With race day getting closer and seeing that the forecast was getting worse, I realized that not only was I going to be unprepared, but freezing my tail off. Since I don’t bike in the cold I’m not good at knowing what to wear when I do. So add to that that I had to run and bike wearing the same clothes.
I was not speaking highly about the event that week. It wasn’t helping when my husband kept offering (being helpful, I’m sure) “if you aren’t going to have fun, why don’t you just not do it?”! Knowing I couldn’t bail, I considered dropping down to the beginner distance to get it over and done. But I couldn’t convince myself (this will resurface). So morning of, I threw in capris, tights, long socks, short socks, 2 hats, 2 pairs of gloves, 2 jerseys and a vest and we headed to Fredericksburg.
They really know how to put on a great event there. It’s laid back but yet has all the right attention to detail. The race director was giving us our briefing and I heard the dreaded words…that we were in fact going to have to run through the tunnel. That means at mile 1 of both runs, you run through a decent distance (under I95) of standing water. Let’s remember that it’s in the 30’s. Sigh. Off we go.
Run leg 1- I start to warm up after running straight up a steep hill, so steep that you can hardly consider it running. But my hands stayed cold. I tried to pull my fingers inside my bike gloves while running and not tripping (as a side note I have a solid history of tripping while trail running). But by the end of the run and the unpleasantly steep hill up to the transition, I felt warmer. Run leg 1- done.
Bike leg – well, 0.5 miles into the hilly twisty, turny trail it’s evident that I did not train. I just couldn’t get much oomph. I rode and kept moving (aside from a few trickier logs and creeks), but just didn’t not get into a groove. It’s a beautiful course, but one that would benefit from a pre-ride (and again…training).
It’s a small race so on the upside you aren’t fighting passing people, but on the downside you are riding alone for a while. So while peaceful, it wasn’t helpful for pacing myself. But the great part is that once you get through the first third, you get some fun, flowy trail and then finish up with some welcome flat scenic lowlands along the river filled with Virginia Bluebells. Add in that last climb back to the transition and bike leg – done.
Run leg 2 – Well, let’s just say that I seriously contemplated quitting at that point. I thought, you know – I only know 1 or 2 people here, I could just fade off and pack up. By this point the beginners were done and drinking beer so they probably wouldn’t have noticed. But again…I just did not want to quit. Slow and finishing was better than the alternative. Onward. Through most of the run all I thought about was the hill at the end. Aside from when I tripped, and other thoughts came to mind. I told myself there was just no way on earth I could run that last part (and again, probably no one would notice). Note to self, should have signed up for beginner course. Then I get to where the trail dumps out on the fire road and there’s my husband. I said (I’m sure with some more colorful language), “I can’t do it”. And he said “just keep putting one foot forward”. So I did. I didn’t look at the top; I just looked a few feet ahead and barely, painfully kept running all the way to the top.
Who’s in for next year?