This time last year, I had a two-month old baby and a bachelorette party to go to in Bend, Oregon, about three or four hours from Portland. I hadn’t given birth yet when I signed on for the bachelorette party, but I was pretty sure that going to Bend for a weekend when I had an eight-week old would be no biggie, and that I would definitely be ready to party super hard. Because having a baby is just like not having a baby, except there’s a baby there, right? All I needed was for my baby-daddy to be in Bend the whole weekend and deliver the baby to me every time we needed to nurse, but to otherwise remain invisible and NOT put a damper on our bachelorette party excitement. Luckily, I have a pretty helpful baby-daddy who was fine with this plan as long as he got to do some race while he was there. So then all he needed was for his parents to come along to watch our baby while he went to go do the Haulin’ Aspen Half-As (a half-half-marathon, about 6.5 miles). Luckily, his parents are pretty helpful too, and came along without even requiring anyone else to come along with them to hand baby-duties off to at any point.
Chris ran really fast as usual, and got second place, winning himself a free entry into the race for next year. Which brings me to the main point of this post, which is that we went to Bend again this year so Chris could run it again, but it was more fun this time because I wasn’t two months postpartum, and I got to run the race too – and there was even another bachelorette party for me to meet up with too (note: the race was more fun, not the whole trip, because Laura’s bachelorette party was pretty great)! And I even got a free race entry too, because I didn’t bring any cash so Chris and his dad paid for me. This is a great trick in general, by the way. Just don’t have any money with you ever, and people will feel like they have to pay for you if they want you to participate in whatever with them.
I signed up the morning of, and refused the free bag of stuff because I’m a minimalist now, which means I enjoy getting rid of my things and listening to podcasts by minimalists who talk about how being a minimalist is about so much more than just getting rid of your things. The woman registering me acted shocked and convinced me to at least take the neck scarf thing even though I was upset that it came in a plastic bag since I’ve recently developed a severe case of ecoanxiety (which at least was significantly reduced when I found out there was a cool name for it). After getting over her initial shock that someone would refuse stuff, she got really excited that she could have the chapstick from my rejected bag. As the minimalist podcast dudes would say, it just made me feel so wonderful to pass on that chapstick to someone who could find so much value in it.
Once I was registered, I stuck to my normal routine of forgoing any real warm-up in the interest of saving all of my running energy for the actual race, and took this selfie instead.
As we lined up to the race start, the announcer warned us that the first half-mile or so was pretty intense uphill, so we should pace ourselves. During this time, I was having my typical pre-race mental talk with myself, that goes something like this:
Me: None of these people look that fast. I can probably beat most of them!
Also Me: Okay, some of them look kind of fast. I can probably beat some of them, definitely not all.
Me: I wouldn’t be so sure – I’ve been running semi-consistently for like three months now, that’s gotta count for something!
Also Me: Yeah, it will probably count for running a decent race and finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Me: But what makes you so sure I won’t just spontaneously be super-insanely fast today and win first place?
Also Me: I guess I don’t have any way of knowing that…
Me: See? I’m probably going to win!
Also Me: You do have a good point…
Me: I’M DEFINITELY GOING TO WIN!
Also Me: Okay, I’m on board, TODAY IS THE DAY!
At this point in the conversation, the starting gun usually goes off, and I take off at an all-out blistering pace, convinced I’m going to win. This start was no different, but I’m a lot better than I used to be at bringing myself down and setting more reasonable expectations for myself, so I was able to tone it down a little.
I saw two women run off ahead of me right away, and immediately started feeling the elevation (about 5500 feet), but also was able to keep running up the steep incline – something I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do three months ago, before the spring and summer Portland Trail Series. After a couple minutes, we started heading downhill, and I noticed that there weren’t any other women around, putting me in third place for the time being. I also noticed that the uphill had definitely been less than the half-mile promised, which was soon explained when we hit a new hill to trudge up, which was clearly the one he had warned us about, and felt like way more than a half-mile.
I finally made it to the end of the difficult uphill, and the rest of the race was fairly gentle up/down along a trail, with one segment on a gravel road. Honestly I don’t remember much about the middle 4 miles of the race, except for when we hit the gravel road and one guy looked out at the stretch of road in front of us and said to me, “pretty boring part, huh?” And I agreed. I also remember that for most of the race, I had the first verse of “Whoomp! (There it is)” stuck in my head, as featured in the Girl Talk album, Feed the Animals. In case you need refreshing, the lyrics go like this:
Tag team, back again
Check it to wreck it, let’s begin
Party on, party people, let me hear some noise
DC’s in the house, jump, jump, rejoice
Says there’s a party over here, a party over there
Wave your hands in the air, shake your derierre
These three words mean you’re gettin’ busy:
Whoomp, there it is! Hit me!
So just imagine that verse running through your head, over and over, for about a half hour, and you’ll have a good feel for what my race was like. I used to listen to that album when I was running, but it got me too pumped up and I would start races even faster than I do now, so I don’t listen to anything while I’m running anymore. Plus, this way I can hear people who are trying to sneak up on me during the race. I passed a few people during the run, a couple of them passed me back, and a couple of people who had been behind me passed me and stayed ahead. But I kept getting passed only by men, so about halfway through the race I started getting excited that maybe I really would make it into the top three. Then for the rest of the race, I had to fight the urge to look behind me to see if any women were creeping up on me. There’s no real reason you can’t turn around during a race and see who’s coming up from behind, but it makes you seem nervous and like you lack confidence, so I try not to do it.
Finally, the race got to a point where there were some switchbacks and I could see that the only person behind me for at least 100 meters was an older man, who I didn’t want to pass me, but wasn’t threatening my top three position. So I ran just fast enough to stay ahead of him, and crossed the finish line as the third place woman with a time of 55:32 (8:32 min/mile). It’s kind of unusual to get third place in a race with a pace like that, but I guess that’s what happens when it’s a slow trail race, and all of the competitive runners went for the half-marathon or marathon!
One of the best parts of the race was that they did awards almost right away. This is important, because no matter how fun you think your row of booths with knick knacks and free beer is, people don’t want to stand around for another two hours waiting for their prize hat or whatever. In this case, I won a free entry to the race next year, so I guess I might be going back again. Here’s a picture of me getting my Third-Place Champion prize:
Chris won second place for men (and overall, I guess), and his prize bag had almost the exact same stuff in it. So kind of would have been a waste to try to run faster and get second place. But I don’t know what first place winner got – probably something way better that would totally be worth it.
Other things that have been happening – like I mentioned, I finished the summer Portland Trail Series races, and now I’m looking forward to starting the fall series at the end of the month. Apparently you have to run in the dark some of the time and everyone I’ve talked to says they’re not doing it because you have to use a flashlight and they’re afraid of tripping. I’m also training for a half marathon that’s coming up in a few weeks, and I have a lot to say about that, but will save it for another night.
And, for old time’s sake:
Miles run this week: 14
Miles run in 2017: At least 190 (I haven’t really been keeping track, but that’s how many miles I’ve logged in Strava, which is not accurate because my Garmin isn’t accurate and Strava doesn’t let me edit my runs… so I could probably say at least 200 or 210 or something)