For my birthday, I went up to visit my girl Amber in Atlanta. And for the record SHE is the one who signed us up for the Yeti run. I didn’t say anything about wanting to sign up for one, or that I wanted to do a race at all to be honest. But when she spotted the race, she knew that I would geek out a little bit to do it, and she sent me the information, then signed us up.
Hardest. Run. Ever.
You guys know me. You know that I do races with costumes and tutus, so of course we dressed up for this race. We used the tutus we wore from the She Runs LA race I did with Amber last year, and I did dark eye make up. Amber felt a bit more ambitious and did the Cheshire cat grin. It came out AWESOME and had we had more time before getting ready, I would have had her do it on me.
When we got to Sweetwater, I realized that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. There were hills. More like mountains. And rocks. And a rip-roaring river. Hmm.
We walked up to the housing area and checked in, signed the waver that said we wouldn’t sue the running company, and collected our packets. No numbers, but we got an awesome shirt and some other freebies.
The guy recognized us instantly when we walked up in our tutus. “You’re our Florida girls, right?!” and I said yes and the guy got excited. He was stoked to have someone from Florida, as well as someone who was in costume, there for the race. I was pretty excited too.
We went and dropped off our stuff into the car, and geared up. Given that the race was at night, we were required to have a head lamp. We were able to get ours at Home Depot for about $15 each, and at first, both Amber and I were thinking that these things were going to be irritating. They kind of hurt our heads to be resting on our foreheads like they were, and we looked stupid. However, it was a night race in the woods, and it was required. I put on my race belt, my head lamp, and the cheap gloves we bought at the dollar store earlier that day. Did we need them? Who knew. But Amber said to wear them, so I did. We walked back up to the group, missing half of the start line instructions, and mentally prepared.
Both Brian and Amber kept telling me that running this race was a stupid idea. I had all intent of running it anyway. We started it running, and Amber kept up pretty well, but then had to stop and walk for a bit. I slowed and walked with her. She kept telling me to go ahead, but unlike the She Runs LA, I was going to do this race WITH HER. So I stopped running, and walked with her.
The first mile of the run was pretty even and normal. Then we hit a down hill slant that almost had us tumbling downward. Then a hill to climb that felt like I would never climb up it. Then mud that was slick and squishy that made me look like I was break dancing. Clearly, my idea of a trail run and what really was a trail run was very, very different.
I ended up walking the entire 10 miler with Amber. I just knew that there was no way I could run this thing like I wanted to run it. I didn’t know the terrain, I didn’t know the route (which was marked only by pink with black polka dot ribbons), and I had only ever been to Sweetwater one time before. Amber and Brian were right, walking it was safer. For me, the girl who has never run a trail run before.
We had to run up and down mountains, through creeks and lots of mud, tall grasses and low cut lawns, on the edge of cliffs and everything. Despite it being cold, dark, and rainy, I had FUN. This was awesome! It was more like hiking for me than running. We had a lot of fun joking around and laughing and being silly.
When we finally finished it, we got lots of cheers even though we were the last ones doing the 10 miler (there was a 20 miler as well) and scored some sweet swag. We were so cold after the race because of the cold temps and the rain, that we changed clothes and spent a lot of time at in front of the fire to warm up, which was so nice! They also had a bunch of snacks and beer for us to relax with.
All in all, a pretty fantastic race, but clearly you need to know what a trail run is and do them often. Because of this race, I’m planning on doing the trails at UNF once a week. I do want to go back to Sweetwater and do a nice hike again with my camera, but this time not for time or in the dark. Or in the rain. 🙂