When I signed up for the Loon Mountain Race earlier this summer I didn’t really know exactly what I was getting myself into. I’ve always admired mountain runners. Drooled over the possibility of some day racing the Leadville 100, the Bridger Ridge Run, the Gortex TransRockies… (yes I have an adventure bucket list)
When I picked Loon I thought… “Oh neat and fun!”
As we got closer to race day I knew the field would be deep and talented. Turns out to be the deepest field ever for the US at Women’s Mountain Running Champs.
There I was. Suddenly in the toughest field I have ever run with. On the toughest course I’ve ever raced.
These gals brought age, experience. They have a credentials. Running resumes. Running what? …Man was I in deep.
One bio after another. “Olympic Trials Marathon Racer” “National Champion” “NCAA Champion” “Reigning World Champion” “17 minute 5km PR”
The only thing running through my mind? “OH MY WORD!” followed closely by “What was I thinking!?”
But I stepped on the line in my plain jane running shorts and my Jenkins Mtn Scramble t-shirt surrounded by what appeared to be 24 genetic freaks in race singlets with sponsors plastered across their chests. Breathe Breathe Breathe. Don’t freak out.
Then they said go. and I went with them. At least I tried to. We came through the first mile in something like 6:40 going uphill. As we hit the first down hill I dropped back. It was clear my legs aren’t used to turning it over like this girls.
I spent much of the race going back in fourth with Maria, the next youngest in the field at 24 and one of the few other girls not from the West. We chatted a little bit at one point when we were breathing well enough that we were both coherent. Cheered each other on. Joked about age. Made comments like “This is the tough part right?” and “Where are we?” “Um going up!” We found icecream to be a strong motivation as Maria yelled out, “Maria is getting icecream tonight!”
We kept pumping our arms. We kept trying to move forward. Up the hill. One foot. Two feet. I had goose bumps shortly after passing through mile number two. The final kilometer rocked us with it’s 40% grade (yep 700 whole feet of vertical). I choked on a water feed. Got my butt kicked by a woman twice my age. Had to do everything in my power to not eat the incredible wild strawberries as I made my way slowly up Upper Walking Boss. And finally, just as I promised myself, I got to the finish and sat down.
As I sat there somehow managing to drink the water someone had handed to me (though I have no recolection of actually ever being handed the initial cup) Maria came over and gave me a high five, we had made it, “Twenty more years Corrine, twenty more!”
These women are tough. As for me? I’m hooked.
Pretty certain one of the next things I said was, “I want ice cream. And then I want to run it again.”