Yesterday was one of the most challenging yet ultimately satisfying days of my life.
As you know, I am 5 weeks off of my half marathon. Well, when I signed up for the Badger Mountain 15K, I though “Oh, I can so this. I’m coming off of training for a half – how hard could it be?”
Uh, very hard. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I shall continue with my usual format.
In the weeks leading up to this race, I had a serious case of the lazies. I did not complete all my goal training runs in the 2 weeks leading up to the race. Mentally I was just kind of spent. Luckily, I had just intended to try this race for the experience and reason to keep going (a choice I am very glad for). While I felt uninspired, I was looking foreword to trying something new. I also was feeling tired the week leading up to the race, so all week I got a solid 9-10 hours(!) of sleep each night (that hasn’t happened in a very long time).
Packet Pick-up and Insomnia
The day before I went over to the running store to get my goodies. In the past I’ve always been a small race shirt size, but that’s because it’s unisex. I had the option to get a woman’s sizing and decided to get a small, one size down form my usual. Why? Well, this is a tough race and a shirt I’ll be proud to wear. It also looks great. The small size will give me motivation and a push to pull through on my weight loss (which is going well, by the way). Can’t wait to be able to wear the shirt (I’ll post a pic when it happens)! The night before my race, I made chocolate budino for post-race celebration whilst my family watched Saving Mr. Banks. I intended to just cook (something I love doing when I’m nervous/excited, especially on a rainy day like it was) and kind of watch, then head off to bed early. Well, I wasn’t feeling tired at all, so I ended up watching most of the movie with them (btw, very good film). For the first time I didn’t sleep much the night before a race. I woke up around 2 from who knows what and decided to drink a glass of water to help with hydration. It took me about 1 1/2 hours to fall back asleep. Luckily I had to much adrenaline to notice it that morning.
Rain and Wind or Sun?
The weather forecast was mid. 40’s with some wind and rain later (after my predicted finish time). The day before was cloudy and rainy (very relaxing), so I was crossing my fingers for good weather. As it turned out, the sky was totally clear, it was in the mid 50’s and only a bit of wind came in near the end of my race. What a blessing!
The parking area for the race was a bit of a distance from the start, so racers had to trek out to the start. A good warm-up to kick start the next few hours. Then I had to stand in a ridiculously long and disoriented rest room line. Lucky for me the start was in waves to let runners spread out along the trail. I ended up getting there in a good wave for my pace.
A Start to Break the Weak
Here’s where my “I’m in good shape….I got this” attitude crumbled. The start was killer. Like no words can express. Granted, I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been and most of the others were, but I swear that start was meant to break the weak. It was almost 2 miles of extreme, unending incline. I know I sound wimpy. I was tempted to turn back and DNF. I tried to push too much and run a lot of it, but I just ended up walking (which was in my plan, but I just wanted to feel like I started strong). But I pressed on, and then came the best part: about 1.5 miles of downhill bliss. It was the perfect amount of decline – enough to let you go fast without going out of control. I was flying (I actually thought those words). I was grinning like a kid in a candy shop and I think I even laughed out loud. I just let myself go free. I was on a nice dirt path, too. I won’t forget the feeling. I soaked it in and told myself to remember that feeling when I hit the inclines again, because I realized I was going down the mountain. Which meant I had to go back up. Oh my.
That middle part of the race is always the blurry part. I had no real sense of distance and the trail markers didn’t really apply. After the decline was a pretty flat road that is on private property right beside a vineyard. It was quite pretty. I then hit the roughly half-way point (which ended up being the last aid station) which was the start of the trail I ran once the week before. It had quite a bit of hills at the start, so I walked most of it. It was then I realized I was kind of around “my people”, the folks who are going my pace and would finish with me. It was funny, there was a trend of walking on this certain incline, then picking up the pace on this easier spot. It gave everything a sense of camaraderie. I noticed this particular couple whom I would pass on the running parts, then see pass me on the walking parts (they were significantly taller than 5’3, darn it. Curse long legs). About 6 miles in I saw this taller guy who looked very fit walking rather slowly. I didn’t think much of it, but he stuck out to me (remember him. More to come). This was about the time I had to distract myself by singing “Misty Mountains” and just enjoying the view. I also came up with a mantra that I really want to use for something (maybe a new blog title?): Dedication and Determination (inspire by contemplating 100 miles on this grueling mountain). Catchy and meaningful, huh?
How Far Have We Gone?
Like, I said my only sense of distance was linked to how long I’d been running. I was supposed to text my people when I was 30 minutes out (about 2.5 mile assuming there was no large incline), but I never knew how far I was. I ended up texting when I thought I was 20 minutes out, but then crested a hill (the last 1-2 mi. was a gentle downhill) and saw the finish. Oops. I knew they wouldn’t be there, so I pulled my ipod off my arm and took a video of me finishing. 🙂 It was kind of cute because the guys at the end were cheering me on and then laughing and thumbs-uping the “finish selfie” (really a video….but not a bad idea for future races). I ended up finishing faster than I had predicted (I must have made up some serious time on those downhills).
I immediately headed towards the food tent for some water and to check out the food options. I accidentally grabbed a murky white recovery drink that I think was supposed to be vanilla, because it tasted like muddy vanilla something rather. Oh well, maybe it helped the muscles. Luckily it was a small cup. I finally got (real) water and took some banana. I kept walking around and stretched the little muscles. I eventually went back for more water, oranges, banana, and quesadilla. I later realized I never saw the doughnuts the boasted (maybe I was too late….darn fast people!). Eventually I got picked up and then went home to enjoy my chocolate budino (that I decided to freeze so it’d be more like ice cream….very good!) and tell my running tale. I started to get a headache so I took two “naps” (I never really fell asleep). I also finished Saving Mr. Banks over lunch (pizza….oh, it’s been a while). Later my family and I went to watch God’s Not Dead (HIGHLY RECOMENDED!!!) and at the theater I saw an old school friend. Good times…..
This was a great day that I won’t forget. It really reignited my passion for running and I can’t wait for my intense summer training. Next year I hope to train more for this race and run the entire thing (even if it’s slow, I want to not walk). Tough but challenging. My second March first is complete!
Well here’s some pics (that don’t do the views justice at all):