Governors Cup Marathon

Coming off the Fargo Marathon, I took some time to just enjoy simple maintenance running. October running felt great. Well that is until it wasn’t. By the end of October I started having some lingering foot pain again which turned into me shutting things down after a 4-miler on Thanksgiving back in Ohio. I felt like I had made so much progress from physical therapy and training runs over the summer leading into Fargo that I couldn’t imagine this happening again. 

I spent the month of December doing more physical therapy. Talking with the doctor, she made a plan that since they focused on the hips last time that this time we would focus on my feet. She mentioned that they usually go on both ends of the injury to find where the problem may be. After spending the month learning some new stretches and exercises I was feeling in a much better physical and mental state with running.

At the start of the year, I slowly started hitting the road again to see how it would handle it again and it felt so good. Other than the fact that some of those miles were on the treadmill (I’ll get to that soon) I was enjoying the training. Kaela and I sat down and started to plan out the year and figure out what a race schedule might look like with our new life in Minnesota. Since we were living further west we focused on states that once were just too far to drive but now are right in our comfort zone. The first on the plan for 2022 was going to be in Montana. I created the training plan and was ready to put in the work!

Race: Governors Cup Marathon
Location: Helena, Montana
Date: June 11, 2022
Time: 4:35:11

Winter in Minnesota is no joke! Like I knew it was going to be cold, but I was definitely not prepared for how cold. The first few weeks of the year I spent my midweek runs on a treadmill at the gym as I just didn’t want to risk slipping on ice. For my longer runs, I found a group called the Polar Bears that ran in multiple locations in the Twin City area. They had on their Facebook group page that as long as it’s warmer than -25 degrees F, that they would make it out, so I knew this group was a bunch of crazies like me. 

I spent January and most of February running my long runs with them and trying to incorporate getting outside as much as I could when it was safe. I transitioned my speed work to an indoor dome in my town that allowed me not be bundled in 4 layers when trying to do 800 repeats. No matter how many runs I did though it was tough getting used to those -20 degree (or colder) days with the windchill!

Towards the end of February the group broke apart as they started their spring race paid training plan. The last run I did with the group, I ended up with a little bit faster pace than normal and really just hung on to their hills for the run. Towards the end of the run, they said that they had a text group that they plan their own group runs for weekends while the rest of the group broke off. I was so excited to plug in with another running group as it allowed me to have some accountability for my runs. So I continued my training pushing myself about 30 seconds per mile faster than normal but it helped me get stronger. Combine that with my strength training program, things were really starting to come together with my training and I was looking forward to getting to race again.

Fast forward to May, I was about to have one of the busiest months leading up to a race I think I’ve ever had. At the beginning of the month we were vacationing in Florida which brought its own kind of challenges dealing with the weather. I had a long run planned the day after picking up our friend from the airport, except her flight was delayed from Columbus. Then she sat on the runway in Tampa for two hours while they waited for a gate. Then waited another two hours to be able to get her bags. After getting home and in bed at 2am and getting just a few hours of sleep, I decided a 12 mile long run wasn’t going to be ideal. Needless to say I didn’t get all the miles I’d hope to while there but was still able to do something.

Just two days after getting back from Florida, I had to travel back to Ohio for work. I was able to get a nice 16 mile long run into the office that Friday to give me a little more confidence that my training was paying off.

Less than a week later, I was heading to Las Vegas for EDC and needed to get my long run in before heading out to the desert. Since I knew I was going to be on my feet for a minimum of 14 hours a day while in Vegas, I didn’t want to worry about trying to fit in runs. So my flight left around noon on that Thursday so I woke up at 4am and was out the door before 6am to power through my 18 mile long run. Had a great run, came home, ate breakfast, packed and headed to the airport for 5 days of standing, dancing, and walking around.

The weekend after I got back from Vegas, Kaela and I participated in 30 for Freedom an event helping raise funds and awareness for those in sex trafficking. There was a 5k, 10k, half marathon and 30 mile run. I decided that after the amount of steps I put in the weekend before that we would just walk the 10k. (Such a great cause, check out this link for more info https://30forfreedom.org/)

The next week, my buddies Chad and Josh came to visit and to run a half marathon. We spent the weekend being tourists around Minneapolis (literally walking the entire Mall of America) while also having run the Lake Waconia half marathon.

So yeah, there was a bit that happened in the month prior to the race which resulted in just over 480,000 steps for the month! A lot of time on my feet but I looked at it as a positive to know I was ready for the challenge.

