Success – I embraced the nature over 5 kilometers of steep hills, shin-deep grass, and the occasional ice patch

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Saturday’s race morning started after a fitful night of being woken multiple times by a restless dog and a husband who was really excited about a bear on the patio at 2am. Knowing my alarm was going off at 4:20am, I was much less thrilled about the disruptive middle of the night visitor. Luckily no one was eaten and I managed a few solid hours of sleep before my alarm pulled my out of bed and into the dark morning.

I dressed, grabbed my gear, and drove the two hours to the course, wishing I had thought to make some coffee for the drive.Happily, the sun began to rise over the peaks just as I arrived, pulling me out of my drowsy state and into race prep mode. I registered and quickly started my warm up jog to wake my legs and get the chill out of my hands and feet. I spotted one other gal doing drills in an ankle-length down coat and runner’s cap and figured she might be my main competition in what was looking to be a rather sparse field.

The small group of us – mainly blue-lipped men in skimpy shorts and tank tops and more comfortable-looking women in tights, long sleeves, and gloves – gathered at the start for some pre-race instructions, an ‘on your mark’, and a very exciting send-off signaled by surprisingly-loud mini canon fire!

I took off conservatively, well aware of the steady hill that would take us from about the first quarter mile up to the 1 mile mark. A group of the tank-top men and I slogged up the double-track, gradually spreading out as the hill took its toll.

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The start, and the hill in the background.

The second mile started with a snow-covered switchback onto the only flat bit apart from the start, and then swiftly dove downhill on some frozen dirt single track that wound through gray and yellow aspens. This spat us out into some of the most challenging terrain of the course – deep, uneven grass.

I had somehow ended up in first but kept seeing the gal from the warmup whenever we went around a switchback. Now I was fighting the cold, fatigue from the long first mile climb, and the uneven, momentum-sapping grass to stay ahead of her. I tried to follow the men’s lead on the challenging terrain, sticking to the shortest grass and prancing around the many bumps, holes, and rocks. I rolled my ankle once but fortunately felt it spring right back with just a tiny twinge.

The course brought us tantalizingly close to the finish with about 800m to go, and then sent us around on one more final bit of single track, another section of knobby overgrown field, and then down a steep mowed-grass hill into the finishing flat. I was finally able to stride out and felt the effort, but was determined to stay ahead of the runner behind me who’s footsteps were growing alarmingly close. I pumped my arms through the finish and turned to see a guy finishing close behind and then the gal I’d been racing against.

We all spent a few moments congratulating each other and commiserating over the gnarly course, and then stampeded the concessions stand to get our well-earned muffins and free coffee. I settled on a sun-warmed boulder to sip my coffee and congratulated myself on keeping the ‘curse you mother nature!’ thoughts to a minimum during the race.

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COOOFFFFFEEEEEEE. With melted/dissolved whipped cream 😀

After the (glorious) caffeine kicked in I cooled down while cheering on the middle-school racers and then met up to cheer with a Volee teammate who was coaching a local high school team over the same brutal course. There’s nothing quite like spending the morning after a hard effort sprinting around a cross-country course in the Autumn sunshine cheering for a bunch of speedy young upstarts!

 

Here’s a question for you all! Favorite beverage post-race: hot (or iced!) coffee, cold beer, fizzy sports-drink? Or something more unique?

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A glorious day for racing and cheering

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50 miles 

Turns out a 50-mile ride is just enough longer than a 40-mile ride to make the whole ride mentally testing (will I make it? Or have to walk the last 5…) and result in the last few miles being overwhelmed by leg aches/death and very tight shoulders. 

 

20 miles out – those mountains in the backgeound are where i started out.

  

10!to go…so close!

 

I made it, but am feeling particularly unmotivated to move from my coffee-drinking perch on the comfy, carpeted stairs. 

I’ll just stay here thanks 😛

Splashsplashsplash

It’s been incredibly rainy lately, in true Spring fashion.  This has been excellent for thesis writing – I’ve gotten just over  11,000 words down on paper and have absolutely no desire to distract myself by prancing around outside in the frigid May showers.

The sudden turn in the weather has been less conducive to running.  Tuesday’s track workout turned into a bit of a battle for survival.  Fish & I had a tougher workout planned (2×800 @ 5k pace – 10 seconds/mile [200m jog recovery], 2×600 at the same[same recovery], 2×300 at mile race pace [100 m recovery]) + about 800m worth of strides sprinkled throughout) and we were both keeping an eye on the sky since there had been thunderstorms predicted.  However, it was about 60 degrees and looked pretty decent when we started.

By the time we got to the 2nd 600 the temperature had plunged into the 40’s and it was raining so hard that we both abandoned our long sleeves since they were more water than shirt at that point.  The track was flooded and we spent each lap squinting and dodging each other’s foot-splash.

The battle for survival started when we finally got back to the car & I realized my hands were too frozen to grip the key.  Yay for Raynaud’s 😛  I finally figured out a nice (and ridiculous looking) two-handed substitute for the usual single-handed pinch-grip for turning the key and we rejoiced in the fact that we were not going to be forced to suffer the indignity of dying of hypothermia right outside a nice warm car.  We survived, got to feel tough, and even managed to hit some of our splits!

Allright, enough reminiscing about the week’s runs – I have a thesis to write!  And lots of hot coffee to drink…just thinking about that workout makes me shiver!