Peer pressure. That’s how I got wrapped up in a crazy ass snowshoe race in Pittsfield, Vermont yesterday- The Peak Snowshoe Challenge. I have this amazing little sprite of a badass friend who posted a link and a “Ok. Who else of you crazies is in?!” on Facebook. (I should also add she’s an Ultra Runner and blogger. She’s also fabulous. But I digress…) You know how that goes. Race Peer Pressure. Thats all it takes. The mighty power of suggestion. Who’s in!? Suddenly I’m all “Dude! I’m in!!!” Suddenly, I’ve registered for a half-marathon on snowshoes in Vermont. Suddenly, I have a knot in my stomach with “Who the hell do I think I am?” written all over it.
How many times have I raced in snowshoes? 0.00.
How many times have I actually been on snowshoes? 1.0.
Insane, yet ambitious.
The dust settles and I realize that the 10k “Fun Run” is more “appropriate” pre-Big Sur Marathon. Nothing like a novel adventure to blow out a knee or twist an ankle. (Be smart Colby. It doesn’t mean you’re a wuss.) I come to my senses, and downgrade. I still haven’t read a lick about the course, but, I’m in! And that’s all that matters.
I learn on the drive up that I am running 1 loop (whatever that means). Ok. Cool. How bad can that be? No sweat. The 1 loop is 6.5 miles in the Green Mountains of Vermont. On snowshoes. And has 1200′ vertical. That’s the “Fun Run.” There’s also a Half- Marathon (2 loops), a Full Marathon (4 loops) and an Ultra (Fruit Loops) which had a 36 hour cut off. (Yes. They started the day before.) I learn Peak Races sponsors a “Death Race”. I want to turn around. (Nope. No. Way. I’m in!!!)
Off we go to the start. Me, My Fabulous Ultra Running Friend and
her my new friend Another Ultra Runner. (Christ. This joint is crawling with Crazies.) Coffee, power bar, register, strap in. It’s snowing. It’s beautiful. It’s a big stinking mountain. I declare that I have zero expectations. I just don’t want to finish last. Or get hurt. And then I hear it.
While I have no aversion to giggling girls or tutus (I am/have both), I’m not a fan of them this particular morning. I lock eyes with my friend. She reads my mind: You are beating the Giggling Girls. It went from “Fun Run” to “Bitch, Game On!” with a single giggle. Now I’m really ready. My friends are off-and taking no prisoners- on their half-marathon adventure! (Double checking prior that they weren’t registered for the full marathon. See? Peer Pressure will getcha.) I’m off next. There’s a slew of people. Giggling Girls are within earshot. 3-2-1. Go!
In all of my life I have never done anything as difficult as this. I wonder if my Ultra Friends think the same. (Answer: They do. Phew!) Climb? A Sherpa would have cringed. Almost all-fours steep. For miles. Single track. Switchbacks. Wicked technical. And up, up, I go. Running as much as I possibly can. I was The Telltale Heart. TILT! Redlining. I will not stop moving. Finally it “levels” rolling along through the “Labyrinth”, an absolutely beautiful section through the pines, winding back and forth. It’s shady, like a place you would play hide and seek in when you were little. Quiet and peaceful, I feel alive. I am having fun. I am running. Huge, huge smile.
What goes up must come down. Yeah, you got it Newton. Steep. Downhill. Trees. Off-camber. I am at times completely out of control. Borderline avalanche material. Running downhill, navigating trees and switchbacks on snowshoes. I let out a Whoop! Laughing at how ridiculously exhilarating this is. My quads don’t think so. They’re giving me the finger. Neither do my bloody ankles which have been shredded from the narrow single track. Ouch. Tears in my eyes. It’s just a flesh wound. I’m almost done! So what I’ve run into a tree? I didn’t fall. Or stop. Mission almost accomplished. I listen for The Giggling Girls…
I finish 3rd in my age group (!!!) Proud. Happy. Exhilarated. Thrilled that I succumbed to Race Peer Pressure and tried something completely
ridiculous new. This year is all about getting uncomfortable- pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Only then can you change. Evolve even. Oh I’m uncomfortable all right. And am lovin’ every damn minute of it.
Next year I’ll have another Big Old Cup of Crazy please. With a side of Half-Marathon.