Now to the meat and potatoes of all this! 

There were a few races in Montana that we were throwing around and two of them were in the month of June, which was the goal timing for races based on my training plan. We ended up deciding to go with the Governor’s Cup marathon in Helena, MT, for a few reasons. One, it was closer than Missoula by a few hours and since we were going to be driving we didn’t want to be in the car longer than we had to be. Second, the race had more of a “small town” feel and I am always pleased with those kinds of races because they usually provide a more authentic experience. 

The Thursday prior to the race we left the house shortly before 1pm to make our way west. We both figured the first day of driving would not be all that exciting having done almost 4 hours of the drive already when we went to Fargo last fall. The plan was to make it as close to Montana as possible before calling it a night and then finishing the drive the next day.

As usual Kaela and I talked about everything and nothing all at the same time. I really do enjoy our road trips as we seem to do a lot of planning and dreaming and catching up especially since we don’t have as much time to do with her new role as nanny and housekeeper where we live as we previously did. Once we were through Fargo it was basically a straight shot across North Dakota. We stopped to grab Subway to eat on the drive and powered across the state.

It was mostly flat until we reached Bismarck and then we started to see the landscape change.

We started getting some rolling hills, which quickly turned into rocky conditions. Along the way there were a bunch of “worlds largest _______” for tourists to detour from the highway to see. Luckily these were visible from the road so I didn’t have to force Kaela to indulge my curiosity. But we saw the world’s largest buffalo statue on our right in Jamestown, ND, and then came across Salem Sue, the world’s largest holstein cow.

We crossed over the state border and were officially in Montana. Earlier in the day Kaela looked up some hotels for us to stay at during our travels based on how efficient we were making it on time. We found a town 30 miles from the border called Glendive. I couldn’t remember the name of the town as we got closer but I knew it began with a “G” so I just kept calling it Gryffindor which just kept bringing a smile to my face.

As we approached our exit, we realized we hadn’t eaten again since Subway other than some snacks in the car. There wasn’t much around so I decided that I could have just a honey stinger waffle and that should be enough for the evening. We arrived at the hotel around 9pm local time, freshened up and fell asleep pretty quick after being in the car most of the day.

The next morning we didn’t set an alarm but just let Bella determine when she had enough of us sleeping and wanted breakfast. I felt like I slept pretty well but man was I hungry, that waffle just didn’t cut it. I made my way out for a quick 2 mile shake out run. My legs felt good after being in the car all day, but my breathing was a little tough as my lungs didn’t really feel like they wanted to expand at all. I took it easy and just made sure to focus on my stride and to keep my legs loose. Back at the hotel, I grabbed a plate of breakfast (it was ehh) and made my way back to the room to eat before cleaning up, packing up and heading out the door. We had another 6.5 hours to drive today and wanted to be able to take out time getting out to Helena.

It was Kaela’s turn to be in the driver’s seat as we had about a 100 miles on the interstate before making our way on a state highway. The views started off with lots of pasture land but as we continued to make our way west, mountains started to appear on the horizon making for just some beautiful scenic views. I was snacking on all my fun carb loading snacks of cheerios, bagels and cranberry juice when we decided to start to figure out what we were going to have for lunch. Pizza is usually an easy go to option the day before a race and especially when we were traveling. Since we knew towns weren’t close by and options may be limited I started to look up what was available in the upcoming towns. I came across Maverick Bar and Casino in Roundup, MT. Their menu was pretty extensive and the reviews raved about how amazing their pizza was. One review even went as far as it was one of the best pizzas they have ever had! So we had to try this place. 

So I went to the Google maps listing to look for a website to place an order to which there was none. Not sure why I thought this pizza place in a town with a population of less than 2,000 would have/need a website. I couldn’t even find a picture of the menu online but since they said they had pizza I knew I could at least get that. It was about 10:50am and I called them up to place a take-out order.

“Sure thing, what can I get you?”
“Large mushroom pizza please.”
“Sounds great. That’ll be ready in…
…looks like the cook just walked in so we should be good.”

And that’s how the call ended. Kaela asked me how long until it was ready. I said I have no idea, I just know that the cook just got in.

We were only about 20 minutes out from town, so we decided that pizza would take around 30 minutes to be ready so we stopped to get gas first just on the other side of town. I walked in to use the restroom and saw the following post-it…

…after reliving my bladder I walked out and told Kaela it was probably best she used the bathroom when we picked up the food. 

