My favorite place to run is, by far, Lapham Peak so I was really, really excited to finally be able to sign up for the BearTrax 20k. So excited, in fact, that I’ve had it on my calendar for months. Yes, literally months.
All week long I’d been thinking, ok, you want to be able to have a good race so be smart about nutrition and tapering-ish this week. No drinking, no crap, just be smart. And all week long, I was! So proud. But then on Friday, my resolve broke. As it always does after a long week. At 3pm, I accidentally found myself at Sugar Maple happily sipping on a pumpkin ale and chatting with a friend. And then at 9pm, I accidentally found myself at Café Hollander happily sipping on a Belgian wheat with 2 other friends. So clearly the issue here is that I should get rid of my friends.
Never mind. I love to run and I usually run better after I’ve had a beer the night before – it relaxes the, er, system. So Saturday morning, bright and early, I get up, have myself a cup of coffee, mentally prepare for the race, get my gear together and drive out to Lapham Peak. In the pouring rain. Ack – it’s pouring rain? Ahhh, crap. This is gonna be a muddy one. Oh well – more mud equals more fun. Always. Except if you’re in a mud slide. Then it’s not fun. Because, you know, people die.
I get closer to Lapham Peak and I’m talking with my mom on the phone and I tell her I love her but I have to go now because I need to listen to my, “get my excited!” music before I get to the race. Like a good mother, she says, uh, oh. What? Ok mom, bye!
I pull into the park and hmm…. No line of cars? This is weird. I pull into the parking lot and ok. Something might be wrong here. Where are the other cars….. OH MY GOD!! CRAP!!!! The race is TOMORROW!!!!
::grumble grumble grumble::
I can’t believe I did this!
Oh, wait. Yes I can.
All right then. Moving on! I decided to head out for an hour run since I was out there anyway and wow – good thing the race wasn’t on Saturday because it certainly WAS muddy. But we’ve had a really dry spring and the ground had gobbled all that water right up by Sunday.
Ok. So let’s try this again.
Sunday comes, rinse and repeat. Head out to Lapham Peak and oh, hey! There’s cars this time! Woo-hoo! Runners are here! There’s going to be a race today!
Found my buddy Webbies and we decided to run the race together. Race starts and wheee!! I love trail running! 15 seconds later – what the F? Is this a giant, long uphill to stat the race? Why yes. Yes it is. Webbies and I had said we would take it easy on the first hills and well, it’s not like we really had a choice on that one.
The first part of this race, well, after that massive uphill out of the gate, is fairly forgiving, some nice, easy rollers but nothing terrible. Webs and I were cruising along around a 9:30 pace, feeling really good and saying, yea, we can hold this the whole time! No sweat! Of course, we were only 1.5 miles in at that point.
Then the black loop hits. There’s a section called the roller coaster - I can’t recall a roller coaster that made my lungs burn the way this jerknugget did. Our pace got slow REAL quick. Although we did manage to pass a few people on the uphills. We passed a group of girls and one of them was wearing a pink shirt that said something about being sexy on the back – webs was really sad that he didn’t own the shirt. He would have rocked it.
The first water station is when you come out of the black loop jerknugget hills and I thought to myself, thank god!! A walk break!! Well, at this water station, everyone was just stopped. Like, standing around for a Sunday-morning-coffee-chat stopped. I’ve never seen that in a race before. And you bet your elbow that Webs and I joined them! “So, lovely weather we’re having! Isn’t it though? How about that global warming, crazy, huh?” Ahh…. Is anything nicer than stopping in the middle of a race to delicately pinch a paper cup and sip water?
The next part of the race could be defined as “almost pleasant”. Soft, easy grass, a few light hills – nothing major. Good chance to catch our breath, crack more jokes – although I was thinking to myself that the last half marathon Webs and I ran together was an epic bonk on my part. Webs and I took that one out decently hard and we laughed and laughed and laughed and sang and laughed… until about mile 8 where my body was like, “ANNNNNND we’re done” and then I suffered through the last 5 miles while webs went skipping ahead. I’m pretty sure it was his sabotage technique – if I just make her really, really HAPPY for 8 miles, she’ll for sure bonk and then I can win! Sly, sly webbies. So I was onto his tricks this time around.
We carry on and get to a little bit past the halfway part - some young whippersnapper says, “looking good, just a small bump ahead!” Wait – a small bump? Oh crap, that’s code for “soul sucking hill.” And it was. I run up that hill (monster) all the time when I train but I don’t think I’ve ever once been able to actually RUN the entire hill. I usually have to take walk breaks and sure enough, today was no different. Webs and I would say, ok, run to that post (webs – “that’s not a post! That’s a tree!” me – “no way! It’s a post!” webs 5 minutes later –“oh, you’re right”)
We get to the top of the hill and RELIEF! In the form of a water station! Hooray! Break time! We chilled at the aid station again for what felt like ten minutes, chatted about stocks and trades and such (or not) and then moved on… much to my dismay. I was ready to throw off the shoes and become a bowler at that point.
The rest of the course featured a few more downhills so I took advantage of every downhill to channel my inner 6 year old and fly down going, “wheeee!!!” Usually out loud.
There was a guy who we kept leapfrogging the entire race and he, for the ENTIRE race, was quite loudly and aggressively huffing and puffing. I decided he must be the “bear” part of “BearTrax”. I don’t understand how people can huff and puff through a 20k. A 5k, maybe, but to hang in there and sound like you’re giving birth for 12.5 miles?? I don’t get it.
Anyway, back to my pain.
The course beats you up for over 9 miles and then it throws you BACK on the black loop to end it up. What? Fun….. er, yes, fun! No. Not fun. Well, kind of fun. But only after it’s over. Webs and I powered through as best we could but by that point, we were both pretty tired (me more than him) – although I think it was more from the laughing than the hills. Yep – definitely that. We started walking up more and more hills and while, normally, I would be annoyed at myself for taking so many walk breaks, it was just really awesome. At one point, we were walking up this looooooong stretch of hill and we came to the top. Webs said, “oh great, now what’s our excuse?” I laughed because that’s exactly what I was thinking at that point. Crap – it’s flat? Ugh, now we have to run again.
What kept me going, you ask? Knowing that there were frosted sugar cookies at the end. For serious.
Webs commented that he had lead in his azz and I said I felt like I had steel feet. It’s amazing how annoying your body becomes in a race. I wonder if Kenyans struggle with lead azz?
Webs and I battled it out in the finishing chute by shoving each other out of the way in order to get to the finish first. I felt like we’d just run a marathon. 12.5 miles of rolly jerknugget hills is tough! Who knew?
All in all – a REALLY fun race. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time. Webs is a great running buddy and while we didn’t break two hours, we had a ton of fun, put in a hard effort and really just enjoyed the day. Can’t wait to do it next year!