I'm going to try to make this short(ish) since I do have 2 real papers to write for school, but I did still want to write about my great 50k last weekend in Big Basin :)
What made this race so special was that it fell 5 days before my 22nd birthday, and so it became a birthday race of sorts. My mom and dad flew up to be there for the weekend, and both participated in their first trail races ever! My mom, who is in great shape but can't run due to foot issues hiked the super challenging 10k (her first race, 10k, and trail 'run' ever!) and my dad did the 25k, his longest race ever. Also, some of the OCTR came up for the race, and Saturday night Tracie, Skip, and Eric (EKP) came out for a pre-race/birthday dinner, which was lots of fun :) I still don't have my dad's pictures (hint hint dad...!) so I don't have any family shots, but I'll hopefully add those later :)
There were lots of now familiar faces at the start of this race, which is why, in part, it was such a special one. Rick was there, and graciously took a family pre-race photo before we got one of the two of us together. Apparently, he chatted with my parents after his race while they were waiting for me to come in, which was really nice. My parents are definitely coming to understand what i've been meaning when I say this community is full of such friendly and enjoyable people. I also got to finally introduce my parents to Sarah (of PCTR) which was really nice since they had heard so much about her :)
The OCTR runners all congregated pre-race, which was a fun touch to this northern california event. Rob, on the left, was one I hadn't met before, but had read some of his race reports through OCTR. He is an amazing runner and won this event!!! Next to him is Skip, who was initially planning to do the 50k, but ended up doing the 25k due to a variety of reasons. Even the 25k on this course was pretty brutal though, and it seemed like he enjoyed that challenge. Eric, or EKP, is also a speedy runner, who ended up doing this run almost entirely on a twisted ankle that got injured just a few miles into the race! It looked pretty sad when I saw it at the end, and I was amazed that he finished. Last, but certainly not least, is my Dad, who completed his first 25k, and who I couldn't be prouder of!
The race had a great start, slightly uphill, but, with the crowded, it was barely noticable. Soon enough we hit a fabulous downhill singletrack with cushy ground. I decided to keep with my Dad until the falls, and it was so much fun to run the beginning of his first trail race ever with him :) I ended up being incredibly glad we stuck together as, just before we came to the falls, a man was standing on the side of the trail. "There are yellow jackets ahead" he said. As we moved along, we started hearing screams from in front of us. We could see a woman standing and swatting in a swarm. Now I've always been frightened of bees, so this was pretty intimidating. In a sense, it reminded me of when I was little, and was going to do something that was fun but potentially intially unpleasant, like running through a cold stream of water. My dad starting running, but in my fright I was still on the other side. The woman was still yelling and moving slowly, as a man tried to get her to run while simultaneously trying to get some of the insects off her.
I took a deep breath and ran through the swarm. Buzzing filled my ears, and adrenaline pumped in my veins. The woman in front of me was slowing down, yelling about the bees in her hair and all over. I started screaming at her then, "Run! Run! If there was ever a time, Run!!!" As I wanted to get as far away from the swarm as possible. We got through most of them, and suddenly a couple sharp pains went into my side. Suddenly, I was five years old again. "Daddy! Daddy! It hurts!!! Get them off!!!! Get them off!!!" My dad rushed over and hit the yellow jackets off my side :) We made our way over to the falls, to assess damages. We both had been stung twice. However, compared to the woman in front of us, we felt lucky. She followed soon after, with a few still in her hair, that we helped get out. I had some get to put on bee stings, so I shared that, and used some myself (note-it didn't really work). As people continued through, it seemed everyone had gotten stung multiple times. The 50k course was scheduled to go through here again, but I was already thinking about asking if I could just do the 10k loop a bunch instead. I felt weak, but I didn't want to do that again!
Despite the stings, my Dad and I got a good picture together with the falls. I had initially planned to leave him at this point and speed up, but I was still scared about the bees, so I decided to stick with him :) However, after another mile or so, I decided to be a grown up again and enjoy a bit more speed! With the stings, this was hard, as their location on my side made breathing difficult, but my legs felt great, so I did my best trying to feel normal. The rest of the 15k loop was uneventful, and soon I was at the aid station, ready to go out on the next part.
We heard at the aid station that there was a possibility that the 15k would be rerouted, which was exciting news. And, even better, there were rumored to be no yellow jackets on this loop :). While it had plenty of brutal uphill, it also had fabulous singletrack downhill that I greatly enjoyed
After this section, it was confirmed that instead of doing the same 15k loop, we'd do an out and back, turning around before the wasp nest. The fun thing about this was that I got to see lots of friendly faces in this section, which I really enjoyed.
Relatively soon into this section, I saw Rick, Steve, and one of their friends heading back up the trail, leagues ahead of me :) They'd go on to finish in less than (or around) 6 hours!!!
I also finally got a picture with Norbert, who I first met at Diablo back in April, and have seen muliple times since, but hadn't yet photographically documented it :) We snapped a quick picture while passing, and wished each other luck before continuing on our ways!
I quickly hit what I *hope* was the right turn around section (i'm still not 100% sure!) and before I knew it was off onto my last loop. The second time around the 10k didn't seem nearly as hard, and there were lots more downhills than I remembered. A little ways into that section, and about 25 miles into the course I thought to myself, "could I do all this again?" Answer, yes :) I was really feeling great! I was really enjoying myself and actually did better on the hills the second time around.
Before I new it, I had reached the fireroad and it was less than 5k home :) There were more rolling hills in this section than I had remembered, but eventually I reached the official downhill part, 1.2 miles to the end. Once the downhill was here, I started pushing as much as I could. I flew by two runners who commented "young legs" as I smiled ear to ear. I got to the singletrack and just flew through it, having an absolute blast (confession, I had also taken a double shot espresso gu...that stuff is rocket fuel!) When I got to the fireroad, I new I was almost there and really started giving it my all. I was getting tired, and worried that I had started pushing too soon, but then, I saw the glint of light off cars, and then the bridge. I shifted up gears again and started sprinting, going as fast as it felt I had ever gone in my life. I really seemed to just be flying. I ran up to the finish to the cheers of my parents and friends and under the banner, with a new lovely PR :)
(look, I'm airborne!! Photo courtesy of Tracie, I think :) )
After the race I felt great, and just so happy to be alive and doing such wonderful beautiful things. And to have such great friends and family to enjoy it with. Definitely the perfect birthday run!