I ran another race this weekend. Although it was not as huge or emotional as my half marathon last weekend, it was unique for two reasons: 1) it was a two-day race, and 2) I was a co-director of the event.
Our race was called the Palouse Double, and it took place in two states - on Moscow Mountain in Idaho and on Kamiak Butte in Washington. Basically, the goal of the race is to run as many loops as possible (or as desired) in a seven-hour window. Runners, walkers, and hikers of varying abilities and levels of seriousness came out, and it was a lot of fun. Here are the highlights (for me as a runner, not as a director).
The day was beautiful, and after the .8-mile climb to the trail head (carrying camp chairs, Gatorade, and other race items), the race began at 8:00 AM.
I decided to run my first lap with another runner, and we had a great time just taking it slow and easy. We enjoyed the shady, fern-bordered trail; the open, meadow-y areas; and even the switchbacks that took us up the mountain and back down again. We joked about how the trail seemed to be uphill both ways, and we never worried about our 20-minute/mile pace.
A little over half way down the mountain, the other director of the race (and the one who was attempting to run 28 miles that day) caught up with us. Surprisingly, he decided to finish the lap with us, even though my left knee had started hurting something awful and we were going even slower than before.
Once we finished the first lap, I decided to ice my knee and play cheerleader for the other participants. And when no one was around, I soaked up the sun, watched chipmunks dart here and there, and attempted to finish an unexpectedly difficult crossword puzzle.
After my ice was melted, and my knee was sufficiently numb, I decided to do a second lap. I don't have much to say about this lap other than my mind was glad that I did it even though my body wasn't. My knee hurt almost immediately, and I ended up walking almost 100% of the loop.
At the end of the day, I was happy to have completed 8 miles on the race course, and an additional mile or so on the road leading up to the trail head. Not too shabby for a Saturday on Moscow Mountain!
I awoke around 2 AM with pains down my left leg. My knee was sore, and my IT Band felt like it was seizing up. I took some anti-inflammatories and tried to get back to sleep.
I awoke again around 4 and again sometime before my alarm was scheduled to go off at 5:45 AM. Needless to say, I was not rested, nor was my body excited about the second day of the Palouse Double. I gave my attitude a pep talk before reaching Kamiak Butte, saying, "You've felt this pain before, and it is temporary. Right now you just need to toughen up, find some energy reserves, and be excited for this race that you helped create. You can do this!"
About an hour after the official start time, I decided to make my way up the butte. The 1-mile climb to the top is brutal on the ol' lungs, and my heart was beating about a mile a minute. I felt the burn in my calves and tried to change my climbing technique to use other muscles. Once I reached the summit, I took a big breath and could feel the relief throughout my body.
The ridge of Kamiak Butte is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. It is just magnificent. I spent a lot of time up there taking pictures, getting photos taken of me, enjoying the view, and talking to other hikers. (I know, I know. I was supposed to be "racing," but sometimes I believe that talking to people trumps original plans. I met a couple of really neat people up there who reminded me to take care of my body, to take lots of pictures to remember my favorite moments, and to enjoy the beauty around me.)
After a very painful descent to the bottom of the butte, I decided that my first lap was going to be my only lap. I took a seat in my camp chair, put some ice on my knee, and fell asleep.
I only ran 2.5 miles, and it took over an hour, but I was proud to be one of the race's only "doublers."
In the end, the two-day race experience was a good one. I completed a total of over 10 miles, and came in first in my division (even though I was the only one in my division). Woo Hoo!