Who signs up for a half marathon in the desert at night? This crazy person!
In all honesty, if you're going to run 13.1 miles, why not do it through a beautiful national park? Although Joshua Tree National Park is technically a desert, it's cool in November, and actually gets quite chilly when the sun goes down. Our race started not long after 6 p.m, right after the sun had set and a massive moon started to rise over the mountain ridge.
Little did we know, we'd later be running over the top of that same mountain ridge. Yep.
I had trained for close to four months for a road race half marathon, and thought I was relatively prepared. But I (and none of the other racers) had any idea we were in for a race over rocky terrain, with a two-mile long elevation gain in sand. As the race trail arched up over the mountain range, the headlamps and flashlights bouncing through the desert night slowed to a near stop, mine included. It was incredibly trying, and difficult - but when you've run yourself six and a half miles out into the desert, you've got no choice other than to run yourself back.
I finished my race in two hours, 46 minutes and change. I had been aiming to finish in under two and a half hours, but given the terrain and course conditions I was pretty darn proud of myself for finishing as quickly as I did. Exhausted and weak, my friends and I returned to our campsite and ate copious amounts of Pad Thai cooked over a camp stove, and drank just enough beers to make ourselves easily fall asleep on the ground.
All in all, running a half marathon through one of our national parks made me feel like such a badass. Camping immediately thereafter made me feel like an incredible wilderness woman who can endure anything. I'm already looking forward to my next race with Vacation Races - which national park should I take on next?