Saturday, April 19, 2014

Menan Butte Trail Challenge 12k (2014)

Every life lesson comes in the form of running right now.

But, before we get to the lessons, let me tell you about my week.

What a week. I had board meetings for IDVA and the library on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had a city council meeting I was presenting at (I'll tell you about it in another blog post) on Thursday, I had all my usual stuff, some homework for my class I'm taking and work of course.

I know I just blogged about how I like being busy. This was busy for me but not hard to handle. I'm just prefacing that so I can come back to it later.

Friday morning I was a tad cranky after that city council meeting. By a tad, I mean a lot. (Another post for another day.) I went to sleep Thursday in a mood and I work up Friday in more of a mood. But, I had a message from my chiropractor (and someone who, along with his wife, are becoming people Sam and I feel are good buddies) telling me I ought to do the Menan Butte Trail Challenge on Saturday. He suggested I try the 12k. Incidentally, I had just told myself the night before that I was going to take a week off of running because I have the Heart and Sole in exactly 1 week and I am running a 10k. I feel I have the mileage to do it no problem, but I have had trouble adjusting from the treadmill back to the road and it is giving me some shin issues. Plus, I had Bountiful Baskets in the morning around 6:30am so I wasn't sure I could finish and get to the butte in time. Next thing I knew, I was registered to run (Thanks Doc!) and I figured it was meant to be and I could take a week off running... after Saturday.

I got really excited all day. I had this vision of running the trails similar to the ones I "hiked" when I was in Girls Camp as a teen. I figured it would be a little hard, but I could walk here and there and it would be no big whoop. Plus, it is a dormant volcano or something like that (go look it up, I am too tired to be smart) and how many chances do you have to run up/across/down a volcano? I told Sam I would give myself a little extra time and take about 90 minutes.

I am so dumb.

So, I got up this morning and did Bountiful Baskets. I left a bit early so I would be there on time. My mom watched the kids for me (and they dyed eggs which has thrilled the kids).

Here is me on the road. See that mountain in front of me? That is the Menan Butte. No big deal! I was blissfully unaware of how hard it would be and just jamming to some tunes.

Me prererace. Biggest concern was if my playlist was loaded.
Oh, Kimber...
I parked back a ways from the start and got all ready. Sam got me a water thingy to hold and at the last minute I opted to leave it behind. That was a good call because I would have thrown it off a cliff later on.
Here is the super nice (and totally hardcore) race organizer.
I met her the night before and when I told her I had never run a trail run before, she way too casually mentioned that there would be times I would want to walk or climb. I pictured skipping over a brook or something or a little boulder here and there while I trotted down the road.

This was our map for the run.
I was so happy that she had people directing us as I surely would still be out there.

So, we started.
Look, so easy!
I started in the back on purpose so I could pass people over time. I was so clever.
I was thinking, wow, trail running is like a road but with more dirt. I could do this all day.
There is super cocky me, running a slow and steady first mile.

Then we started going uphill. It seemed strange to me that everyone was walking uphill, but, hey, I figured I should follow the crowd for now and start passing early. There were people coming down from the 25k at this point who were running. I was impressed, but not as impressed as I was going to be a bit later.

Now, if you look here, we had to hike all the way up. I did not realize this. I was walking fast and working hard, trying to get ahead of people. I was going and going and going and suddenly I was lightheaded and barely able to move. It had gotten really steep really fast. Steep enough that there was a chain you could hold on to so you didn't fall. It was slick and I was exhausted only a mile and a quarter in. I was trying to hard and it felt like the climb was never ending and I was trying to will myself to go... but my body refused and I stopped.

I sat down right there on a rock and I just breathed.
People were passing me looking concerned and I just didn't care.
I sat there and thought and prayed and tried to decide if I really wanted to take another step or if I could sit there and someone would take me home or if I would have to walk down. Someone passing me said, "you are almost at the top, go a little further," but I didn't. I just sat. Finally, I decided I wanted to just get to the top and then I would decide because the rock was uncomfortable anyhow. So, I got up and I climbed the rest of the agonizing way up.

That person was right. I was almost there.

Lesson 1: It feels hardest when we are nearly to the top.

I got up there and drank some water, chatted with the photographer and asked how the rest of the run was. I knew I was not doing any more if it was that bad the entire way. She assured me it was all "easy" from there on out and I would be fine. I said, "easy? Really?" and she said (oh so casually), "Well, it's all relative."

