Let’s start at the beginning… shall we?
So, Friday, I left work around 4:30 and headed down I-40 to April’s. I borrowed my parents Garmin and spent the entire drive, whittling off the minutes of my ETA. I successfully knocked 12 minutes off the original ETA. Granted, I had to do about 95 for a few miles along the way, but it was totally worth it.
I got into Memphis around 7:30 and we headed out for a delicious pre-race dinner. I basically threw race prep guidelines out the window and gorged myself on fried artichoke hearts, French onion soup, and shrimp and grits. Mmmmm… those shrimp and grits were so freaking good.
The beauty of this race, is that it’s apart of the TN State Parks Running Tour. Which means three things:
1. Cheap Entry fee ($15 including tee shirt, $5 without)
2. Challenging course full of hardcore running types
3. Crappy weather conditions
You see, last year, April and I ran the Frostbite Half Marathon at Montgomery Bell State Park together… and it snowed. Seriously. There was snow on the ground. This year, despite early forecasts of awesome weather, it actually turned out to be rainy and chilly for the entire race. Awesome.
Saturday morning’s trip to the park, was interesting… after turning around and doubting our decisions, we eventually got on the right road and made our way to the park just in time, to check in, pee, and get to the start line.
A note about checking in… we went inside the lodge and picked up our t-shirts and that was it. No chip. No number. Nothing. I was disappointed. I collect my numbers. I feel naked running a race without a bib number. I was totally nervous that my time wouldn’t be accurate because of this “system” that they had. April assured me that this wasn’t their first rodeo (or race for that matter), so I tried to let it go and trust in them.
The race was a series of out and backs all on paved “trails.” It wasn’t really that challenging of a course, except….
switch·back (swĭch'bāk') n.
1. A road, trail, or railroad track that follows a zigzag course on a steep incline.
2. A sharp bend in a road or trail on a steep incline.
3. Chiefly British A roller coaster.
The definition of this term doesn’t do this justice.
Let's take a look at a picture of a fellow runner taken at the race.
We first encountered these switchbacks around mile 2-3 of the race. We went down them first and the whole time I kept thinking to myself… ummmm… we don’t have to go back up these do we?? And then after running all the way down I encountered a sign that said: Remember, you have to come back this way. Question answered.
There was also another sign in a little bit that said: Hill Ahead (creative and catchy, no?). I love hills. Seriously. I don’t like doing hill workouts, but I love running up hills. I always get a huge boost of adrenaline after powering up a hill that I can coast on for a good mile or two. So, when I saw the sign, I thought… okay, good. I can pass all these bitches up the hill and get a good boost for the next couple of miles.
Good, except, this wasn’t any hill. This wasn’t your typical, long, slow climbing hill. No, this was a continuation of the switchbacks. Not as severe, but still steep. I somehow managed to run the entire length of the hill, passing everyone. Everyone else was walking up it. At the top of the hill I felt like my chest was going to explode. My lungs were flaming. I had to slow down to try and catch my breath. As I did so, a few of the people that I had just passed, caught up with me and sped by. Lesson learned. Sometimes, walking up the hill is better than running up it and recovering from it.
My slowest mile was mile 5. I was suffering from general lethargy. But, seeing April and realizing that I had less than 3 miles to go, pumped me up. By the time I got to the switchbacks, I decided to walk/run them. I walked the steep incline parts and ran the quick turns.
Here I am trudging up the switchbacks:
After the switchbacks, I kept thinking… ohhh yeah, I’m almost done now, but that last half a mile seemed to take forever. I crossed the finish line and ingrained my finish time into my brain…. I still wasn’t trusting this whole no bib number business. I finished in 1:15:14. I was handed a card and filled it out with my name, sex, and age and walked over to the finish line to watch for April.
After the race we went back to her car. Stripped down, changed into warm, dry clothes and went inside for the chili and awards. We ended up buying Memphis Runners Sweatshirts (both of us got pink) cause we were so freaking cold in the lodge and they turned out to be quite stylish.
We huddled inside for the awards ceremony. Let me just say this about the awards. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that I’d placed in a race before… only to be disappointed that I didn’t. I don’t make that mistake anymore. I always sit there, anxious and hoping that I’d placed, but I never ever expect it anymore.
When we finally got to our age category… all I hear is “In 3rd place with a time of 1:20…” and I immediately felt a hard thump against my leg and realize that April is hitting me and then her name is announced!!!!!! April won 3rd place!!!! Woo hoo!!! She hops up and gets her plaque! So, then, I’m thinking… oh crap! I’ve won something!!! And I hear…. “in 2nd place with a time of 1:15:14 is Amy from Nashville” and I hop up and get my plaque. The lady handing me the award says… “I like those pink sweatshirts girls.” Nice. Not only are we winners, but we are fashion plates, as well. So, I’m so freaking excited, that I sit down and I don’t even look at the plaque, I’m just like smiling and looking at April and all the sudden the same woman who just gave me my plaque was taking it away from me. What? Why? And then she hands me another… the 2nd place plaque. She had accidentally given me the 1st place plaque. Funny. I guess.
So, that’s it! We both placed in a race!!! At the same race! How special and awesome is that?
Not only did we survive the switchbacks, but we schooled those bitches and won. (our vernacular was so lame before It’s Always Sunny, don’t you think?).