We picked up the pizza and then made our way to the grocery store parking lot to eat in the car. The weather was nice so we kept the windows open and enjoyed some pretty good pizza. While we were eating we noticed a sign near the road that said this IGA had the “Best Doughnuts in Montana”, so obviously once I finished eating we had to go pick up a few. They weren’t bad but I’d have to assume there are some better somewhere in the state. After that eventful and humorous time in Roundup, we were back on the road heading to Helena.

The landscape kept changing as the mountains grew nearer. There is something I just love about driving and seeing mountains on the horizon. Maybe it’s just the east coast boy in me but the mountains just seem so magical. 

We made it into town around 3pm and made a quick stop at Walmart for Gatorade and GasX before heading to our hotel. The hotel was set up as a bunch of little cabins on the property. It looks as though it was an old motel that they renovated to give it a more welcoming aesthetic. It was basically a studio apartment side with a full kitchen with a small table which was helpful for our stuff.

We just dropped off our items and then headed into downtown Helena to pick up my bib and grab some dinner. Pick up was quick and after we walked around the downtown shops, realized it was a little bit smaller than I anticipated and it was still just a little too early to grab dinner. So we made our way to Anchor park which was going to be where I would be finishing the race the next day. We laid out a blanket and just laid down in the grass enjoying the beautiful weather. Race crews were prepping the area for the finishing line and placing the barricades that would mark the course. 

I placed an online order for pickup at Brooklyn Pizza and Pasta company as they had great reviews and also weren’t breaking the bank to get some simple pasta. We took the food back to the hotel and ate at our little table. The pasta was delicious and was a huge portion. Shortly after eating it though, my stomach was not playing nice. The menu item was spaghetti and meatballs, and I asked for no meatballs but I wondered if there was some meat in the sauce or something as my stomach was not pleased with my decision.

Eventually I was able to get it settled down after a few trips to the bathroom and was able to lay down to relax in bed for the evening. The start of the race was at 6 am and I had to make my way to catch the starting bus at 4:30, so I was making sure I was in bed early for that 3:30 alarm.

I fell asleep pretty quickly and felt like I had gotten some really good sleep until about 2 am. I had thought about getting out of bed and just starting getting prepped for the race but knowing how small of a place we were in, I didn’t want to have Kaela and Bella up that early as well so I just stayed in bed until my alarm went off. 

The morning went pretty smooth outside of normal race nerves. My stomach seemed to be upset a little bit but I was making the best of it. I usually like to finish all my food 2 hours before race time and then have about an hour to make my frequent trips to the bathroom based on how I was feeling. In this case I had to finish my food and then spent half of that time on a bus. I think those nerves started to mess with me a little bit also. I was flustered and pacing around the place seemingly misplacing everything I had touched. Thankfully Kaela was level headed and dealt nicely with my nonsense. We weren’t heading back to the hotel so we had to get all of our stuff back in the car which added to the additional anxiousness needed to get all the things done.

We were only about 5 minutes from downtown but I was so worried I was going to miss the buses that they said were taking off at 4:45. I was the second to last person to get on the bus before we pulled away. I felt bad for all those that were sitting on it as I thought it would be rotating buses but because of the small field in the marathon, it was just two school buses that were going to be pulling out at the same time. 

The bus seats were tight! I had to sit angled which really just ended up providing a sting in my back and hip. I chatted with the lady next to me, a local to the area that was running the relay with her sisters. We talked a little bit about the area and some of the previous races we had participated in. We made our way on the interstate and down about 15 miles before getting off and heading through Jefferson City. After a few more turns, I could see where the race start was going to be set up and a handful of porta potties. 

Once the buses stopped, it seemed to be a slow dash to who would get into the porta potties first. Luckily with our bus being first, I was able to get into a 100% fresh porta potty and it was so great. I took care of my business but didn’t rush as I knew we still had about 45 minutes until the race started and my stomach was still not liking me. By the time I got out, I guess it had been apparent I was in there for a while as there was a very long line waiting.

The temperatures were a lot cooler than I had expected and with a wind blowing in the valley, it brought a little bit of a chill to me. I noticed a handful of folks had made their way back to the bus as the driver left it running with the heater on. I sat back on it for about 10-15 minutes before I started doing some dynamic stretches at the back of the bus. I decided that I needed to move around a little more and try to use the bathroom one more time before walking up to the start. 

