Mother-Daughter Bonding: The Slacker Half Marathon

“So, do you want to run it with me?”

The question lingered in the air as I pondered my mom’s question. It was last Friday {not 4th of July Friday but the Friday before that. I’m a bit behind on my stories!} and she was running the Slacker Half Marathon the following morning. Originally, she planned to run the race with her friend, but due to various complications, her friend backed out last minute. Mama really didn’t want to run the race solo, so she and her friend offered up the extra race bib to me. Did I want it?

Honestly, I was really torn. I’ve been running a lot of trails lately, so I wasn’t sure how the all-pavement course would feel on the joints. Additionally, I hadn’t run more than seven miles in the preceding six months, so 13.1 would be quite the jump! I continued to mull it over but realized Mom had already won: there was no way I could say no to my mother! We emailed the race director, informed her of the bib swap {since they are allowed for the Slacker}, and made the last-minute arrangements for Saturday morning. Guess I was running a half!

Slacker Half Marathon

The Slacker Half Marathon is touted as “the highest downhill half marathon in the country” and lives up to its moniker. It begins at Loveland Ski Area, situated at 10,630 feet. From there, the course plummets downhill for 13.1 miles until it finishes in the small mountain town of Georgetown, elevation 8,400. Georgetown isn’t too far from my house in Denver, so I got up around 4:15 on Saturday morning and drove myself up to the hotel where mom and dad were staying. We collected our stuff and walked to the lake where the buses would then shuttle us up to Loveland.

As we hung out in the ~40 degree temps waiting for the buses to arrive, I considered my decision to run. Y’all, I was seriously not trained for a half marathon, downhill or not! Truthfully, the only reason I said yes was because my mom was shooting for a sub-3 hour race. There was no doubt that I could walk/hobble my way to a 3-hour time. But, even more than that, I knew how much it meant to Mama. She was nervous about the race and it meant the world for her to have me as company.

The race started at 8am, as planned, and mom and I immediately hung back. She briefly encouraged me to run ahead at my own pace, but that clearly wasn’t going to happen. This half marathon was about mama-and-me time, so we stayed slow and let the speedier people race ahead.

We jogged together quietly for the first mile or two until I started looking at my watch: our pace was ALL over the place! Originally, I had just planned to stick with mama but as I watched, I saw our pace go from a 12-min mile to an 8:30 and back to a 9:15. Mama’s speed was downright erratic!

I tried to suck it up but by the third mile, I couldn’t stand it anymore. “Mom!” I yelled. “What in the world are you doing?! Your pace is everywhere!” “I know,” she replied. “But I have to capitalize while I’m not tired. I know I’ll fade at the end so I’m trying to run faster now!”

Slacker Half Marathon

With that, I realized that mom had absolutely no idea how to pace herself. After all, this was only her second-ever half marathon so although she has years of running under her belt, the longer distances are fairly new to her. And while I may not be speedy, I do have the slow-and-steady thing down!

“Alright mom, here’s the deal,” I explained to her. “I want you to just ignore your watch entirely, and just stay with me. I’ll pace us and as long as you stay with me, you’ll be fine, ok?”

It took her a few minutes to agree with me since she was truly convinced that she would fade near the end. I eventually convinced her that if she stuck with me, she would be able to maintain the same pace throughout the race. Finally, she agreed to “give my way a shot” and we were back to the steady plod that I know and love!

We continued jogging, enjoying the beautiful mountains around us. The day was stunning with bright sun, minimal wind and gorgeous scenery. It really couldn’t have been any more perfect for  jog! We caught up on life, I filled her in on the details of our wedding planning and she gave me a quasi-review regarding my performance at work {since she is technically my boss}. In short, we enjoyed some mother-daughter bonding time that we don’t get too frequently. Before I knew it, we were approaching the aid station for the halfway point: 10k down, another ~7 miles to go!

At that point, I glanced at my watch and was pleasantly surprised. We had passed the 10k mark in 1 hour 13 minutes, so we were far ahead of mom’s original sub-3 hour goal. In fact, we were crushing it!

