Although the holidays are over, I am still posting special blog posts chronicling 12 of my favorite running races from 2012 and the somewhat funny lessons, or gifts you could say, that came from them (well…they’re funny now; at the time not so much). After all, the new year is ahead ready to take new challenges on.
On the 6th Day of Running, Racing Gave to Me: 6th place that I thought was 1st (or why it’s a good idea to read all that fine print on race websites).
Do you like doing short weekend races but get annoyed by how large some of these races are getting? Do you want a race where you can find parking, get your racing packet, and be ready at the starting line by getting there only 10-15 minutes early?
Then you should try the Tiblow Trot in Bonner Springs, KS, in August. The 5-mile Tiblow Trot is part of Bonner’s summer festival called Tiblow Days, named after a guy named Tiblow who was kind of a big deal b/c of something very important he did for the town (I’m a little fuzzy on the history, but there’s another reason why you should do this race – so you can find out officially why it’s called Tiblow Days).
The Tiblow Trot has around 150 runners or so with all age groups being fairly well represented. You can easily park anywhere on the streets, and it’s easy to find the start because the rest of the fair rides and food booths are set up and very visible. We didn’t stay to enjoy the festival, but this year I definitely would like to. It’s part of the appeal of traveling to Bonner for a race.
For just $20, you get a well-designed colorful shirt (they change the color scheme each year) and a race packet full of coupons and running offers, many of which you can use at Bonner that day. You also got a raffle ticket – there was a nice variety of prizes including gift cards, goods, and services. The course is the best part though:
The course is, as you’ve probably guessed based on my running nickname and past entries, HILLY. It’s kind of a bitch, actually, and that’s coming from the girl who loves hills. There’s a nice sized hill after mile 1, then right in the middle of the race is another long sloping hill, you finally turn the corner after a few minutes only to find the apex of the hill is another quarter mile or so upwards. Mile 4 has another couple of short, quick hills and then the last mile is mostly downhill with an awesome finish including sprinklers.
The day started out very humid – it was practically misting the whole time. It felt like running in a steam room – it was so gross. This was also the first time I’d run a middle distance mileage in a few months. The heat was so brutal in KS last summer. I will brave weather to avoid the indoor boredom of the treadmill (although the Woodway and I have an understanding now), but the heat was just too much. I had also recently discovered racquetball. Racquetball is a sport played indoors with AIR CONDITIONING. It wasn’t hard to figure out what I spent most of my summer doing.
So the Tiblow Trot was supposed to be the kick-off to our intense fall racing schedule, plus my best friend Sally who works in Bonner had told me about the giant hill in the race. She talked about how hard it was. As Hill Master who had conquered a mountain in the spring, I laughed on the inside. No hill is too hard for the Hill Master!
Ha ha ha. I was dying that race. Combo of humidity and pretending to be a racquetball player all summer plus the hills just kicked my butt. I was really slow going up those hills. My legs were also really tight and sore from loading up the leg press the day before (a lesson I can’t seem to resist learning over and over the hard way). A couple of girls ahead of me started walking up the big hill, and for a moment I really did think, maybe I’ll stop for just a bit. But I couldn’t. My hill pride wouldn’t let me so with legs muscles tighter than leather pants on Michael Jackson and sucking in air like I had my head in a plastic bag, I finally made it up the big hill and was able to finish the last half of the race more or less alive.
The downhill finish complete with a cooling sprinkler system couldn’t have been more welcome. Jason and I also had finished fairly early in the race, so we were able to get a mini-leg massage free without waiting in the usual long line. Because we noticed a lot of people were still behind us, we began to wonder if maybe we’d placed. I was especially excited because I was sure that most people that were already done with the race looked a lot younger than me. Maybe all that suffering and not walking had paid off!
And then they announced the awards, which are really nice plaques. “Third place for the female 29 and under group is…”
Wait. 29…AND UNDER? Really? There is a big difference between a 16-year-old runner and a 25-year-old. I wouldn’t have cared so much except the next age group was 30-39, then 40-49 and so on. So besides assuming everyone under 30 are on somewhat equal competitive ground, the rest of the runners had a much smaller pool of people to compete against. It seemed really weird. But then I won a DQ gift card in the raffle and realized that was much better than a plaque because plaques aren’t made with cookie dough.
Later when viewing the results, I saw the 29 and under age group listed in the awards part of the race page. Oops. Way to use that English degree. LOL. It wasn’t a big deal though. I was glad to have survived and was excited to do well since I’d felt like crap the whole race and the course and weather were brutal – 6th place in my giant age group. Races like that where strength is more advantageous than just speed alone are my favorite. I like the challenge and sense of accomplishment. It’s a very well run race, and I like the more intimate feel of the smaller races and towns. That’s why I fell in love with the Leavenworth races. Enjoy the next entry which will be about the Red-Nosed Rudolph Run that’s “7.2 Tuff Miles,” held at a local brewery complete with pasta and beer afterwards and a very valuable lesson about the benefits of NOT eating bacon for breakfast.