It is crazy to think that one year ago I was writing this recap as having just completed the first race after having had my hip surgery only four months prior; what a year it has been full of fun, racing, training, the accident, qualifying for Kona and everything else in between.
We, and by we I mostly mean me but because I have dragged my family into this race in some form or another for the last three years I am going to continue to say we, love this race. Bend is one of our favorite places so getting to get down there to visit and run is a great combination.
This year the husband and I went down a little bit early so that I could attend a talk that I was asked to give to the elementary school I went to as a kid. I was really honored to have been asked to tell my story on a journey to becoming an Ironman and qualifying for Kona. Truthfully, I think I was more nervous to talk to the kids than I was for the actual Ironman. Kids are not my strong suit and all I could think about was “what if they hate it” or “I’m not that interesting how are they going to be interested in this stuff”. Turns out when you are very passionate about what you do it is easy to talk about and kids find bikes really cool.
I ended up speaking with about 8 different classes, including my own kindergarten teachers most current class, and by the time I was completed with all 8 classes I was exhausted by exhilarated. Each kid was so interested in what triathlon was, what it took to get there, and of course where they could buy a bike like the one I had. It was really motivating for myself to see the excitement each of these kids had. So while the goal of the talk was to maybe motivate one elementary kid to find a passion for their health and to learn to never give up on their goals it really ended up helping me to get back to finding my mojo.
That afternoon I took advantage of Stella having new tires, a tune up, and the sun shinning for the first time in what felt like forever. I went out on the Rowena Crest ride that my parents love as my dad mentioned that the Cherry Blossoms would be out. What he forgot to mention is that it is a steady uphill grade until you get to Rowena Crest resulting in the ride being about 2,000+ vertical being completed that day. But let me tell you it was beautiful and reminded me once again how much I love Hood River.
On Saturday we headed down to Bend so that the husband and mom could golf and I could meet up with my friend Kristen Yax (Glitter and Dust) to get a light ride in prior to the race. Every time I ride with her, which has only been once before this, all I wish is that she and I lived closer together because I would love to train with her. We did a nice 30 mile ride on the Hammerfest loop down in Bend. It was a beautiful ride and perfect for flushing the legs.
The plan for race day was to go into it on slightly tired legs, having been through a decent amount of training during the week, then to go out hard and hang on as long as I could. I wanted to see how long I could hang on with tired legs, well really I wanted to see if I could hang on just in general. I think I’ve mentioned in a couple previous posts that I have been struggling a lot lately and actually ended up taking a full week of a week or so ago.
Luckily we got hit with a beautiful day. The sun was shinning and though it was windy and a little bit cool in the morning it really was a great day for a race.
There was one other lady who went out fairly hard as well which was nice for me because it gave me the boost I needed to push the pace. Honestly my legs surprised me, I hadn’t run faster than about a 7:30 min/mile in months. This year the course was different from the year before and personally I liked this one a lot more, for while it was still hilly it didn’t have the two mile long hard uphill that last years course had. You could hammer the hills a little bit more than you could last year. Around mile 8 my legs started to remind me that I had road 100 miles that week with about 80 of them being the two days before this race. It took all my mental strength to hang on, but I just kept telling myself you are Kayla Bowker, you are an Ironman you got through that you can get through this. Just keep moving those legs and suck it up!
While I did not defend my title this year, coming in as the third overall female I am very proud and happy with what my body did during this race. I went out with a game plan and I executed. When the other two women passed me I didn’t just give into it, which I could have since it technically was just a training day, but hung in there giving it all I could. My legs just didn’t have the “fast” speed in them to hang in there and push back really hard.
The course was actually a little long, 13.5 miles vs 13.2 miles, but my 13.2 mile time came out to be somewhere around 1 hr 29 minutes according to my Garmin. This gave me a slight PR from the year before.
Brandon and my mom also ran the half marathon with me as they did last year. Both did very well in my opinion. My mom ran stronger than last year and had a smile on her face when she ran by me. To say that I am proud of her is not enough. I know these are not her favorite things to do but she continues to do them because she knows how much I like having her out there, never gives up when she’s out there, kicks butt and looks super great out there.
The hubby had a little bit tougher of a day experiencing some fairly serious cramping when he hit about mile 10.5 to 11. I ran back towards him to help get him through the last bit of the race, I’ve been in this position before and know how mentally tough it can be to get yourself to that finish line. Despite being a bit miserable my badass husband still got himself to the finish line. While I know this was not the race he was hoping for or had been training for I am one proud wife for the fact that he did not give up and he ran across the finish line.
It was a beautiful weekend full of family, fun, bikes, golf, sunshine, running, and love. There is nothing I could ask for more when it comes to racing. Bend Half Marathon once again you did not disappoint, can’t wait for next year!!