I got back in line again and the race director came down to say that we were starting at 6am sharp. The line seemed not concerned at all since even though the time started when the gun went off, we could just start when we were ready. Luckily the race director’s words seemed to spark a little get up in some folks and I was able to get through the line quickly. My stomach still wasn’t feeling the best but for the moment I didn’t feel like I was going to poop myself, so I counted it as a win. I walked along the dirt road we were dropped off on and made my way to the starting line.

With 3 minutes until the start, I closed my eyes and said a prayer, thanking God for yet another opportunity to do the thing that I love. It has amazed me most of all through this journey how I have been able to make it to starting line after starting line. I told myself that I just wanted to enjoy the day. I wanted to take in the scenery and the race and just enjoy every step of the 26 miles 385 yards that was in front of me.

*Gun blast*

We were off! The first 5k of the race was mostly downhill, dropping about 500 ft in elevation. I had my phone with me that I used to capture some photos since Kaela couldn’t be at the start that I would be handing off the first time I saw her around that 5k mark. But this start was nice, the downhill meant I was going to go faster than intended but it was so peaceful and quiet out. Most of the folks seemed to have taken off from the start and it felt like I was in the back of the pack. I remember from the course map that the end of the race was hilly so I was trying to keep some in the tank but maybe they knew something I didn’t. I wasn’t going to run their race but rather decided to just keep focused on each of my steps.

Around one of the first few bends, the sun came out in full force and I thought about texting Kaela to ask for my sunglasses and my tank. After being so cold at the start, I started to feel like I was overheating. Add to the fact of being at like 4,500ft above sea level, I just couldn’t get a deep breath in. I kept my hat forward to block the sun for now. 

Before I had realized it, I had arrived at the first aid station at mile 3. Kaela was on the side of the road snapping photos as I approached. I gave her my phone and she handed me some 2Toms glide. After sitting on the bus and using the porta potty I wanted to make sure I was well lubricated to prevent any future chafing. Speaking of the porta potties, I made a quick stop in one as my bladder was already feeling full. I guess for the first time in a long time during a race I was over hydrated. As I came out folks were cheering on runners saying they were doing a good job and then there was silence. So I yelled “did I not just do a good job?” It got some laughs as I thanked the volunteers and kept moving on.

The next 2.5 miles were a climb up to an out and back point. I met a local lady running this marathon for the first time. We chatted more about the area and “fun” hills of the race later on in the course. We had similar goals for the race so we spent the next few miles together. As we were climbing it started to rain. Just a trickle initially and then it started to come down pretty good. Nothing too crazy, but enough to make me glad that I didn’t change into the tank when I saw Kaela as I was getting a little chilly again.

At the turnaround point there was an aid station. As we approached it I looked at mileage/time and even though it was a little early I decided to go ahead and take a gel. With the aid stations being 2-3 miles apart I needed to time my nutrition around when I had access to water. I walked through the aid while I had my gel and my running partner just kept on going.

Taking a look at the elevation chart now, the next 13 miles would be mostly downhill. I don’t remember that being the case while I was running it but maybe my splits help corroborate that narrative. I powered through the downhill cheering on folks that were still making the climb. The rain seemed pretty steady but was only really an issue on that out and back. Once I made it back to the split to start the straight shot back to Helena, the rain let up and it was dry the rest of the race. 

Just before mile 8, Kaela was parked on the side of the road acting as my portable aid station. As I came in I headed directly to the porta potty. My stomach was just having a field day today and it was getting a little annoying. I took care of my business and felt 100 times better. As I came out Kaela took a hilarious photo with her phone.

I reapplied some glide, took in a little bit of water and made my way moving forward. For the most part of the next 15 miles we were running on a state highway that hugged I-15. At first I thought it would be boring just running next to the interstate but I remembered something Kaela had told me a few weeks prior. She had read this article that talked about how as an exercise for your brain, you should continue to look on the horizon and not just right in front of you. Not only does it help your eyesight because of the daily strain we have from screens, but it also allows you to see more than just your current situations. If there wasn’t a more true thing that transferred to running. So I kept my eyes on the horizon and was just immersed in the beauty of the landscapes around me. 

The road slowly rolled, breaking up the continuous downhill that I knew would eventually kill my quads. Kaela would head up the route a few miles at a time and was such a motivation until I would see her again. I felt like I was cruising as I made it to the halfway mark in just under two hours and eight minutes. Over the next few miles I would hit some pretty steep hills that I focused on powering through. My goal was to run up every hill, even if at a much slower pace. I learned in the past training cycle how much time was “lost” while just walking the hills that I could easily shave 20-30 seconds off of the climb if I just turned over legs a little faster.

