Most Challenging Race Ever

Most Challenging Race Ever

I just completed the most challenging and coldest yet extremely gratifying race ever. The Summit Rock Half Marathon was 13.1 miles of trails through scenic Santa Cruz Mountains at the Sanborn County Park in Saratoga, CA. The course was mostly uphill though what goes up, must come down. My knees are shot and the arches of my feet hurt. This was my first trail run and my brother’s first half marathon. I made the mistake of signing Jasper up for this race when I probably should have started him on an easier course. I’m proud of Jasper for completing his first and he only gave me a little bit of a hard time for picking this tough race. We had many bonding moments while we trained together and encouraged one another.

Given that it was a trail run, I didn’t set out to break any records but I did want to complete the race in 3 hours and within the 15 minute handicap of my brother. I went out strong staying with the group past mile 1 along the narrow path with the edge of the world on my right. Then I started to see my brother go up the summit ahead of me, and I caught glimpses of him in between the brush and poof, he was gone. Running and hiking up the ridge on the first mile, I knew I was in for some $h1# and had to admit I didn’t train properly. Interval training wasn’t what I should have done as there is just no way to maintain consistent speed since you didn’t know what was ahead. I usually cross-train on the Stairmaster and run three days a week but I was really busy this time around and lazy.

Summit_Rock_Half_After

As we stretched and prepared for the run, the announcer warned us about injuries and said that other than the Dipsea, the Summit Rock run had the most twisted ankles. He was right. You had to avoid tripping over rocks, rolling your ankle on branches and slipping on the leaves. There was supposedly beautiful views but I was concentrating too hard that I missed them. Luckily, it hadn’t rained and the ground was dry, packed dirt. The trail reminded me of going up the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail. They didn’t have handrails and you could literally fall off the edge of the Earth so if you are or might be scared of heights, don’t do this race. It is pretty out there in the forest with the big trees and just being out in nature. The inclines are no joke though.

Close to mile 6, I got a second wind and was so excited to catch up to my brother. We ran together for a little bit but then he took off. I never got a third wind and I tried my hardest to pick up speed but I was cold the entire run so my muscles just wouldn’t loosen up. It was freezing out there even though I was wearing long leggings, a thin running jacket over my thumb-holed long sleeved dri-fit shirt and hat. I love the thumb holed shirts because it comes in really handy for wiping sweat and snot off my nose.

Going downhill on the loop back sucked. My knees were giving out and I rounded a corner too fast and slipped. I caught myself with my hands as I almost went over the edge and I didn’t look down because I would have freaked myself out. A runner helped me up and I just kept running, brushing that scary moment out of my mind. Then the inevitable moment came at mile 10 where I always start to hurt and lose steam. I told myself, I just had 3 miles to go, which is a short typical run and I could do it! At 12.5 miles, I must have looked like crap because a volunteer stopped clapping and cheering to ask if I was OK and if I was sure I was going to be able to finish. I thought, “M-fer, I’m OK! I need encouragement here! Yes, I’m going to f’in finish so yes, I’m OK, damn it!” I wished I could have sped up and ran as fast as I could but I was dragging ass and it was the fastest I could go. hahaha…

Summit_Rock_Brazen

The Summit Rock Half Marathon was put on by Brazen Racing and it was an extremely well organized race. You can find your bib number on displays and get your bib and shirt the day of, versus having it mailed to save money. There were clean port-a-potties and even flushing toilets at the park. Brazen sent many short, concise and informative emails to keep us abreast of the race details. Their race volunteers were very friendly and helpful and they kept the refreshments well-stocked. We were very impressed with the snacks at the water station and after the race. They had fresh cut fruit, yogurt, ice cream (even It’s It!), pie, chips, crackers, popcorn and more at the expo at the end. They even offered coffee and hot chocolate in the morning. It was a small group of racers so it appears Brazen likes to limit the number of people which is great for the runners.

Summit_Rock_After_Snacks

My Star Wars themed medal and shirt are awesome. Many racers dressed the part too with Darth Vader masks, costumes or full-on onesies. “May the forest be with you” was on a few shirts and that was cute. I am so happy I was able to finish this challenging 13.1 mile race. I didn’t reach my goal of running it in 3 hours but I was within the 15 minute handicap of my brother. My time for the Summit Rock Half was 3:02:17 and my personal record is 2:02:20. 2 minutes and 20 seconds is apparently the bane of my existence. I’m determined to break the 2 hour half marathon mark and maybe, just maybe, I’ll try again to run the Summit Rock Half Marathon under 3!

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