I didn’t want to have winter babies; I wanted to be able to have outdoor parties and barbecues to celebrate their birthdays. My first kid was all set to be born in early September, but a miscarriage messed things up so Megan didn’t arrive till late January. Liam’s due date was a more reasonable late March, but then the little booger showed up six weeks early, still in the mid of winter. That left us with two birthdays to celebrate when there aren’t a lot of options in the Pacific Northwest; certainly we wouldn’t be having any picnics or barbecues!
|Every kid would choose this over their mom. At least mine would.|
So instead we headed up to the Great Wolf Lodge in the upscale metropolis of Grand Round, WA this past weekend. For those of you not familiar with the Great Wolf Lodge, it is a ginormous hotel with an indoor water park teeming with children hyped up on sugar and the excitement of donning bathing suits at a time when the outside temps hover just above freezing. And there are water slides! A weekend in a basic room is more than a monthly mortgage payment on the average American home, and yet, the hotel is booked solid every weekend, including all the fancy (and significantly more pricey) animal themed suites with miniature log cabins for the kids. But the kids wanted to go, and well, it was for their birthdays. Oh, and what a coincidence! There just happened to be a La Sportiva Mountain Cup race less than a half hour away! I am sure the kids wouldn’t mind; it is not like it was their actual birthdays. Plus, there are water slides; they’d never miss me!
So Saturday morning, I headed off to run and the kids headed off to the water park. Due to the torrential rain during and after the race, I think I ended up getting the wettest!
The race started on a gentle uphill grade and I was holding myself back to stay with the leading women. But a quarter of a mile in, the road quickly steepened and five women went flying by like I was dragging a tire! My quads were burning and I kept thinking, “Ah, man, this should be power hiking!” I did run every step, but you wouldn’t know it for how much time the front runners put on me. Starting around mile one, I was pretty much just waiting to get to the top so we could turn around and come back down.
|It's much steeper than it looks!|
Ironically, I think of myself as an uphill runner. If you ask me about Western States, I will tell you without a doubt in my mind, I won it on the uphills. But this race made me realize I am not really an uphill runner. There are some fast men and women out there who can eat up climbs like gravity doesn’t affect them!
About three and a half miles in, the trail came out on another road with just a gradual climb. In the next half mile I passed three guys and one gal. “This is the stuff I am good at!” I thought to myself. And then it hit me: this was “douche grade”, the not so kind name mountain runners give to the least challenging uphill grades. And honestly, I wasn’t going much faster than ultramarathon pace. Nope, I am not an uphill runner; I am a douche grade jogger!
I didn’t catch anybody on the downhill, but I only got passed once and my legs felt strong, so I was pretty happy with the latter half of the race. I held on for 5th women - nothing too spectacular but a solid effort in a race WAY outside of my comfort zone, plus some good early season quad pounding. And perhaps the best part: I still got a whole afternoon of water sliding in after the race was over!