The climb just before mile 17 was one that tested that theory. There was an aid station just before mile 16 that I walked through and took a salt tab, as I looked ahead and saw the slight incline. What I didn’t realize is that with the slight turn to the right, It got a little steeper. I focused on one step at a time. The climb wasn’t long but the incline pushed me pretty hard. As I hit the top, I kept my legs moving at the same click which along with gravity helped power through downhill. We made a banked turn and headed under I-15 continuing on highway 282. Kaela was parked on the side of the road just after the underpass.

“That looked like a tough hill.”

It weirdly made me feel good that she also noticed it was a steep climb and that I wasn’t just being a baby about it. I grabbed some Powerade and then started to make my way up the road. This was the start of another hill so I walked for just a moment to catch my breath before starting back up. Kaela made a joke about me needing to pick it up and run. I lifted up the edge of my shorts in an attempt to tell her to kiss my ass. Of course she captured the moment and also the irony of me walking next to a sign that said “Caution: Runners on road”.

This climb wasn’t as steep as the last, but it was a little longer. We then had a brief reprieve before hitting a stretch of mostly uphill for 2 miles. The first part of this felt like I wasn’t moving at all. I kept my focus with each step and passed a few people in the process which is always a boost of confidence. Just after mile 19 we made our way towards the Montana City exit off I-15 which brought a little more traffic as people were getting on and off the highway. There was an aid station just before the roundabout that was off the exit and I walked my way into it as I prepped another salt tab. The volunteers were so kind and helpful and as usual at that point of the race, a bunch of liars. I know they mean well with the “you look great” comments but I’ve been running too long to believe it. 

I got back into my stride and powered through another set of rolling hills until just after mile 20 where Kaela was posted up at the top of the hills. She was on Facetime with our niece so she turned the camera to me so she could see me running up. I grabbed some sips of Powerade and got back on the road. 

I was feeling good when I left Kaela but that feeling didn’t last the last 10k that I needed it to. Just a mile later I was not feeling the best. My body felt weak and I just couldn’t keep a running pace for long. I gave myself 5 minutes to try and walk it out, but it didn’t seem to work as I only made it about 5 minutes running. I was going back and forth with a guy that seemed to be in a similar situation as me, passing each other in our “running” sections. Each time either of us passed the other we gave words of encouragement as we both knew the struggle we were in.

Around mile 22, I tried to take some Heed at an aid station and it just didn’t help. I’m not a fan of Heed but that was the only electrolyte drink on the course so I tried to make the best of it. I just walked up the slight hill and really wished I was going to see Kaela again. I realized shortly after seeing her at mile 20 that it was probably the last time I was going to see her until the finish. Since she had been on the phone we didn’t get to game plan like we usually do as it wasn’t on either of our minds. But oh well, this was the situation I was in and I was going to need to figure something out to finish out the race. 

I kept glancing at my watch and just seeing how my great paces at the start of the race were fading away. I let myself have a little bit of a pity party and then decided I needed to do something as walking the rest of this race wasn’t an option. I had one more gel that I was holding on to in case of break down, which I would say is exactly where I was. I was able to stomach about half of it and then shook off my negative vibes and when I hit the mile 23 marker, I picked up the pace.

I was feeling good as I wrapped the corner. The wind picked up a little bit but I expected it as I knew it was going to be a challenge and why not add one more thing to it. Then one more, “one more thing” happened. This course is famous for a hill at the end of the race that is called Cardiac Hill. It was called this as it ran past the hospital and also that it was a fairly challenging grade for about a mile. I kept my stride and made it about halfway up the hill to the first aid station before walking it out. I grabbed two cups of water and power walked while I drank them. I saw the mile 24 marker in front of me and I told myself that when I hit that sign, I would not be walking the rest of the race. This wasn’t just in my head, I verbally told myself this, which in hindsight probably got funny looks from volunteers helping block traffic.

I felt like I was flying. Looking at my paces it was just sub-10 min/mi but after the walking I felt so good. At around 24.5 miles, we joined in with 5k that was finishing up which meant there were a lot of back of pack runners and walkers. I made my way in the middle of the road passing a ton of folks. Even though I know a lot of them were doing a run/walk for the 5k it still gave me a small lift that I was 23 miles longer than they were and was able to push harder than they were.

