Yesterday was Sapper Joe 30k. Originally, Katherine and I had signed up for this race together, but she ended up having to drop to the 15k. I got up at 3:10am, did my whole pre-long run ritual before heading out to Camp Williams. I wasn't too nervous, but I was still excited. The starting area had two huge tanks, which were super cool! It was a fairly small race, and the 30k and 50k runners all started at 5am. I chatted with a few other runner, the race director gave us the pre-race briefing, reminding us not to pick up anything shiny, a cannon blasted and we were on our way!
The first four miles were straight uphill. I was quickly at the back of the pack. I ran (more like trudged) off and on with two fellows who had done this race before, one doing the 30k and the other the 50k. After a long, slow climb with plenty rocky loose footing I was happy to see we were at the peak. Then, I wasn't happy when I saw the decent we had to make! It was just as steep and I could barely move down it at more than a shuffle. I passed a gal in a purple Nathan pack, also doing the 30k, and we chatted about how long it was going to take us at this rate! The last stretch to the first aid station as very runnable, so I took advantage of it and ran!
The aid station folks were very friendly and encouraging. I grabbed a drink of water and a banana and headed back uphill! The next four miles were rolling, although still uphill, I was able to mostly run them. I wasn't sure if I was enjoying myself or not, until the gal with the purple pack caught up to me and we talked about how beautiful the course was and I remembered that this was just a training run and I should enjoy the day! Then there was a small climb to aid station two and I was really happy to see these folks. This was a hard course and I was already starting to feel beat up and I was only at mile 11! I ate some melon and they filled my pack for me before they sent me straight up!
Now this next climb was another steep, slow climb. After about a mile, one of the fellows I had done the first climb with came along. He had run this race before and was very encouraging telling me how much more climbing we had until the top. I was thankful for the bit of company, but then he headed on and I was alone again. I was pretty sure there was only one runner left behind me. I was starting to become discouraged. I had thought I'd finish this in about four hours and at my current pace, it was going to be over five hours! It was also a lot harder than I had anticipated and my legs were getting thrashed! I decided to try to just be in the moment and enjoy myself, so I started singing along to my mp3 player and looking around at the views. I was still grumbling and cursing the rocks under foot, but I was trying to enjoy it.
There were so many rocks on the course, that even the runnable sections were hard to run because of the bloody rocks! I came along another runner who was shuffling even slower and I and we both said we were ok, but not great and then I moved on. Finally I came to the last peak and was surprised to see the next aid station. For some reason, I had it in my head that there were only two aid stations. I was happy to pull into that aid station! I had some watermelon and continued on. This was at about mile 14. It was all downhill from here.
The last section was really nice. Had my legs not been totally pounded, I could have flown down the last several miles. But they were and I didn't. I was trying to keep my pace steady, but I was hovering between a 10-12 minute pace. I knew the course was long, but not I didn't know exactly how long. I put both ear buds in, turned up the jams and sang as I dug deep. Along came the 50k winner, cruising along like he was taking a nice little stroll in the park. I kept digging. This had been hard! I came across the purple pack gal again. She was walking and told me her knees were done and she couldn't run any more. We talked for a minute, wished each other luck and I motored on.
The last few miles were hard, but I was able to keep running. Coming back into the camp was great. I was so happy to be finished! I finished in just over what it took me to run the Saint George marathon! This was a tough race! But, I did it!
Tanks at the start.
View from the first climb.
Coming out of the first aid station.
There was a lot of fire damage in the middle section of the course.
The climb out of the second aid station.
This is hard, but I'm still smiling!
It was a beautiful day!
The final stretch!
Thanks for kicking my butt Sapper Joe!