So as the race day grew near, I thought more and more about how I really wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. Everyone I told about it was like, "Really, your going to run THAT race?". But I was banking on the fact that Alaskans love to exaggerate and that it probably wouldn't be that bad.
The night before the race I had to go to a mandatory race safety meeting. Brian, my mom and Angie joined me for the meeting which consisted of a graphic video of every injury that has ever occured in the race set to music. Mom and Angie were not thrilled. All of the scree face plants, rocks falling down on peoples heads, people falling off cliffs, etc. Hmm.. maybe they weren't exaggerating so much?
Race day came and as soon as the gun went off the nerves were gone. We ran 1/2 mile through the town of Seward to the base of the mountain. Then the climbing began. The first 50 feet of climbing was the most intense. I was head to butt with the other women in the race, grabbing onto roots and rocks just trying to keep my balance. When I topped off over the cliffs, I knew the most dangerous part was over. The rest was just a long uphill trudge.
There were a ton of people cheering us on along the course, including one guy in a tuxedo, holding a cocktail tray with a vase complete with daisies, and little cups of gatorade. Rounding the top I saw Brian, and my friends Larah and Rocco, who had hiked up earlier that morning so they could wait for me at the top. I was feeling good and I knew I had completed the toughest part. Although, Brian tried to hand me a cliff bar and I thought I might yak! They told me that I had been racing for an hour and twenty minutes so I was ahead of my goal. I wanted to finish in under 2 hours and I knew I could run down in 35.
After I rounded the top and started down a shooting pain went up my Achilles tendon. Uh-oh! The pain went away quickly as the fun part began. Down the scree field, into the chute, climbing down a series of waterfalls, under a snow bridge and through the woods (where I fell about 6 times in the mud), and out to the screaming crowd at the bottom. As soon as I stepped onto the pavement to make the 1/2 mile trek back to the finish line, my calves started cramping. Then I heard the crowd and sped up and adjusted my "stride" so that I didn't have to use my calf muscles much.
I finished in 1:55 just under my goal; dirty but not bleeding! This was the most fun and the toughest race I have ever competed in, but it turns out if you are careful, you won't get hit by a rock or fall off a cliff. Now that I've completed it, I can race it every year without having to enter the lottery!
Click on the photo to see some pictures that my mom, angie and Brian took along the course...