With just over a mile left I started to get some cramps in my legs but I just ignored them. I told myself I was running into the finish and I meant it. At the final aid station I yelled to make sure the guy was holding water and then asked him to throw it in my face. “You want me to throw it at your face?” After I said yes there was zero hesitation from this guy as he unleashed, with a little force might I add, the cup of water at my face. I could hear him retelling the story to other volunteers confused at what he just did as I ran past. But that was the little bit of a jolt that I needed to get it done.

We turned a corner to slowly make our way to the final push up Last Chance Gulch. It was a large drop to get down to the road which just made my already burning quads tighten up. I was saying great job to everyone I passed as I was running. There was one couple that replied, “Wait a second. You are running the marathon right? We saw you at the start line, we were the ones with the beverages in the morning. We went home and took a nap before doing the 5k.” We both got a chuckle out of it before I pulled away and waved goodbye.

Two quick turns later and we were on the final stretch. We headed up a road called Last Chance Gulch which was a pedestrian only road with shops and restaurants lining both sides of the street. The barricades and cones for the runners weaved in a snake like pattern through the walkway as spectators cheered us in. This was the final test as this section was straight uphill until the finish. I gave all I had to power in and out of people as the music from the finish line grew louder. Once the finish line was in sight I lengthened my stride and focused on each step. I saw Kaela on the left hand side cheering me in as I made a few quick moves around a family with a stroller finishing their race. 

From the announcer I heard “And coming in finishing the marathon is Jonathan Flores from Savage, Minnesota”

4:35:11

After I crossed the finish line I just stopped, took it all in and just had to catch my breath. That was one of the toughest finishes I had ever done in a race and I pushed through all the pain and made it! A teenager put a medal around my neck and as I looked at it I noticed it said 5k. I looked up in a little bit of confusion and haze and one of the adults managing the medals goes “You did the marathon right? Get this guy the right medal.” 

Kaela met me just before I grabbed some food and asked if I was okay. I guess I did look a little rougher than I thought just with that final stretch. I started to tear up as it wasn’t the race I had hoped for after a stronger start but was glad I was able to push through it. I grabbed snacks and made my way out of the finishers area. Kaela and I were talking when we saw a “marathon finishers” tent and slowly walked our way that way to see what it was. It was a better finisher snack area to help refuel the marathoners after the race. I grabbed a few granola bars, goldfish bags and chocolate milks before thanking the volunteers and stumbling down the path.

We took my finishers photo at the park that we were set up at the day prior and then made the walk to the car. Since we checked out of the hotel before the race, the plan was to just clean up next to the car but the rain that had held off for the last few hours decided it had waited long enough. I crammed my smelly self in the front seat as Kaela made her way out to try to find a place for me to clean up. We found a bank about mid way up a hill that had a drive thru and parked in one of the lanes. I popped the trunk and gave myself a quick “bath” with my Dude Wipes. After cleaning up and changing, we got on the road to head towards Bozeman.

We were hoping to grab lunch in Bozeman, dessert in Billings and then we were staying at the same hotel we stayed at on the way out in Gryffindor (sorry couldn’t help it). However, the weather had other plans. We wanted to sit outside and enjoy some sunshine after being in the car so long but the spot we decided to eat at didn’t have a full menu on their rooftop patio. That then turned into me not figuring out what we would eat and then it started raining, so patios were going to be out of the question. We grabbed some Pita Pit and got back on the road. 

In Billings, we stopped at this ice cream place that I found in my random google searches before we left the trip. It was a bit gimmicky but after seeing their loaded milkshakes we just had to stop for them. You can see the sugar coma inducing milkshakes below that we enjoyed before the final few hours of our drive back to the hotel. 

That was a tough race. My stomach and bathroom issues added to the adventure but the rolling hills were the real thing that made the race stand out. It took a lot for me to stay focused with each hill. Since the race field was small and many of the folks started fast, I spent most of the day running by myself. This can be a good thing not being sucked into someone else’s misery but it also meant I had to continue to lift myself up with positive vibes. Obviously seeing Kaela multiple times during the race helped lift my spirits and kept me moving forward with purpose.

Overall the scenery of the landscape was the main thing that made this race amazing. Montana is such a beautiful state and running within the valley as we headed to Helena was the exact experience I was hoping to get out of running here. The race was well put on and had amazing volunteers. I’m glad I decided to end up in Helena for my Montana race. Fun fact that I didn’t learn until we were leaving Helena, is that I had been pronouncing the city name wrong my entire life. I had pronounced it as He-lean-a, but it is actually Hell-e-na. The more you know right?

Now a few month break before heading back towards the Rockies for some back to back fun! See y’all in the fall!


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