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Sunday, October 9, 2011

What would you do-oo-oo for a Klondike race?*

Would you get up at the crack of dawn?  (anything)

Would you ride with friends? (anything)

Would you get a little lost? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you pass a lake? (anything)

Would you love the fall colors? (anything)

Would you run on singletrack? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you talk and laugh? (anything)

Would you appreciate the flats? (anything)

Would you wish the teeter totter was part of the track? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you slide down gravel? (anything)

Would you scale a cliff? (anything)

Would you sing the Rocky theme incessantly as you ran uphill? (anything...anything to race!)

Would you count down miles? (anything)

Would you push hard at the end? (anything)

Would you finish with a smile? (anything...anything to race!)

I think I've mentioned a time or two that I was hurting after last Sunday's private half ironman, so when I agreed to yesterday's trail race at Klondike Park, I did so with the understanding that I was going to take it easy.  I'd walked several miles during the week, but I wasn't sure how a run would go.  Even so, I was looking forward to getting to hang out in the woods with some of my friends.

Judy, Vanessa, and Lindsay picked me up at about 6:30 and we met Krystal and Jeff (not my Jeff) at the park, near Augusta, MO.  Despite some slight navigational difficulties, we got there in plenty of time to sign up.  Since most of us hadn't pre-registered, the lady who checked us in said we could come back after the race to see if there were enough shirts for us to get one.  I was hoping there would be because I liked the shirts.

Krystal, Lindsay, Judy, me, and Vanessa before the race
The park is in a beautiful area with river views, bluff views, and a lake which was once a quarry.  Though fall is in evidence through the changing leaves, the temperature by race time was straight summer, and I was glad for my sleeveless top.

The race started on a paved road and then curved down around the lake.  Apparently they used to mine for silica sand there, and there was plenty of sand blowing across the trail and beside the lake area.

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The lake is to the left here
Lindsay and I had agreed to stick together and take it easy, and by the time we were at the lake we were well behind most everyone else.  We decided it would be pretty cool to come in last.  Normally it would stress me out to be so far in the back, but my entire goal for the race was to hang out with my friend, have fun, and run as much as my knees let me.  As it turned out, my knees did just fine, and the other two goals pretty much went hand in hand.

The first mile was primarily paved trail with a short stretch of trail and then a long hill.  We opted to walk the big hill.  Once we got to the top, though, we got to run downhill on some sweet singletrack. 

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Yeah...I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.
I love running on trails.  So much.  Add the colors and the company and I was just having a wonderful time.  In addition to talking the whole way, I spent the run checking out the trails to see how I'd like mountain biking on them (I think it's a bit above my abilities at this point, though).  The first section of singletrack wasn't too technical, but there was a lot of downhill (not my strong suit on a bike) and some fairly tight switchbacks.  Luckily, my running skills were up to the challenge.

Coming into our third mile we ran into Vanessa, who wasn't feeling well, so we all ran the rest of the way together.  There was a water/gatorade stop at mile 3, and then the arrows pointed us onto the Katy Trail.  I've done two different week-long bike trips on the Katy, so it's just a special place to me.  It makes me happy just being there...plus, it's nice and flat. :)

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Some day maybe I'll stop taking pictures on the run...
We got to share the trail with all kinds of people out on their bikes (which also makes me happy) until we were back at an entrance to Klondike Park.  Having decided that the race would be better training for the many hills of Pere Marquette if I actually ran some of these hills, I made it to the top of this one. 

Back in Klondike, the race route took us to the singletrack on the other side of the park.  This part was considerably more rocky and technical, with some cool bike skills areas (teeter totter, drops, etc).



I'd love to see somebody else ride this, but I think I'd still be an admiring spectator at this point. :)

There was another water stop at mile 5ish, and though we were hopeful about nice, flat trails ahead, the ranger on duty assured us there was no such luck.   After passing him, we headed down a steep, loose-gravel  hill.  With the gravel sliding under my feet, I almost fell twice but managed to make it to the bottom without injury. We had said hi to a lady on her way up, and she wasn't particularly friendly, but when we made the return trip we realized that she probably only had enough energy to breathe and keep moving forward. 

It was a long way back up that hill, but I made it, humming the "Rocky" music the whole way.  I may have even raised my hands in the air like the champion I am when I got to the top.  I'm not sure...it's all a fog now. :)  We passed our ranger friend again and then headed back towards the beginning.  Knowing that the end was near, I picked up my pace a little bit.  I was really enjoying myself and had a big smile on my face.  We got back to where we'd started, and the arrows were pointing us back towards the lake.

Really?  I kind of thought we were basically done.  :-/  Still pushing, we rounded the lake, crossed the bridge to see the smiling faces (and cameras) of the friends who'd been finished for some time, and up a hill to the finish line.  My time was 1:29:16 for the 7 mile race (49 out of 56).  Possibly my slowest time, but most definitely some of the most fun that I've had in a race.

As recovery runs go, this one was pretty much ideal, and it was made better by the post-race food.  There was bread from Great Harvest Bread Co. and honey.  I love honey, and on that grainy bread it was delicious.  And if three pieces of bread weren't enough, we stopped at O'Connell's in St. Louis for some awesome burgers, fries, and pickles.

This was the second in the St. Charles County Parks "Wild in the Woods" trail race series.  Unfortunately, "real life" is going to keep me away from #3, but I'm hoping I might be able to make it to the final one, and I'm going to do my best to clear my schedule (ha ha) for these next year.    If you live in the St. Louis area, check out this race series.  They have well-run races in amazing parks.  You won't regret it.

*Thanks to Lindsay for letting me borrow her facebook comment for a title. Thanks, also, to her for making me crave a Klondike bar all day. And for the two glasses of wine, which weren't ice cream but certainly did the trick. :)

12 comments:

  1. I love reading you and feeling like I got my run in..... you really describe things as though anyone could just go right out and do it. Yeah - here's me going....
    yep.

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  2. you left out my favorite part, the super steep, almost cliff like rock face you have to run down. I really need to gt back to these races they are great.

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  3. Sometimes, girls just gotta have fun! Great job on enjoying your day!!

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  4. After reading this post I would like to enter a race like this. It would be a new experience for me.
    The finishing time is not the main thing, more important is the fun and a good day to remember.

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  5. Sounds like a great event and series. Well done! I agree that this was a perfect recovery run.

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  6. What a wonderful race! You made me homesick, too. I grew up in Columbia, MO and started running on a Katy Trail spur called the MKT. If I'm ever in the area for one of these races, I'll totally sign up.

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  7. I always know I'm having fun in a race when I begin singing the Rocky theme music out loud :)

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  8. I like this post.
    Are you ever going to have a weekend without racing? You are something. You must have so many friends to race with. Yeah!
    What's up next?

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  9. sounds like a great time with great friends on awesome trails with really nice weather. What could be better?

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  10. How FUN!!!! Your family must think you are one very fun momma, the things you do never cease to amaze me! When you come to Colorado, I'm going to show you some great trails to run on, I can't wait!

    I obviously haven't been on FB much (imagine!) so missed your updates. I was pretty much focusing on me for a couple days, but don't worry - I still thought of you :).

    Nice job chica...and you didn't even come in last! What's up with that?!?

    ;)

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  11. You know I come here to live vicariously through your adventures. Sounds like another fabulous one!

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