Double Day

Sometimes I get these crazy ideas, and I depend on the sane people around me to talk me out of it. My most recent crazy idea was to do two races in the same day, and no one shook their head or made my think it was anything but brilliant.

Earlier this week I found out that the two races I was going to do this weekend, a Cross on The Rock cyclocross race and the Gunner Shaw cross-country classic, were actually on the same day and not consecutive days. The cross race was Saturday morning, the run was Saturday afternoon, and as luck would have it - the two venues were about a 10-minute drive apart. Perfect, I could fit both in!

Yesterday it was literally freezing out. I emphasize that, because here in the PNW we are not used to ice and cold and are therefore weather pansies. Not as pansy-ish as Floridians or SoCalians (did I just make that word up?), but we are the northern equivalent. (FYI I'm not insulting FL or CA dwellers, I'm just jealous of their weather and that's how I deal with those emotions). So the fact that the ground was frozen when I arrived for my warmup at the cross race sucked. One woman found this out the hard way when she chose to ride over a frozen puddle just out of the start line and crashed and slid down the road a ways. Most of the course was over a motocross track, and it alternated between frozen bumpy bounce-you-around ruts, or soupy, thick, stop-you-in-your-tracks mud. I was definitely glad to have some mountain bike skills, as the downhills I just held on and let my bike go where it wanted. Luckily it never wanted me to hit the ground, thanks bike!

Cross start line.

Yep, the motocross track was muddy!

After the cross race, I cleaned up as best as I could, changed, and headed to the run race with about 30 minutes to spare until the start. Well, the parking lot was full, the overflow was full, so I had to head down the road to park about a 10-minute walk away. That meant I had to leave all my warmup clothes in the car and head to the start, which also meant I only had about 20 minutes to wait until the race began. Pretty good because at this point it was only a few degrees above freezing, so the less standing around waiting the better.

The race started and it didn't take long for me to feel the fatigue from ripping around the cross race at a high intensity. I knew by the first hill that this wasn't going to be a PR day, or even an "I ran well day". But I was in it and figured I'd just enjoy it. If anyone enjoys the Gunner Shaw that is - tough steep climbs, descents, rooty, rocky, muddy... and did I mention the swamps? Twice we ran through knee-deep disgusting swamp water that you could smell before you could see. Ah, cross-country running! The swamp was ice-cold and I couldn't feel my feet when I emerged - they were basically blocks of ice. The first swamp came out on a ridge that was frozen and icy, and I had to walk because with frozen feet, I couldn't feel if I actually had any traction and didn't want to fall. It took several minutes before I had any feeling, but of course there was a steep uphill that helped warm them up.

I am not a good trail runner (I don't pick my feet up very high, so navigating rocks, roots, etc takes concentration when I run the trails), but I love being out in the woods. I made my way through the course the best I could for the day, knowing my choice of racing on the bike earlier that day wasn't the best idea for a solid run, but it was the best idea for solid fun! The last kilometer of the 10k race includes three hills (like there weren't enough hills in the rest of the race) that are named: Little Gunner, Big Gunner and Big Bugger. I was happy to running down the other side of Big Bugger and to the finish, but then when you get to the finish line... well, you finish running knee-deep into a lake. Have I mentioned yet how cold it was yesterday?

Legs all cleaned up - did I mention the run
finish was in a icy cold lake?

I stuck around at the finish to get some hot chocolate, chat with superstar Melanie McQuaid (who won the women's race of course), and see if I got any draw prizes (I didn't). Standing around in the cold, in my running clothes (remember, my car was not actually in the parking lot) was a dumb idea because I was frozen solid. I headed back to the cross venue just in time for their draw prizes (didn't get any of those either). Come on - two races in one day and no draw prizes! At least they had a bonfire going, but it still didn't quite warm me up inside. Thankfully my car has heated seats, so I blasted the heat and finally warmed up for the drive home.

Guess I should have ridden my bike through the lake to clean it up too...

Thanks everyone who didn't talk me out of this crazy idea - my legs are pretty sore today but I sure did have fun!

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