Saturday, March 29, 2008

Birch Bay Road Race

Drove up to Birch Bay yesterday after work in the sleet and snow and crawling traffic... but got to our cute little room in the "Tropico" before dark. Wil made a mushroom and pasta bake (unintented carbo loading) and we tried to have an early night, though we were both a little worried about the run and the rain.

This morning there was a little squall right about 7:45, which made us both worry a bit, but it cleared up. We layered up and both had waterproof jackets on, just in case. Got to the start, got our numbers (264 for me, 315 for Wil), and our TECH SOCKS! Woo-hoo! Blustery and chilly, but not raining.

Lined up with the 15K gang, behind the 30K group and ahead of the 5K mob. I had that same "umm, what on earth are we about to do?" feeling that I always do, especially after the 30K group set off. Then with a WOOOO we were off, running over the mats and down the hill. Lots of standing water from yesterday's rain meant the runners were all over the road, at one point surrounding an old gentleman's car like a herd of deer. Just before we hit the 1K sign, the first of the 5K runners caught up with us and turned around. On we ran -- 2K, 3K. When we got to our motel, Wil took off his coat and gloves and hid them by the door. Picked up a cup of very cold water at the first aid station, promptly spilling it down my front. Whee. Good thing I had the waterproof jacket on.

Then into the state park, which was beautiful and quiet. We were towards the back of the pack, but feeling comfortable so we just kept rolling. We saw the 4K marker, then nothing. No markers, no aid stations, nothing. But we could see the pack ahead of us, so we kept on. I began to fret, because I had looked at the map and knew that there was a turnaround point at the halfway mark -- and no runners had come back the other way.

So on we ran. Lots of murmuring runners. Wondering what was going on, and where the freakin' aid station was. I noticed spray-painted marking at the turns, and of course could see the rest of the pack, but I was pretty sure that we had all taken a wrong turn, somewhere.

Finally, we made a turn towards another entrance to the state park... and saw an aid station. Picked up some Gatorade and a Hammer Gel (mmm, apple and cinnamon tastes like pie filling), and then waited in line for 5 minutes to use the Honey Bucket. Oh well, it gave us a chance to stretch.

I tried not to be too worried when I noticed that there was an obvious "turnaround" marking painted on the road.

A few hundred yards after that aid station, we saw a K marker, hoping it said 11. But, no, it said 7. Lots more grumbling by the runners around us. Down through the park and back down to the waterfront, where I realized where we had all gone wrong. But a lack of signage (or even a single volunteer to point out the way) meant we had all gone way off course.

But then back along the waterfront, where we thought, okay, this is only 3K from the start, so we'll be fine... except that there was a "tail" at the end of the run where you continue past the start for another few K. Sigh. But on and on we ran. We started seeing people who had hit the final turnaround and were encouraging us, telling us it's really a 19K. Fun! One couple heard the news and decided to just stop and go up to the finish. In fact we saw a lot of runners just bail and head up to the finish line, rather than run it out.

We decided to just run it out. I mean, we could see the final turnaround only another K up the road. So up we went, and back down. Then up the steepest hill of the course, where I had to stop and walk because I just couldn't breathe any more. Then a right turn (again, no indicators, but we knew the general direction) and then, hurrah hurrah, the finish. I don't think I've ever been quite so happy to see the finish line.

We smiled for our race photos (I'm sure mine will look like a grimace...), hobbled across the line, and were told it turned out to be an 18.5K course. Oops. So 11.5 miles, which is 3 miles longer than either of us has ever run. But the very friendly volunteers took our chips, told us how strong and brave we were, and gave us lovely finishers' medals.

Now, all warm and cozy and showered and clean, my right hip is really bothering me, as are Wil's knees. But we did it. And now we have earned margaritas. :)

1 comment:

  1. The carbo loading was intentional... And cheezy... And tasty... :-)