My dad used to say, “Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you.” This race was definitely in the latter category.
I’d never heard of this race, and probably for good reason. It was only the second time they’d run this event, and it included a 5K and 10K, along with a 10mi, 20mi and 30mi ride. However, it was to benefit a broad set of good causes. With that kind of coverage, and a medal at the end, how could I say no?
The race site was in Washington MO, which is about 45 minutes west of my house. That’s about the same time it takes for me to get to downtown St. Louis for a race, so that wasn’t a bad thing. However, that meant waking up at 4:30am in order to get ready, and be in Washington around 6am for packet pick-up.
I got there, and went to pick up my packet — shirt, bib, and sack o’ goodies. The registration person asked my name, and then flipped to the second sheet of paper to find me. Yep, there weren’t many folks signed up for the race — maybe 40 folks across both the 5k and 10k. By far, this ended up being the smallest race I’d ever been part of.
After some opening comments by the organizers — reminding us to stay hydrated due to the heat advisory, and not to drink the water because of a boil order in the area — we were off just after 7am. And much of the first half kilometer was downhill — sweet! And then it was up-down-up-down through Washington. And the hills just kept on coming. I kept watching for a hydration station, which was supposed to be around halfway… and never found it.
Now, I learned a long time ago to always carry water when I’m running, walking or cycling. You just never know when you’re gonna need a slurp, and whether you can find any close-by can be a crap shoot. Today, carrying water was the smart money. Apparently, someone had been stealing the course signs, so many of us at the back of the pack were actually off the race course by a few blocks where it mattered the most — around the halfway point where the hydration station was. Add this to the hills and unrelenting heat, and it became a pretty miserable race pretty quick.
I never come to a full stop during a race, but I stopped on the course a couple of times to talk with the traffic marshals. I needed rest, and that was a good way to do it. And for the first time in a long time, I really questioned if I would finish the race. In fact, I questioned everything — why I was doing this, whether I could possibly do races in the future, my own existence… 🙂 Sometimes, there’s just a little too much alone time on the route!
But, I finished, having gone a little more than 5K due to the hijinks with the race route. I felt kinda bad for the poor kid that had to stand there and wait for me to show up to put a medal in my hands.
I never expected this race to be so tough. I think the frequent hills were part of that, but I also think the lack of water (for my course), and the fact that I rarely saw another member of the race or staff during the race certainly added some mental challenge to the event for me.
Done is done, though, and I’m happy to drop another race in the books.