Nobody cares if you're not a good dancer. Just get up and dance. The same holds true for racing. Whether first or last, we all cross that same finish line. Just get out there and run.
- Dean Karnazes

Thursday, November 3, 2011

North Face Endurance Challenge Atlanta 5K Race Report

This was my very first trail race, and when I set out to Pine Mountain, GA that morning, I was nervous.  I had done a few short run at a local hiking trail, but I knew this race would be different. I got to Callaway Gardens to park and catch the shuttle over to F.D. Roosevelt State Park at some ridiculously early time that morning, and ended up on a bit of a wild goose chase to find the correct parking lot. It wasn't such a big deal for me because the 5K people were the last to go, but I felt bad for the half marathoners and 10Kers that were in the same situation. I got the right lot, jumped on the very luxurious yellow limousine (aka the school bus), and enjoyed the heated bus and quiet ride to the start/finish area. Guess what I realized as soon as the bus started moving, I realized that I left my Garmin in my car sitting on the passenger seat... way to go superstar. As I got off the bus, and I was approached by none other than runblondie26 (if you have a minute, check out her blog, she's AWESOME), mind you, we'd never met each other before she recognized me from twitter. I'm sure that's what all the big celebs feel like, I am sure that the sneaky paparazzi was hiding in the bushes just waiting to take our pictures too.

While, I was waiting for my race to go, I decided that I just HAD to take my picture in front of the North Face Challenge logo thing. Well, this would prove to be a mistake because it would cause the one and only injury from the day. After the picture below was taken, I managed to smash my shin into the stage and it left a sizable bruise, and it bruised my pride a little too. 

While waiting, I also got to see a friend of mine (who also happens to be a Zumba instructor) and hung out with her and her friends before the start. Most of them were doing the 10K, so I got to see them start and cheer them on. Guess who happened to be there to give each wave of races a pep talk? None other than the Ultra Marathon Man, Dean Karnazes. 

You can almost spot him, he's in the blue shirt with the white visor.
After Dean's pep talk, we were off. Right after we started, I started to freak out just a little because I didn't have the garmin on. It turns out that not having the garmin was probably for the best because I am pretty sure that I would have cried if I had seen the pace and the distance. I am pretty sure that at least the first half mile was all uphill, it was deceiving too because just as soon as I thought that it would start leveling out and/or start descending, it didn't, we just kept climbing. It was so steep that there was no way that I could even run up it, trust me, I tried. The course had been marked 4 out of 5 in difficulty and technicality, and they weren't lying. The other thing that I had to keep track of was the actual course, it was marked out with purple ribbon for the 5K. So, there was one point where I had just gotten caught up in my music and was just going with it, then I realized I wasn't sure if I was still on the right path, I had to take a minute to gather myself and look for the markers. Then, I realized I had quite the difficult path ahead, check out the pictures.
These were the markers, the purple was in there somewhere.
Found the markers again and on my way again... score!

Had to get around this...
Not sure if you can get a sense of how narrow this was and how severe the drop off is.

I kept on, and then I heard it, it was the DJ at the start/finish, and it was such a sweet sound. Little did I know when I heard the music, that it was going to be a bit of a tease because I still had a little bit further to go. I saw that I was getting close to the road, and then I got to cross the road and the finish line was right there, but it wasn't going to be that easy, instead of the straight shot to the finish, I had to go back into the woods. This was quite possibly the toughest race I've ever run, yup, you read that right. Mentally, I was doing wonderfully; physically, this race was demanding. Am I stupid enough to do this race again next year? Yes, yes, I am.

So, guess who I got to meet after the race?! Dean Karnazes! This would normally been super awesome except for the fact that I got a little star struck and acted like a dork when I actually met him. At least, I got my picture taken with him.


Fruit Fly said...

So cool!! It sounds hard - I mean 4 out of 5? That's bad ass! But it also sounds like a ton of fun. Plus meeting celeb runners is always exciting and motivating. Love your photos - even at the expense of your shin.

Congrats on trail race #1!

The Unexpected Runner said...

Congrats! I've done a couple casual trail runs with a local running group but not a looks super fun!

I get tongue tied too...the picture is fantastic though :)

The Accidental Runner said...

Oh my gosh I am so jealous!!! Meeting Dean K. would be so amazing! The picture looks fantastic :)

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