Fortunately I was able to find a race through the mountains that Sunday, about 1.5 days after arising in the Rocky altitude.
The race was held at Bogus Basin ski resort as part of the first ever Bogus Basin Roundup. This opened the ski lifts to the mountain biking community for the day. Worked into the schedule was a mountain bike race at 8:45 at a running race with either a 6mile or 11mile option at 9:15. I signed up for the 11 mile and my boyfriend, Bryan Kirk, not a runner, not having run since he ran the Rock and Roll half marathon in Va Beach for me without training last September, signed up for the 6 mile. My goal in the race was to gain strength/endurance by pushing myself in a different way, not to win the race. So my plan was to take it easy by pushing myself during the difficult parts like a regular workout. Thus, I planned to (and did) stop and drink water at every water station to 'pace' myself as though it were a workout with friends, not a race. I honestly thought I may come in last while driving up there, as I was up at elevation in the Rockies, running hills/mountains for the first time in over a year and I what it means to run that difficult terrain at elevation on a regular basis.
The runners (I think there were ~50 including 3 kids less than 10 doing the shorter course, so adorable!!!!) started at the lodge and ran ~2 miles downhill to the ski lift. The ski lift then took us to the top of the mountain. I was quite happy for this break on the ski lift because I could feel the elevation and was sore from my 10 mile 'hill run' the day before where I was so eager to run up a mountain, I neglected to consider the race the next day. I got to ride and make friends with Jake Jacobs, a fellow soccer player and medical person while on the chairlift as well, which just added to the feeling of camaraderie that pervaded the race. Jake Jacobs won the 6 mile race :)
At the top we had the choice of chugging a beer or root beer. While I started the race with the full intention of chugging a beer, the burning in my quads and feeling of dehydration quickly changed my decision to rootbeer (and root beer has NEVER tasted so good). Then I took off down the mountain's single track trails.
These photos of me and Bryan were taken just before the 6 mile group broke off I think ~ mile 4 or 5 to go down to the finish, while the longer group continued down the mountain, winding back onto single track. The single track especially on the second part was amazing. As I ran down it, I felt like I was flying and floating like a bird soaring past wildflowers. That feeling and type of experience is what makes running rewarding.
That trail ended about 2 miles below the lodge and the last two miles were a difficult uphill slog. True to my word, I stopped at every water stop and chugged multiple cups of water. Thus, I had a solid workout-race where I pushed myself hard on new terrain and was sore the next day.
To my surprise, in the end, I came in 1st for women and second overall. In my eyes, this is a huge success because I had no clue that I could be competitive in the world of mountain racing while living in Norfolk, Va and running on pavement for 23/24ths of the year. It is wonderful to know that the mountains are so much a part of me that I can be competitive my first race back in the mountains, less than 36 hours arriving at elevation, and on sore legs :) Yay! I love running and try hard at it every day and that consistency and effort can show even when facing new challenges.
As is normal with a second place, I also wonder whether I could have gotten first if I had pushed myself harder to 'race'. And this I will never know, because if I had I could have gotten dehydrated or burned out of gas. Also if I was less than minute behind the winner Mark Austin (who finished a minute and a half ahead of me), he may have found extra gas in his tank that would have left me in the dust. But as is, I may have taken a bit too long at the water stations so I didn't give my competitor as good of a run for our money as I could/should have under the circumstances.
My boyfriend, Bryan Kirk, shown going over great falls, came in second for the 5 mile race. He is a professional whitewater kayaker who is a team manager for wavesport. The last time he ran more than two miles was last september for the Va Beach Rock & Roll half marathon (which he also did for me). This just goes to show what it means to be an amazing athlete and competitor. Some people (like him) are naturally good, and some people (like me) have to work every day to be good.
I would like to thank Pulse Running Store for putting on this wonderful race. Like I said, experiences like this are what make running, training, and trying your hardest worthwhile!