Sunday, June 3, 2007

Nat'l Trails Day Run (8.1 miles)

ZOINKS!!! Trail running at 8000 feet is FREAKIN' HARD!

Parked and walked up the hill to registration -- winded! You know you're in trouble when the race organizers have THREE ambulances on hand. This is going to be miserable. (Start/finish: 8665 ft. Low point/mile 5: 7729 ft.)

Mile 1: 13:--
Surprisingly enough...I was able to run without gasping for air. Sure it was downhill, but still. Things were going well...until the woman in front of me face-planted in the middle of the trail. She was this tiny little quasi-anorexic thing ( I thought she was a 14 year-old boy). Then after she dusted herself off, she took two more steps and DID IT AGAIN. At first, I thought she was kidding. Then I feared she would just shatter right in front of me. I decided to heed her lesson and slow my truck down. Shins burning.

Mile 2: 22:--

Did I just get faster? Amazing. Still feeling good. Still breathing lightly. This part of the trail was gorgeous -- a tunnel of green under the trees! Then the trail went through this drainage culvert that went under the highway. The race organizers placed lanterns in there, but mostly, it was a low tunnel of gnats and darkness and seeping water. CREEPY! Then the woman in front of me (a different one) says "I just don't want to get trapped by a bear in here!"

For crying out loud! I'm already afraid of the dark...then she goes and adds bears to the mix! I had forgotten we were in bear country (Smokey Bear, as a matter of fact). For the next half-mile I worried about whether my fruity deodorant might be mistaken for bear candy. (I guess it wasn't. Lucky me.)

Mile 3: 43:53

The two miles of downhill gave way to a healthy uphill section. After a stop at the port-O-john, a handful of WALKERS were ahead of me. Luckily, the trail started downhill again, and I regained my dignity place ahead of them.

Mile 5: 1:05
So if I take the Mile-3 walk break out of the mix, I'm still doing all right pacewise -- I can run AND breathe. I really didn't think I'd be going much faster than about 15-minute miles all the way up here in the stratosphere, but this is the low spot in the course. No place to go but right back up.

Miles 6-8: The Wheels Come Off
Mile 6: Uphill...I can only run for about 30 seconds at a time before I toss up a lung.
Mile 7: Whoa. This is steep. I'd better walk.
Mile 8: Are you friggin' kidding me?! Get me on belay!

It took me just as long to cover the last three miles as it did to cover the first five. I had a little non-cough going on this last part-- just a little something that stuck on my uvula and could not be coughed or ahem-ed off. Mostly annoying.

The Last Point-One: I RAN BABY!
No way was I going to walk across the finish line. I dug deep and ran s.l.o.w.l.y. up the last bit of the trail, past two other runners, and across the line at 2:07:31.

I realize this is pretty slow for eight miles, but between the terrain and the altitude, I had no way to gauge what a "reasonable" time would be.

I half expected to take more than three hours to do this, and not be able to run at all, so this went WAY better than expected. Frankly, I was aspiring for dead last because it was better than dead. There were at least four runners behind me...I admit a very tall walker passed me, but what am I supposed to do with my stubby legs?

All in all, a GREAT experience -- I'm really happy I took it on. But honestly, I'm more happy that I get to go back to the easy stuff -- triathlon!


Megan said...

Another experience to put under your belt - Yay for finishing!!!!

Brent Buckner said...

Good work.

Heck, altitude can do me in for alpine skiing, and that's just falling standing up!

Jenny said...

Geez, I can't come close to 8 miles at sea level yet! You did great!!

Wrenching Winz said...

Don't forget hike naked day.