July 14, 2013 by Amy B
This post’s alternate title is: The day I sucked it up and did it anyway.
I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel this morning. Was I going to be able to walk? Get out of bed without assistance? Was there any way I’d be able to run for an estimated three hours?
I did a lot of thinking overnight (as the baby was up multiple times) and after the alarm went off this morning.
I’d just had a conversation with someone regarding her running her first half. I was doing my best to impart to her that she’s stronger than she thinks she is, and that she wouldn’t know what she was capable of until she pushed herself.
So duh. Like I had any choice but to suck it up and give it a shot.
I was still feeling iffy when I left the house. I reasoned with myself that any mile I ran was one mile farther than what I’d figured I was capable of running in my condition. I told myself I could bail out of the race halfway if I needed to. You know, for medical reasons.
I got to the Harbor with time to spare, which gave me time to get anxious over the fact that I was setting out on a 25K course and thinking, when the hell did it get so hot outside?
I looked around and didn’t see many women. I also didn’t see one of the women in my age group from yesterday, which kind of bummed me out because I knew she was someone I could probably beat. Yeah, I can be a jerk sometimes.
I started out slowly and hung with a few guys who were running right around my same pace. We chatted for awhile; they were bringing up the rear. One women stopped to tie her shoelaces, and she stayed at the rear of the pack for the remainder of the race. I may have made a mental note to always stay in front of her – she was probably one age group up from mine.
As we got into the paths that run up Brockway Mountain, I started to slow down and so did my fellow runners. I started doing some weird walk/run thing up and down the dippy sections, which were really hard on my legs and feet.
Then when it became painfully obvious at around mile 3 that the rest of this race was completely going to suck if I was even able to finish, I made time to take some photos.
What can I say other than there was a ton of walking, some definite moments of wanting to just give up, and thinking that this felt like the last six miles of a marathon over and over and over.
But damn, the views are spectacular out here. This photo doesn’t quite do it justice.
At this point my buddy G was waiting with his camera, snapping shots of runners as they left the aid station. This was mine. Blargh.
I came to the final aid station by the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, a cruel location as you can smell breakfast cooking as you run (or as I did, walk) up the long drive to the lodge. I estimated I had about five miles to go, which was completely soul-crushing at that point. But then there was this glorious “5K left” sign near the road. I downed a cup of water and Heed and had a renewed energy. It also could have been due to the s-cap I took (should be known as Sweaty As Hell-cap).
The last 5K are pretty flat and downhill and I ran 90% of it. It wasn’t a blazing pace, but it was enough to keep a huge annoying fly from landing on me (but not from buzzing in my ear the entire way). I finally turned out onto pavement and hit the final push to the finish, which was also followed by another loop around the lake and another loop through a field until FINALLY I reached the finish, with a few stragglers hanging around to give me a round of applause as I stepped across the mat.
I didn’t stick around for the award ceremony (it was getting late and I was sure I didn’t win anything). I was pleasantly surprised and shocked when my buddy G showed up with my prize – apparently I’d won the SISU award for gutting it out for all three races.
I won this super cool Salomon hydration pack thingie. I never win anything!
G gave me his winning prize of a visor, which Sophie immediately claimed. It probably looks better on her than either of us anyway.
So there you have it. It wasn’t the fastest finish or series by far, but I set out for a challenge and finished what I started.
I will, however, never refer to my running on old railroad grades as “trail running.” If I ever do, you can punch me in the face. Copper Harbor’s trails are a thing of beauty and difficulty, and while I wish I’d have been able to put forth a little better showing on today’s race, I have to hand it to the Harbor – you kicked my ass. And even though it’s the last thing I want to do at the moment, I’m sure I’ll be back.