Monday, May 31, 2010


Goal #1: Finish.

Goal #2: Finish without falling down.

Goal #3: Finish in 4.5 hours.
Nuh-uh. No way. Not even.

Can it still be called a “race” if you do more walking than running?
Should it be called a “race” when the only creatures that could actually do it quickly would be mountain goats or really, really nimble deer?
Was my baby brother correct (gasp) when he said “Hell, no, I don’t want to do it with you! Camp Williams is damn tough!” (answer: yes – he was correct)

Foul weather conditions were predicted in the days leading up to “race” day, but at 10pm the night before, the forecast had changed. With the exception of a bit of a nasty headwind at the end of the “race,” the weather was perfect for beating the holy living crap out of yourself!

“Race” morning had me up at 4:15 and out the door at 4:40. It should have been 4:30, but thanks to the newest member of the family who refused to do a doody outside, I was ten minutes behind schedule. I left my cell phone with Bub (who was supposed to go fishing with Kev), so I chose not to go the back way to the race. It probably would have been faster, but I really didn’t want to get stranded in the middle of BF-desert with a flat or something. I took Bangerter which was a mistake since there was an accident that routed me down some street to Redwood. Having left ten minutes late and now having this diversion, I was really cutting it close for time. So close that the ornery commanding dude at the front gate of Camp Williams got on my case for going 13 mph (instead of the posted 10mph). I get it. I get it. It’s his job, and he probably told 50 other people to slow down, and there is a reason that they don’t like cars barreling in to their security gate. I know. I’m sorry.

So, I park and head to the “race” building with about three minutes to go and a stomach that wasn’t cooperating. I walked in while the race director was giving last minute directions. I looked frantically for Carol and the registration table because I at LEAST needed my “race” number. Found the table and whispered my name and distance to the gal. I got my bag as the crowd began to move outside. Nate (another running co-worker, and the genius over at The Bloody Toe) spied me, wished me luck, and confirmed that Carol was around somewhere. I never saw him again.

I grabbed my number and safety pins out of my bag and headed to the restrooms where I ran into Carol walking out. Whew! She waited while I, well…. I was still pinning my number to my shirt when we heard the cannons go off. Yes, cannons – like, from a tank – or two, actually, as they were holding the start/finish line banner.

We fell in line behind everyone which was the plan all along. Let’s be honest. It was our first trail run, and we had trained hard, but we knew simply by looking at the elevation chart that we were no match for this bad boy. We just wanted to finish a new and different and challenging “race.” We had no idea what we were in for, but we knew that we wouldn’t be in it to win it (except in our minds, of course). Carol informed me that the words of advice (based on last year’s inaugural event) were not to go out too fast, and if you can make it past the first four miles, you would be fine. (Turns out “fine” was a subjective term.)

So, we jog through a tunnel and immediately start running up. We took several walk breaks knowing that we needed to conserve our energy for the first climb of the “race.” Like I said, it was a beautiful morning (unless you count the two men peeing on the wall of the tunnel as we passed. Why? Why?!!?). After about ½ mile, the course turned off of the dirt road to the trail. We continued to run up. And up. And up. And we eventually ceased to run, opting for a brisk walk instead.

Then, we saw the hill. Everyone that we could see was walking it which made us feel better. We decided to walk the entire thing without stopping. Seemed like a good goal, and it was totally doable. The view was great, and we were feeling energized.

Here’s an idea: Know what you’re talking about before you set random goals.

