in its inaugural year. It was a Revel race which made it even more attractive to me. And check out all that downhill. Sea-level downhill.

I talked with Natalie and we decided we were in. Her husband, Clint, also decided to run it. We organized a team with one other member called Team Pizza Chips and Salsa, and committed to training for the next 8 weeks.

I have family that lives near Azusa and they said that we could stay with them.   My cousin was actually planning on running the half marathon so it worked out perfectly.

Natalie Brown and Krista Sidwell at the 2014 Canyon City Marathon Expo.

Natalie Brown and Krista Sidwell at the 2014 Canyon City Marathon Expo.

We flew into LA and after a lot of time spent in traffic we arrived at the small race expo, grabbed our race materials and drove to my cousin’s home in Chino Hills.  She had prepared a delicious carb-heavy dinner and we dined and chatted and then prepared for sleep.

My Feed Your Crazy temporary tattoo race morning.

My Feed Your Crazy temporary tattoo race morning.

We awoke early (3:30 am) and put on our Feed Our Crazy tattoos to show support for our friends’ business and to inspire us as much as their mission inspires us. We downed our pre-race oatmeal and jumped in a car that took us to the buses that were driving athletes up the canyon to the race start.

The drive up to the race start was scenic and beautiful with soft, low-laying clouds. We were ready and at this altitude, also very encouraged by the extra red blood cells that we would have working for us from training at a higher elevation than our LA-based race. We had our pace bands, we had our pace watches and we were rock solid in our strategy for this race.

We were a team to be reckoned with, Natalie and I. We didn’t panic on the hills, we didn’t go too fast on the downhill, we kept our splits and stayed focused.  We even picked up another racer who wanted to pace with us.

The course is so beautiful and our lungs and bodies felt great.

Krista Miner Sidwell and Natalie Brown in the last half mile of the 2014 Canyon City Marathon sprinting for the finish.

Krista Miner Sidwell and Natalie Brown in the last half mile of the 2014 Canyon City Marathon on Palm Dr. headed for the finish.

As we approached the finish line, and I allowed myself to accept that we were going to pull this off, I started to feel an excitement build in me that is hard to describe.  We sprinted across the finish line with a 03:37:27 BQ (8:18 pace).

Natalie Brown crossing the finish line at the Canyon City Marathon in 2014 with her first BQ.

Natalie Brown crossing the finish line at the Canyon City Marathon in 2014 with her first BQ. (I have this picture framed on my desk. It reminds me of what life is all about. Her husband, Clint, is in the foreground of the picture looking on. I’m off to the left, behind her.)

It is hard to put into words the emotions that I felt watching my dear friend achieve her goal. Qualifying for Boston at the Utah Valley Marathon in June earlier that year felt awesome, but this was beyond that.  She was crying in her husband’s arms, who was also crying and I looked on with tears flooding my eyes. Then I got my hug! We did it!

Kool 'n Fit Sport Spray for tired/worked over muscles.

Kool ‘n Fit Sport Spray for tired/worked over muscles.

The post-race facilities at this race were great.  I learned about this great product: Kool ‘N Fit Sport. This stuff really helped our stiffening muscles after all that downhill that our bodies traversed. It is a must-have in my suitcase for post-race recovery now.  But even with the aches and pains, there was nothing bringing us down after our amazing race.

Natalie Brown sporting her BQ shirt after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon, in Azusa, CA.

Natalie Brown sporting her BQ shirt after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon, in Azusa, CA.

So, before the Big Cottonwood Marathon (BCM), I had a shirt made for Natalie that said “Boston Qualifier” on it. I loved the one that I received at the Utah Valley Marathon and knew that they didn’t have that perk at the BCM. I was that confident in her that we were going to make her BQ happen at the BCM. I held onto the shirt, certain that I would need it in the future for her. So, I brought the shirt with me to Canyon City and gave it to her there.  Her reaction to that was great. I love this pic.

Team Pizza Chips and Salsa after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, CA.

Team Pizza Chips and Salsa after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon in Azusa, CA. (From left to right: Frank Ostojic, Clint Brown, Natalie Brown, and Krista Miner Sidwell.)

Natalie’s husband, Clint, also pulled off an impressive 3:03 at the Canyon City Marathon re-qualifying for Boston in 2016. We all qualified and we will all be running it together in 2016.

Recovery meal at Inn and Out in Azusa, CA, after our Canyon City Marathon race.

Recovery meal at In-n-Out in Azusa, CA, after our Canyon City Marathon race.

After getting our fill of the race finisher’s area, we headed back to my cousin’s house to clean up and then went for In-N-Out–one of the funniest meals I have ever witnessed thanks to our two male comedians.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell in Inn and Out heaven after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell in In-N-Out heaven after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

Diddy Riese stop for some well-earned cookies in LA.

Diddy Riese stop for some well-earned cookies in LA.

Some friends told us about a cookie place that we had to visit in LA before we caught our flight home so we braved the traffic mess and made it to Diddy Riese.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

Natalie Brown and Krista Miner Sidwell after the 2014 Canyon City Marathon.

There are so many lessons to be learned from running a race; from running a marathon. There are so many parallels to life. Life tries you.  It reveals you. It humbles you and at times it tears you apart.  Sometimes all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and will yourself not to fall. Not to stop. To just keep going. But every time you rise, every time you place one foot in front of the other, every time you choose to persevere in the face of the unfaceable, you become more. You feel more. And slowly you are able to see how much more you can do and be. You begin to see yourself and all your limitless potential and you begin to see that helping others see themselves too is better than anything else.

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