Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The adventures of the Nome 12mile Run

Fire works on July 4th are not a typical tradition in Nome due to the never ending light at this time of year.  The tradition here is an 8:00am 12mile run and 10:00am parade.  Now Nome is a very small town, so the number of runners for the race ended up being 26 including Rolland and I.

Now for me I have run back in my college days a few 1/2 marathons and 25ks and sprint triathlons but that was more than just a couple years ago.  My current physical state is working out at the local cross-fit gym 3 times a week.  The most I have run in one period of time since those college days is 3 miles.  So, when Rolland asked if I wanted to do the run I was reluctant because of my current running condition, but also up for a challenge to run in the great outdoors on a very rustic 12mile run.  

So we arrived to sign up 15mins before the race.  We were informed of the race route, where to leave our stuff, the 4 check points ect.   So all 26 of us line up on a street with no line, we have no numbers, and no time chips.  We start to "on your mark, get set, go."  No crowd, just us. I start my watch and Rolland uses his GPS to get an accurate mileage recording.  The first 3 miles or so were steady sloops up and down.  We arrived at the first check point with instructions to call out our names so they can check us off.  At this point I am at my max mileage and my calves are feeling like they usually do after a 3 mile run...tight and in need of a good stretch.  The next 3 miles of the run was a wide gravel path up the side of a mountain.  In about 3 minutes and my legs are barley moving so it seems faster to just walk.  I tried to do a run 3 minutes/walk 30 seconds to keep me going.  But soon I am down to just the reverse 30 seconds run/3 minutes walk to just...walk.  By this time Rolland as moved ahead and I decide to take in the scenery up the rest of this monster of a hill.  But soon I am having to alternate between a walk forward 3 minutes/walk backwards 30seconds just to give my very weary legs and very tight calves a different movement.  I was even trying to imagine I was being chased by a musk oxen or moose or something to give me some incentive, well...I would have been fatally injured for sure.

I finally reach the top of Anvil Mountain, the second check point, and I feel good since now I am half way and I get to go down the beast.  Also Rolland waited for me here, which I was glad for since I needed some incentive to keep up the pace.  

At the top on Anvil Mountains I understand why on the map we were shown at the beginning of the race  didn't indicate a path or a road to follow...because there was no path to follow.  In typical Nome style, the instructions from the check point man was just get back to city hall any route you want.  The next 1-2 miles down were literally walking/hoping/zigzagging and dodging rocks and shoal down the side of a steep mountain as fast as you could without twisting your ankle or doing a face plant.  We reached check point 3 grabbed some water and continued on regular gravel road for awhile.  

Now at this point I am really glad Rolland waited at the top of the mountain for me (this feeling is short lived) because I did not know how to get back and there was not one person in sight. The guy I was following somehow ran full speed the entire way down this hill and was now gone.  I was getting to that point where all the mental stuff starts to come into play and just wanted to walk.  My body just wanting to stop but not really having one particular thing that is bothering me but multiple.  Not really getting winded sort of stuff but more like, "my shoes suck -  I can feel every little stone through them", or "I feel a little tiny pain in my knee ," or I think I am having chest pain," Or "how much farther is this race, why can't they put mile markers or directions on where to go, and where the #$%$ is every one?"  In short, my body was pretty pissed at me at this point. 

So what I assume to be mile 9 or somewhere in there the mental games I play with myself are turning into irritation.  Since I am following Rolland he of course is taking on the shortest route possible of which also has to be "as the crow flies."  Meaning, through multiple terrains: a wet boggy field that you have to lift your feet really high in order not to trip, a four wheeler path that has those little hills for doing jumps and stuff taking extra energy to go up and down, puddles to run around.  The most irritating to me now at this point the gravel paths that the gravel is so big I can feel it through my shoes not to mention a wet foot.  So now the mental games bring me to the point I want to really share some choice words with Rolland about the route and how if I was bigger than him I would beat him silly, but I instead conserve my energy to just finish this wreched race, knowing that it would be even farther if we took roads instead.  

When we finally make it back to town and the  parade is at full tilt and there is no regard for us slow runners who didn't finish within two hours.  We have to stop to cross the street for the parade, we have to zig zag along standing people, strollers, and running children.  The worst part is when we finish it is unclear about who to tell that we are finished.  By this time I am irrationally irritable and ready to blow.  I feel ignored for a race that took a lot of physical and mental stamina from my being.  Rolland seemed to have found someone who knew who to check in with and Rolland points him out to me - he is the man announcing the parade as the floats go by.  I tap him on the shoulder, he looks at me and I ask, "is this the end of the race?"  He of course can't hear me in my raspy dry mouth voice over the music playing.  I think to myself,  "I will say this only one more time because I am tired, I hurt, I am ignored, irritated, have a wet foot and I am the ONLY thing that should matter right now.  In the bitchiest, meanest, loudest "give me your #$% attention or you will suffer" voice I can muster up, I repeat my question: "IS THIS THE END OF THE RACE!"  Not only did he for sure hear me but also the whole town of Nome -  I was talking right into his microphone.  He passed off the microphone to someone else and gave me all the attention I needed.  Of coarse his clock had us 5 minutes longer than my clock...just another thing.  (Rolland at this point is glad that I am mad at someone besides him.)

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry or be happy that this race was over.  Deb comes over to ask how we feel, I say, "don't talk to me,"  Deb understands me most times, but her pastor does not.  She, being the caring pastor tried to ask me again how I was feeling, I barely answered a spiteful , "fine" stated that I "needed to be away from people" and left.  I went home to take a nice hot shower.  I got in the shower -  there was no hot water.  BAAAAA!!!!

In the end, I suck at running, love the outdoors, am a poor sport at times, like to see what I can physically handle with little training, demand attention when I am low and took this race a little too seriously.  We placed 20th and it took us 2hrs and 14minutes on my watch and 2hrs and 20minutes on race clock (once we found the guy).  According to Rolland's GPS we managed to cut off an entire mile on the short cuts we took.  Its hard to say weather our 11min miles were because of the 3 mile walk up the hill and the tedious descent down the hill or if I am really just that slow and out of running condition. My calves two days later still are tight and I am not walking normal.  I went into it with a goal of finishing in less the 2.5hrs and I did, I should have been a little bit more happy about that.  Oh well, in few days I will be bragging about how I ran a multiple terrain, 12 mile run in Alaska.  


Life 102 said...

O rachael, I'm sorry but I giggled my way through your post. I can imagine how you looked and am hoping that because you wrote about it you are ready to joke about it. What an odd race. Be glad you finished and weren't eaten by a grizzly bear... Well done! 11 min miles is pretty darn good from my standpoint. :)

Jennifer said...

Remember that race that I talked you into? The one on the track with 40 something laps? I'm glad someone can still talk you into a race! ;-)

mitskn said...