Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Living History Farms Race

This year's Living History Farms Off Road Race was a good one. A good cold one. The race time temperature was about 10 degrees. That's the risk you take when signing up in early fall. You don't know what will happen. Of course, that's true for any race so I guess it was really no different.

I drove down to LHF Friday night for packet pick-up for a bunch of us. As I stood there I looked down the line of people and who should I see but Amanda! She joined me and we chatted about how to run the race, what time to get there, should we carpool and what should we wear for such weather. Now I will confess I spend quite a bit of time deciding what to wear for races because 1. It has to match the weather 2. It has to work well (no chaffing) 3. It has to make me feel powerful 4. It has to be somewhat awesome looking. While you make think #'s 3 and 4 are about vanity, it's really more to do with mental games. Look good, feel good. For instance, if I'm feeling sluggish I can think to myself "I'm wearing compression tights and that's powering my legs and I'm not tired." (And now you know some of the mental mind-tricks I play in my head.)

So back to what to wear. Amanda said she was going to stop at Goodwill and pick up some layering clothes to shed once we got started. I thought that was brilliant and found a great outfit for myself at Goodwill. Oh, I can't remember where Amanda's sweatshirt is from, but she could certainly toss that hat!
Now my outfit is courtesy of the department of soil conservation and red velour sweatpants. I tell you, this is a retreat outfit made for the 90's!! About a mile and a half in, we peeled them off and offered them to the other runners. No one took them.

Running in the cold is only a little cold usually. Your body warms up once you get going. I put hand-warmers in my gloves and that really helped my fingers, which do get cold, stay much warmer. Since we were going to cross the creek several times I wore lighter weight shoes and wool socks to help the water shed more quickly. I've found that to work best for me. 

The water crossings were wet and cold, of course. The second crossing has many rocks that most people try to walk across to keep dry longer but because of the snow two days before and the continued cold temperatures, the rocks became icy and were no help at all. The second water crossing was the toughest I'd say and I saw a girl go all the way down, face and all, smacking her knee hard. I hollered to Amanda to come help me get her out. We got her out and thankfully there was course help to take care of her. 

All of it, the slick packed down snow, the icy rocks, the frigid water, it's part of the mental game of running this race. You just have to do it. Look for the safest way to get down into the water and then go. I high-stepped to keep myself from sitting in the water too long. 

Because of the slickness, the race was a little bit slower paced than in past years. There was a lot of "Whoa!" and "Ah!" and so on. You sort of become this little family looking out for each other. For instance, I forgot how many hill scrambles there are. There is a trail but it's clogged with people and you take to the rest of the hill to get up. I was only a couple steps from the top when this big guy comes from behind, grabs my waist and literally hauls me up the rest of the way. Why, yes, surprise did register across my face! 

My favorite part this year was a short interaction I had with another runner. There are short steep climbs that are very doable and as Amanda and I were making our way up one, I saw an older woman chugging along and looked down at her number bib to see if I could make out how old she was. It said 70. I was passing her but the fact that she was far enough ahead that I passed her was a big deal to me. I told her she was doing great and I wanted to look like her when I was older. She told me "I want to look like you!" 

The creek crossings are done and all that's left is the hill that I swore last year I would run this year. All my time goals had disappeared with the slipperiness and downed runner but that hill still remained. I yelled to Amanda that I was NOT stopping on that hill! We hit that thing and finished it hard. It was a great feeling.

Speaking of feeling, after we were done running we couldn't feel our fingers and toes. Sure, we were warmed up but the distraction of running was gone, our bodies were working to keep our cores warm and it left our extremities out in the cold (hahaha!). Bill had finished ahead of us and brought some warm layers for us. Then we hit the stew tent and slammed that steamy bowl down while making our way to the donuts. Seriously, there has never been any other race where I've wanted a donut after but I always eat one here. This year, however, the donuts were frozen. Frozen like a brick. 

We headed back to our car and came home where we took our final group shot before soaking and soaking and soaking in a hot shower.

I'll tell you its such an adrenaline rush to do a race like this. The rest of the day I was literally shaking, not because I was cold or too much coffee, but because it's such a mental rush. The only thing I'd change is I'd trade my medal for a blanket instead. Please hand out finisher's blankets next year.

Our friends, Joe and Jacqui and kids, couldn't make it this year so we're hoping for next year with them.

2012 race  2011 race


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