We reached the top of the hill (which, by the way, no longer felt like a hill but more like a torture session) only to find that IT WAS A FALSE SUMMIT – the first of many. Still determined, we soldiered on. (Clever use of army lingo, dontcha’ think?) UP false summit #2, then UP false summit #3. Oh, what – here are some more rocks and up ahead is friggin’ false summit #4. During this time, I was directly behind some dude who was very methodical and slow. There was no way to pass because, well, we were practically at a 45* angle. I wasn’t going to stop because we made that stupid vow not to, so I just stayed right behind him hoping that he didn’t fart (because when I say right behind him, I really mean it). We were finally able to pass him at the top of false summit #4. We could see the REAL summit finally. How did we know? Well, because there was no freakin’ way that there could be another one because otherwise, I would have sat down and cried. My calves were screaming. If the sound could have come out of my throat, it would have been akin to something from The Exorcist (replete with profanities). However, my breathing was so labored that no sound had a chance to form. Actually, had I been able to utter something, it probably would have been “Gross!” in response to some guy who blew about 15 snot rockets during the ascent….

Reaching the real summit was amazing and being able to stop even MORE amazing. We trained for this, but there is really no way to train for this. It was insane. It was also beautiful. I finally looked at my watch (which I purposely avoided until now). It read 1:14. 1:14 for four miles. I usually run 4 miles in less than 44 minutes. Holy shit. Hey, no problem, we decide. We can make up the time on the descent.

Again, always know what you’re talking about.

The descent was as steep and rocky as the climb. We had to walk most of it. We were tempted to butt-slide some of it. Dude – whatever! We laughed most of the way down because, well, who the hell does this stuff on purpose? It was awesome.

We were able to actually run about a mile DOWN to the first aid station which we reached at, ah – who cares? I stopped looking at my watch when I saw the first descent. The National Guard folks were super friendly, and they had watermelon. It was like eating a little piece of heaven at that point. OK, show’s over, we’ve got to run. UP. Again.

At some point in the next three miles we caught and passed a guy who had just finished peeing on a tree. I was happy that he was finishing instead of starting. He said to us “You two are just storming through this!” Dude, if this piddly sprinkle of water is your idea of a storm…. But hey, he did get passed by two women – one old and the other fat. Maybe it was a storm…. (The perfect storm! Fat woman, old woman, seriously difficult trail all brought together at the right time and place to signal his demise. We did, eventually, finish before him.)

This section (miles 5-10) were pretty decent. Lots of rollers, and we (smartly) walked all of the ups. We ran when we could. Finally, at the top of yet another hill, we saw aid station #2. Typically, my pride gets in the way and I run into the water stops, aid stations, or any other place where people can see me. Whatever. There was no way we were running to it. The poor guy with the field glasses had to watch us struggle all the way up the hill. Again, fantastic National Guard folks. Super nice, and this time, they had pretzels, M&Ms, and gummy bears. YUM! I took a handful, and we headed UP the next real climb with a shout of “303 OUT! 305 OUT!” from one of the aid workers. Had I not pottied before the race, he would have scared the shit out of me.

The preceding five miles of rollers were actually all uphill, but they didn’t feel like it with the downs. We were now facing a true trail for about 100 yards after which we just had to pick our way through the brush following a trail of dropped gummy bears. We didn’t make any silly pacts to go non-stop up this climb. We were past it. So, we meandered up the hill to false summit #1, then to false summit #2, and of course, don’t forget false summit #3 – I would hate to leave that one out…. Oh. My. Hell. That lasted for about a mile.

We caught a break and were able to run a mile at some point because the course leveled out. How did this happen? Was the “race” director asleep when mapping out this part of the course? How could he get so sloppy and lazy? We relished every single minute of it because we knew that there was more up to be had. And, we were right.

This next ascent wasn’t as grueling to the body, but since we could see most of it (and could see the up-ness of it), it was mentally challenging. We walked a lot. We were passed by one of the 50K runners during this section. He didn’t even seem winded. Seriously, where do these people train? We had to look long and hard to find runs with just 1000 feet of elevation change, and here this guy isn’t even straining after 4000 feet? Freak show. We were so tired that I don’t even remember cresting the second summit, but I do remember seeing the third aid station below. What a lovely sight. It became lovelier the closer we got because we realized that it had porta-potties. Ahhhhhh.

