I am usually the person convincing other people to do crazy things. So, it was refreshing when my friend, Shannon, talked me into registering for the Sylamore 25K. Honestly, I thought that since registration usually fills up in 20 minutes, I'd be safe (as in out of luck!), but no, I got a spot. Registration is at the end of October. The race is in February. That gave me about three and a half months to completely freak out.
But why? Well, I've never done a 25K. Technically 25K = 15.5 miles, but for whatever reason, 25K races vary. In this case, the race was 16.7 miles.
Also, I don't really run trails. I love trails! I just don't run them that often.
Among my other concerns--I've been battling some pretty pesky injuries since last soccer season. But I dutifully went to the doctor and physical therapy and followed (most of) their directions. I definitely wasn't feeling 100%, but I was at least 85%.
Oh, and I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but the weather has been the suck. I have been less than diligent about getting up at 5:30am to run in sub 20 degree temps.
So, yes, panic has been my best friend. I mostly tried to avoid thinking/talking about the race until the last minute. Shannon and I did two long trail runs, tested out some gear, and even purposely stood in a lake to see what running with wet feet feels like.
I spent most of last week behaving--eating well, not drinking, and getting lots of sleep.
On Friday, I picked Shannon up and we headed to Mountain View, Arkansas. I felt as prepared as I could be given the excuses listed above, and decided to enjoy the race and just focus on finishing and not getting hurt.
Saturday morning, race day, we confidently headed to the start. The race director told us the 25K race had been postponed for about 30 minutes to give the 50Kers a little extra time. Why would they need more time? Well, we found out that the first mile or so of the course was covered in ice!
So that creek crossing we'd worried so much about? Butter!
The first mile of the course? Not so much! We saw a woman nearly slip to her death here. It was scary.
I mean, really.
BUT! Everyone was being extremely careful and it did NOT feel like a race at all, at least in the beginning. It was like being on a really fun group hike.
There were parts that eventually were runnable, and on the way back the ice had turned to slushy mud, which was a lot better than straight up ice. But Sylamore alums all agreed that these were the worst race conditions ever.
So a really hard course was that much harder. But you know what? We did it! And it was actually really, really fun! I didn't fall or get hurt and at the end of 16.7, which took me about 5 and a half hours to run/hike thanks to the ice & snow, I was still smiling!
I've got some super grody blisters and some pretty uncomfortable chaffing, but otherwise I feel great.
Thank you, Shannon, for talking me into this!
I told her that I didn't think I needed to ever do it again, but now I'm not so sure.