It's all relative. We'll come back to that.

So, I "took off".

I started walking downhill, grateful for the ease. Then it got less easy and more of a steep and slippery downhill. I ran as carefully as I could so I would save my knees.

We hit a "gentle rolling hill" section and let me tell you, that is not so much gentle as jarring.
But, I kept going, feeling clear headed again and wanting to see what I could see.

This is as close to a smile as I could do right then. I was pooped!

I got higher and higher and this is what I saw along the way.
It was pretty amazing to see all of that.

Every so often, someone would run right past me. I was in awe at how they were actually able to run when I could barely keep myself at a speedy walking pace.

I was starting to doubt my fitness level.

But, I kept going and soon I reached a place where I had to climb up the rocks.
I did and I found some ladies resting at the top. They offered to take my picture.
We were a little halfway done and I was feeling proud, so I decided I needed a triumphant pose.
I now see this is less majestic and more "cheerleader at the top of the pyramid".
My bad.

Another show from where I was. I drive those roads. Wow.

I watched this guy climb up this next set while everyone else was skidding around the side. What they were doing looked so hard. So, I followed this guy. and it was a challenging, but fun climb up. When I got up there I thanked him for climbing up because it showed me how to do it and he said, "everyone was just following each other on that hard path when we could all go this way and it is the same distance." Plus, the view was amazing.

Lesson 2: Following the crowd doesn't always mean it will be easier and you may miss out on something wonderful if you do. Don't be afraid to be different.

More shots of the view.
I was getting tired, but having fun. I think I was about 5 miles in now.

This "unicorns united" artwork gave me the extra push I needed to start running harder whenever the terrain allowed me to. Unicorn power!

This was the last turnaround.

This is a point that got really fun. I was running as much as I could and people were passing me. But, no one was pointing and laughing because I was slow. No, I was getting thumbs up and encouragement. It helped me and made me go faster. I started doing it when I was passing by other people too and that made me even more energized. It felt awesome to be supporting everyone out there and feeling like I was being supported too, even though we were really all running our own race at that point.

Lesson 3: Be positive. Encourage everyone you see and focus on the encouragement they give you.

I didn't get shots of the last hard trail area because I was too busy trying find my way. That alone was a challenge. I was climbing along a bit of a cliff and trying to find my way. Finally I had to just look down and follow the footprints of people who had already run through. Whenever I got off their trail, I would just backtrack until I found them again. It was hard and it slowed me down, but I didn't get lost.
Lesson 3: When we can't find the way, we need to look for the "footprints" of those who have come before us and trust that they know the way. 
Finally, back to the beginning. The place where I nearly quit.
I knew it would be downhill, but still hard.
This time, I walked down it slowly and carefully. I didn't care who passed me, I just wanted to get down. My legs were shaking, they were so tired. I hit the very last straight and somewhat flat area and I loped on to the end. I did it. Yes, I didn't do it fast, but I did it.

Most important lesson to me: It is all relative. When we compare how we are doing to others, we short ourselves. Some people sprinted through that run. Some walked. I ran, walked, climbed and crawled and even sat. It was mildly challenging to crazy hard, depending on the person. It is all relative.

I go back and look at the business of my week. That stuff isn't hard for me. It's all relative. That may challenge others, but no big for me. Doesn't make me special, just makes that my strength. We all have them. We all have weaknesses too. We can't compare, we just need to keep going. watch and learn from others and focus on encouragement both for ourselves and for others.

I'm pretty grateful to Dr. Bench here for getting me to do this. It was very rewarding, just like he told me it would be.
Oh, and all of you should go see him, he has powers. Phone number on the sign, call it.

Oh, and I have to have this pic. Look, I'm taking Bountiful Basket calls while I run! I may be slow, but I can still multitask.

I stopped and took this pic at the spot where I sat down at the beginning. Made me happy.

Here are my feet after that run.

Here is my distance and time. I guess I went a bit over the mileage, but I don't care.

Today was a great day!


  1. You. Rock. Hard. That Butte trail is hard!

  2. thanks for sharing this. I ran the menan butte with you this weekend -- I remember you and you were fantastic! thanks for taking pictures and sharing your experiences. It was all I could do just to run!