Signs in my porta-potty: “It’s your latrine, so keep it clean.” And “Seat belt use required in this device.” I found those to be remarkably hilarious.

The great guys at this aid station also had watermelon and the FANTASTIC news that the next five miles were all downhill. Wonderful men….

This next bit would have been perfect except for the wind that I mentioned earlier, but even that couldn’t suppress the joy we felt for finally running downhill. Or was it joy that we were almost done? Or was it the pain trying to escape? Whatever. The happiness carried us a long way. The men at the final aid station failed to mention (or purposely chose not to mention) one teeny, tiny little hill that felt about a mile long. It was probably only 100 yards, but it hurt. We walked it.

We were finally back on familiar ground, covering the first mile in reverse. It didn’t seem this long the first time. No, really. Where is the damn tunnel? Ah, there it is. Where is the damn finish line? We didn’t run this far at the beginning. It felt like the damn soldiers had moved the entire friggin’ base while we had been out wandering around in the hills. Screw it. I’m done running. What? There’s the s building? Well, we have to run now – can’t walk across the finish line!

We finally did finish. We crossed under the tank cannons at 5:15:30. Seriously. This 20-miler took longer than four of my marathons (which, by the way, are longer than 20 miles…..). This was, by far, the hardest “race” I’ve ever participated in. Ever. Ever, Ever, EVER!

After gasping for about 20 seconds at the finish line, I got my finisher’s “medal,” a 50-caliber shell casing with the “race” name and distances engraved on it and hung from a leather string. Very clever. And uber-cool. Like me. One tough chick.

We hit the recovery tables while some National Guard guys belted out some cheesy tunes like Brick House, Kiss (the Prince version), and some Earth Wind and Fire song. They were awesome. So was the half bagel that I snarfed down! And the orange. And the watermelon. The National Guard can re-fuel. They know what they are doing. The EMT inside called Carol “hard-core.” Because she is. I don’t know any other 60-year olds who would do this run. At least, not on purpose. He didn’t call me hard-core, though. Maybe I’m just a fat lesbian who needed the exercise. Whatever, dude. Booyah to you, and thanks for the bagel. Or, maybe he was just so overwhelmed by my stench that he couldn’t speak in full sentences. Yeah… that’s probably it.

Carol and I sat on the grass for a while. Oh, how it hurt to get to the ground. Almost as much as it hurt getting up. We cheered some fellow runners including the Perfect Storm guy and some 50Kers across the finish line. We never saw any women cross the finish line. They were all probably two hours ahead of us, but oh well. We finally managed to stand and said our good-byes as we walked to our cars. Carol thanked me for running the “race” with her. I told her that she could choose the course anytime, and I would be there. I got in the truck and wondered if I could have done 12 more miles, because the 50K is calling my name for next year. I do have to remember, though, that it has not only 12 additional big ones, but also a third climb (with its accompanying false summits, I’m sure). It still sounds doable, though.

I was wiped when I got home. I was putting the boys to bed and BARELY made it through our customary two stories. Then, I fell asleep half way through singing a song. Meatball had to wake me up to tell me to keep singing. Yesterday and today, my quads have let me know that they aren’t going to forget this punishment any time soon. I don’t blame them. If I don’t lose a toenail now, I’m sure to lose one after Wasatch Back (in three weeks) because the two together will just be too much for my sad little toes to handle.

Seriously, the 50k next year. 40 pounds lighter, and that should be a piece of, whatever…

(Oh, the stats:
20 miles
I don’t know the finishing place yet, nor do I care. We finished with smiles – well, mostly. PS - I would have taken more pictures, but my camera battery was busy dying even though it said it was 1/2 full the day before!)
PPS - Carol and I came in 49 and 50 out of 54 racers in the 30k. We weren't last! The winner of the 30k finished in 2:40:44 - less than 1/2 our time. Holy $&!#

No comments: