Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bear Lake Monster! Well, sort of...

Yesterday was Memorial Day. And since I didn't have to go to work that day, I thought it would be a fine idea to spend my morning running a half marathon. So I went ahead and signed up for the Bear Lake Monster half marathon. Bear Lake is a gorgeous, natural lake on the northeastern border of Utah and Idaho. It's got some of the bluest water I have ever seen. What a perfect place to run a race, I thought, naively.

Gorgeous! Am I right?

 The race website lead me to believe I would get some really stunning views on this run. And perhaps I would have, if they could have kept the original course. Apparently, the forest service wouldn't allow us to run on a portion of the course that would have enabled us to complete a loop through the foot hills and back down into the minuscule town of St. Charles, Idaho. Instead, the course was altered so that it was two out and back runs on the 10K course. That meant that we had to run up the mountain for 3.1 miles, turn around and run right back down, get almost to the finish line, then turn around and do it all over again. Meh.

Before the start, irritated at the heat and course changes.

 Besides the course change, I really wasn't happy with the start time of the race. 9:00 in the morning, on a day that's predicted to reach 86 degrees, is far too late to start an event that you anticipate will last at least 3 hours. I would have loved a 7:00 a.m. start time. The temperature was an issue throughout the race. It was too warm when we started out and I knew that was going to sink me. By the time I reached the first aid station at mile 1.55, I was already desperately dumping water all over my head.

Me, during the race.

 The worst part was the miscommunication on the course. When I made it to the last aid station, I knew we were supposed to go a little farther up the road to get the proper mileage. The race director even said as much at the start. The folks at the aid station tried to give me my wrist band that showed I had made it to the turnaround and I asked them flat out about the half marathoners needing to go farther. They said no, just turn around now, we get a shorter course. But when I got to the turnaround for the second time, they then told me I had to go farther up the road to the cone, then come back, then go up to the cone and back again. Ugh. It was no fun to go run in tiny circles in the heat of the day on a dusty, shadeless dirt road because they messed up the first time.

Trudging... Uh, I mean, power hiking up the hot dirt road.

 I thought the 3.1 miles was pretty and all, but I got bored with it by my fourth time through. I'm not the biggest fan of out and back courses for the simple fact that I am a slower runner. And all those faster runners fly past me, heading for the finish, and I always feel slightly patronized when they tell me to "keep it up" and "you're doing great" because we all can see that I'm not exactly doing "great". I also hate the "you're almost there" when I'm getting close to the turnaround point. Yes, I am well aware of how far this race is, how long I've been running, and where half way actually is. Thanks though.

That's a PADDLIN'.

 At least there weren't hundreds or thousands of people passing me though. Most of the competitors were high school cross country stars, I knew exactly how it was going to play out. I think there was a grand total of 44 people in this race. I came in second to last, so I only had to put up with comments from 42 people (give or take, not everyone says something).

I swear I was running faster than this looks...

The man who finished last was a fellow Half Fanatic who has completed 8 back to back half marathons in 8 days. He closed down the race in style. As we saw each other out there on the course, knowing what place we both were, we just gave each other a knowing look and a smile. No words were needed. We may be slow, but we never quit and we knock out multiple races every month. We're not as concerned with PR's and course records. We care about moving up in the ranks of the Fanatics, lifetime stats, and enjoying the experience. It's a completely different approach than most people take to racing, but we love it.

We really are crazy.
The ultra countdown is now at less than 4 weeks. I need to pound out one more week of heavy training before the blissful taper weeks start. I was desperately searching for a race to run this weekend to help me log some nice miles but there's nary a one to be found. It looks like I'll be on my own in trying to get one more 20+ mile run in. Oh well. Maybe I'll go buy a shirt and a necklace  or some other medal substitute after, like my own little race reward. I'm sure you'll all be dying to hear how that goes.

Until next time, happy running!

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'm impressed, 43rd place or not. I just finished my first month of walking/running and although I'm certainly doing better than I was on May 1st, I'm a long way from being able to finish a half-marathon in a permitted amount of time. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping to try the Stockholm Halvmarathon in Sweden in September, but whether I'll be able to finish I just don't know. It's the entry fees that get to me; I'm probably ready to try a 5k now, and I could finish in about 45 minutes, but I can't afford the entry fees.