This weekend I ran my 9th race of 2012. My goal is to run 12 races this year. All of the rest are scheduled, now I just have to get out there and run them. Not such a big deal except this last race.
As the date for this 12k grew closer, I suddenly had second thoughts. Could I run the distance? How hard was this course? Was I biting off more than I could chew?
About 3 days before my race, I actually considered not going. I was getting way to stressed out over not knowing how this trail race would go and I knew little about the area and every email sent to me from the racing team setting up the event had me chickening out fast.
But lots of my fitness friends here encouraged me to stay the course and go through with it. They reminded me that if I didn’t go, I’d regret it and some reminded me that I don’t have to break any records, I just need to cross that finish line.
Even at home I was being gently encouraged to not back out. Although I was still nervous and concerned about this race, I promised I would not skip it. That I would get up and go.
So I did.
I got up and got myself ready. My stomach was a little uneasy due to nerves but I still managed some cereal and coffee. I gathered my things and headed out. The morning was crisp, something we haven’t felt in awhile so I enjoyed the clear morning and the cool looking clouds on my way to the canyon.
I was blessed to get a new phone that has a few new-to-me gadgets and apps. Like a panoramic photo option. See?
So there I am, all nervous and jumpy and it was chilly so I start to warm up after I snapped some pictures of the morning sky and the area we were in. I love new toys!
Then they had us gather so they could explain the course. It was a small group so no mics were used and no sound system. Just the organizer and his iPad. I remembered my March race and how I found it refreshing to run such an intimate event where you felt like family and friends gathering not just a herd of race numbers.
We were told that the 12k race was marked by yellow ribbons and to follow along till the yellow ribbons separated from the pink ribbons (20k) with a left hand turn. We were told then that it would be all downhill from there for the 12k racers. We laughed politely and continued to listen. I didn’t realize how true that statement would be.
Without a gun or a bell or a whistle, they sent us off with waves and wishes of “Good luck”. I took up the rear of the crowd and got myself set at a slower pace with the intention of running straight through as best I could.
The first mile was simple and I quite enjoyed it. We ran along a fireline in a single conga line type progression. It was kinda cool to look ahead and see the other faster racers all in line trailing up the hill side in single-file. We crossed a bridge and climbed some steep little jumps then came down a bit to join a double wide path on the other side.
That was when I saw it. “The Hill”….I have no words to describe the monstrosity of the climb I had ahead of me around mile 1.5. All I know is that I started up with a quick paced walk that dissolved into a crawl about 3/4 the way up. At that point I made a mistake and looked behind me. Vertigo set in so fast I teetered a bit.
Yeah…no more looking behind me.
For the next 3 or 4 miles, it was mostly uphill. I felt like I would NEVER stop climbing. At about 4.5 miles I seriously stopped and wanted to scream. I was frustrated, tired, and sore. My calves were burning and so was my chest. Our 12k course reached an elevation of 1600ft and I was feeling it with every breath.
Twice I rolled my right ankle but refused to sit or give up because I knew it only meant that my muscles would tighten up, making it tougher for me to finish.
Around mile 5 I saw the fork in the road and knew to go left and start my descent. Now if you’ve already done the math you can see how this will end. If not, here it is: A 12k is 7.4 miles (roughly). For 5 miles we went up, up, UP! That leaves about 2.5 miles to descend. Ah yup! That’s a pretty steep descent. For 2 miles we went from 1600ft down to our base level of 850 ft. For 0.5 miles it flattened out and I just kinda limped along slowly, tired and sore but so so so ready to be finished.
And there it was. The end of the course. There was two girls calling out our bib numbers as we neared and they cheered for us as we ran past to the organizer who clocked us out on his trusty iPad. I gotta say, for a simple set-up, they do a great job of keeping things organized and well run.
I finished in 1:47:17 with an average pace of 14:17 minutes per mile. That’s not too bad when there were sections of the course that I was literally crawling up.
It was the most technically difficult race I’ve completed yet. But complete it I did. Not more than a few minutes later did I send my boyfriend a text and tell him I could do a half marathon. Not because I know I could do the distance but because I know no matter how hard the course is, I will finish it.
Thanks to the folks at Into The Wild OC for putting on another great race. It was tough but worth the effort and experience!