“Hey mom? What is your half marathon PR?” I asked her.

“I ran this last year in 2:38,” she responded.

I didn’t want to get her hopes up but I began doing the math in my head as we ran through the 7 and 8 mile markers. At that point, I knew we would easily accomplish her sub-3 goal. However, I was becoming more and more confident that I could get her a new PR!

I finally filled her in on my plans around 8.5 miles. When I told her I thought we could get her a new PR, she got such a big smile on her face! And, as expected, I immediately felt her pace pick up as if she was going to conquer her PR in that exact mile. “Slow down, mama,” I said. “I promise, I won’t let you blow your PR!”

Slacker Half Marathon

Dad snapped this gem as we ran by him

I kept her at a solid 11:30 pace for the next few miles and thanked the course gods for the downhill route. My knees were growing sore from my unexpected increased mileage and my hips were also cranky. However, the insane downhill nature made it easy to turn on auto-pilot. I was like Forrest Gump and just kept runnin’!

Slacker Half Marathon

Almost to the finish…

Slacker Half Marathon

No, mom, the finish line is this way!

We ran into my dad around 12.5 miles and I knew we were going to be cutting it close. I quasi-forced mama to speed up and as we ran through town, I’m pretty sure she referred to me as a “little dictator” at least two or three times! Nevertheless, it was totally worth it when we crossed the finish line in 2:35.46. Mama had her new PR!

Slacker Half Marathon

You know, it was an entirely different experience running a race completely for someone else. Normally, I am so in my own head during races and am completely preoccupied with my own pace, my own breathing, my own body. During the Slacker, I was totally focused on Mom and helping her accomplish her goal; I didn’t even think of my last-minute run until hours after the race!

In the end, I am so glad that I opted in for the Slacker. It was a great race {very organized, friendly volunteers, fast course, plenty of aid stations} and I really had a lot of fun. And what’s more is that Mom is trying to get me to run it with her next year so that she can go for a sub-2:30!


Have you ever run a race entirely for someone else?


  • Reply Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie at

    What an amazing experience for you and your mom!

    • Reply heather at

      It was definitely a great time!

  • Reply Marissa @Barefoot Colorado at

    How awesome! Sounds like you had a great race with your mama. The course looks fun, too! I’ll have to keep this on my list for next year.

    • Reply heather at

      It’s insane how fast it is! I thought Georgetown to Idaho Springs was fast– this is even more so!

  • Reply Christy@ My Dirt Road Anthem at

    I love that you ran a half with your mom! I hope my daughter will run one with me someday. What a great memory for the two of you.

    • Reply heather at

      I bet she will 🙂

  • Reply Chelsea at

    The Slacker is my favorite 1/2! So happy for your and your mama!

    • Reply heather at

      Thanks Chelsea! We had a good time!

  • Reply Amanda @runtothefinish at

    AWEEEEE so fun!!!! I love that you decided to do it and seriously what memories

    • Reply heather at

      Definitely a last minute decision, but I’m glad I did it 🙂

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    I’ve never even ran a race with someone let alone paced them….my pace is all over the place too =/ You are totally awesome for doing this with your mom. Go Mama Balogh!

    • Reply heather at

      She definitely did awesome!

  • Reply Kate at

    I’m impressed by both you and your mom! So nice of you to support her in that way 🙂

  • Reply jillieb at

    Love your blog! I follow you on Instagram but wanted to check this out. How fun to be able to run with your mom:) Just got back from Boulder! Had a great time there now back in Boston.

    • Reply heather at

      Aww thanks!!

  • Reply Kayla at

    Yay for your Mama!!!! She’s lucky to have you. 🙂

  • Reply Derek (100 Peaks) at

    This is awesome. Congrats on getting her a new PR. This sounded like a great bonding experience.

  • Reply Grays Peak - 14,270 feet - Just a Colorado Gal at

    […] hiker so I think her slower pace shocked her and she kept trying to go faster {sounds just like our half marathon together!} Once I dropped in front of her and maintained a slow and steady pace for her to latch onto, she […]

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