Monday, June 6, 2011
The North Face Endurance Challenge (Half Marathon)
What. A. Weekend. It's almost noon on Monday and I'm still getting my bearings. Friday night was low key since I volunteered to be a course monitor at the Wine Country Half Marathon in Round Hill, VA (read: practically West Virginia.) I had to be there at 6:30am on Saturday morning and since I can't be late (I think I'm allergic to being late), or even on time for that matter, I was there by 6am (I left the house at 4:45.) The race didn't start until 7am and the runners wouldn't be showing up at mile 6 (where I was) for some time so it was a longgggg morning of waiting, watching, and then waiting some more (come on walkers!) I got home around noon and then it was time to head to a pool party.
Saturday evening, I had to get ready for my first trail race: The North Face Endurance Challenge. I was lucky enough to receive an entry from the DC Capital Striders earlier in the week for this sold out event (thank you!!!) I was all set to show that trail who is boss until...
...the race: Now I know that if an event offers a 50 miler, a 50k, and a marathon, they are NOT going to go easy on you. This race was HARD. I think I've already blacked some of it out of my memory due to the pain but let's see what I can relive:
Mile 1: paved road, five foot wide rocky path. Doable. It's crowded and shoulder to shoulder about 4 people wide.
Mile 2: First water stop was at 1.3 miles. The path is still pretty wide.
Mile 3: The "path" narrows. I say "path" because it looks like the weeds were stomped down just for these races. It's single file. About 8.5 minute pace. If this is too fast for you, sorry. Just have to keep up with the group. More single file with brief openings to pass people whose heels you have been clipping. Watch out for golf balls hitting you. (Yes, people were driving balls at us as we were, at this point, running past the green. No one was hit that I'm aware of.)
Mile 4: HOLY CRAP. You want us to run up THAT? More single file up the side of a cliff like hill. It's muddy. We are zig zagging our way up and down. People are trying to keep their balance and not trip on tree roots. Jump over huge logs.
Mile 5: Water stop! People are passing us on their way back. It's an out and back course so we run in the brush and weeds to stay out of their way. A girl behind me bites it down a ditch and is covered in mud. She refuses my help. Jump over some more logs.
Mile 6: Why did I wear my new shoes? WHY? There is no leaping over this six foot wide stream. The water is a foot deep. The next half mile is a slippery mudslide and some unlucky people end up covered in mud.
Mile 7: Turnaround!! Do it all over again.
It took me 2:30 which is my worst half marathon time but this was the most grueling half marathon I have ever done, as well. (2:30 is actually the women's average time for this race.)
I was too sick and tired to even be relieved that it was over. We spent about two hours at the post-race festival eating, drinking, and getting my The North Face shirt screenprinted with the event logo (I didn't work that hard to not get the premium!) before we rode the shuttle back to the car for the hour drive home. I spent most of yesterday sick and exhausted.
Of course I would do it again but I need to get some more practice before then. The woods are no joke!!