Cheryl is always calling me Crazy or Insane... well sometimes I think I deserve that title and this Saturday was one of those times.
We drove 250 miles round trip to run 9.3 miles up a mountain... CRAZY?? INSANE?? Probably but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!!
The other wack-o's along for the ride were Bailey, Joan and Rock..
When we got to the school in Havana there were only a few people there of course in our usual Cruiser fashion we were WAY early pretty good considering we made a pit stop and a wrong turn.
This is a very informal race no numbers and we would get our shirts at the top of the mountain. By the time we all used the restrooms etc. a few more people had arrived.
Bailey has been sidelined with a stress fracture for the past six weeks and this was just her second run back so she decided she would just stick with me... actually I'm not sure if she decided on that or if I did! LOL
So anyway I asked her again at the car if she was sure she wanted to stick with me, I told her it would be slow!!! She said she would so I left my i-pod it the car... I told her she was for sure stuck with me now!!!!
I surveyed the small crowd and I told Bailey that I thought we really might be last... my fear at all races is that I will be last, it hasn't happened yet but I know that day will come.
The starting line was about a 1/2 mile from the school on a gravel road, I didn't realize until we were almost to the start line that we were going back in the direction of the school, which meant we had to run on gravel for the first 1/2 mile.
After we got to the start line a lot more people started showing up and after another survey of the crowd I told Bailey that maybe we wouldn't be last after all.
On the walk to the start line we were walking with a lady who told us she had baked a lot of goodies for the finish. I asked her to tell me what she had made so I would have something to look forward to during the race. When she mentioned chocolate chip cookies I was in heaven!!!! Any kind of home made baked goods are my weakness but especially chocolate chip cookies!!!!
I had used the bathroom several times, at home and at the school and i was able to take care of business but I was a little worried, I knew there wasn't going to be any restrooms along the way. Luckily my stomach never gave me any problems at all. Maybe I need to get up at 3:45 before every run???? Uh no I don't think so!! LOL
The race director yelled start and we were off, Joan took off like a rocket and Arland and Rock were right in front of us, I was setting the pace for Bailey and myself and we were running very conservative. It was already hot and very humid!! I knew the first 3 miles were rolling hills and it would have been easy to run it faster but I didn't want to burn out before we started the climb up the mountain. Our first 2 miles were very steady they both came in at 9:58 and the third mile was a bit slower because of a walk break.
The first water station was right at mile 3 I have to say they did a great job on spacing out the aid stations, mile 3, 5 and 7 were perfect!
Bailey had asked me early in the race what my strategy was for walk breaks and i told her I didn't have one, I just wanted to run until I couldn't anymore.
It was so great having Bailey with me, we really had a good time and even stopped to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
In the first mile of the race there was a girl with a huge waist pack and when she ran it swished back and forth, O.M.G. it was killing me and I thought I really hope I can pass her soon so I don't have to see that the whole 9.3 miles. I was very relieved when we passed her before the first mile, poor thing I can only imagine how uncomfortable that had to have been!!
I discovered a new alternative to Gu's a few weeks ago... Honey Stinger chews. I used the honey stinger gels last year and by the time we finished training for Chicago I couldn't stand the thought of them anymore. Well when we were at "The Ride" in Conway picking out my bike I saw the chews. Eric the owner of The Ride gave them high marks so I decided to try them.. They are smaller than cliff block, probably about the size of Sharkies or Luna Moon's but they are rounder, softer and don't stick to your teeth!!
After about mile 5 when we had been doing a lot of walking my shoulders started hurting and my fingers were starting to swell, but i started pumping my arms as if I were running and it not only helped alleviate some of the pain it also helped me walk faster. I kept the pace the first couple of miles but then Bailey took over and she would pick out landmarks for us to from to, we would run from the arrow sign to the squiggly sign and so forth. It really helped get me running but let me tell you it was hard. From a distance I would think oh that's not very far it will be easy... HA!!!!
At the aid station at mile 7 they had fig newtons, oranges and bananas... normally I would NEVER eat stuff like that during a race especially one that didn't have any port a potties, but I had an orange wedge and a couple fig newtons. I had been good about taking my Honey Stingers every couple of miles and I think they did help but by the time we got to that aid station I really wanted something different... I was hoping they would have pretzels but no such luck.
I kept reminding myself that when we made it to the top we were going to be rewarded with cookies... chocolate chip cookies, banana nut bread etc.
Finally we rounded a steep curve and I saw the 9 mile marker and you could see the finish line... it was a welcome sight but first you had to get up a very steep incline. We were walking at the time but I have never crossed a finish line walking so we dug deep and ran it in, Bailey grabbed my hand and we ran in together hands clasped high... and then Bailey pushed me so that i would finish before her. Silly girl!! LOL
The finish line was located at an observation point and the view was just breathtaking... all I could think looking down into the valley was that I had run up that mountain. Me Annette Blanton ran up a mouintain... well walked/ran. My first stop after the race was the food table and I grabbed 5 cookies.. yep 5!!! I didn't care, everyone else just had one, but I had 5 and enjoyed every bit of them!!
I almost forgot to mention the "sag wagon" Becky drove up and down that mountain I don't know how many times checking on everyone, she would slow down and ask each person if they needed anything!! It was awesome knowing that help wasn't very far away if we needed it. The Park Ranger also drove the course several times checking on people.
As we were standing at the top waiting I heard Becky tell someone that there were still 10 people on the course and the last one's had just passed mile 6... I thought it would be a long time for the awards ceremony and my calf was hurting so I asked Bailey if she wanted to walk with me for a little while. We headed back down the course and caught up with an older gentleman we had seen at the start. I guess we got just a little over 1/2 a mile down when Arland called and said they were starting the awards ceremony so we turned around and headed back up. It was so funny .. Bailey had run ahead and the people at the finsih line were cheering for her, they thought she was just finishing.
I was the 18th female to cross the finish line... not sure how many females there were, but I wasn't last!! LOL
We were able to get a ride back down in the back of a pick up truck... I felt kind of bad because the awards ceremony was over but there were still people going up the hill... we made sure we cheered for all of them, and the crazy people who decided to run back down.
After we got back to the school we tried to find a place to change clothes... we were all SOAKED and desperately needed to get out of our wet clothes. We walked behind the school and find a little alcove, it wasn't really private but it looked like the only choice. I didnt' think about it until later but I hope there weren't any security camera's back there!! We all just kind of turned our backs and stripped down and got dressed. What a relief to get out of those wet clothes!!!
We stopped in Russellville for breakfast at I-hop and it was 3:00 by the time we made it home... I was beyond exhausted!! But like I said in the beginning I wouldn't trade that day for anything!!!!