Day Twenty-one: King of the Hill – Mount Woodson
Total mileage: 130.7 (210.3 kilometers)
It was drizzling rain as we got up, coffee and complex carbohydrates were our best defenses. Having not brought a suitable running jacket I opted to run the event wearing an ill-fit jean jacket. I find that I don’t often mind my clothing, as long as I am warm. I was happy with that choice, and especially happy to have gloves on. Though before I would finish, my hands and feet would all go numb.
The rain made the whole prospect of running on dirt just a little too real for my wife who very nearly asked me to stay with her. Running something like this “alone” is intimidating. Even in larger road races, many people want a close friend who is a stronger runner to go with them their first time. Jess and I had talked about how this race was supposed to be scary and unknown, since they don’t fully disclose the route or workout challenges to you in advance. She asked me to stay with her when she saw the course in person but I assured her she could do it, and that we would both have our phones anyway so I could always return to her. Also, that I would personally come back for her soon after I finished to ensure she was alright.
We started at Lake Poway, ran down wide path to the lakeside and turned uphill at the Mount Woodson trail. I walked most of the uphill climb, you gain 2000 feet in about 2.5 miles. As soon as we make it very far up the hill we do 20 lung walks at the first workout station. Then as the gradient steepens, do 10 push ups and 10 tuck jumps. A few feet ahead of that was another sign (an ominous sign if I do say so myself) 9 tuck jumps and 9 push ups. Yes we had to then do 8 more descending sets of each and down to 1. That is a total of 55 push ups and 55 tuck jumps. Soon the trail was narrow and rocks made moving fast a slightly technical process. It was then that I left my wife behind and started to feel more “in the zone.” There was a 20 “shooting star” station wherein you touch your hands to the ground and then jump and clap with arms over your head. It’s like a jumping jack that is harder work.
Towards the top, the switchbacks changed into rolling hills where I started to run more. Wind was fierce and it started to rain more heavily. There were sections of the trail where the wind whipped white fog and sleet sideways like something out of a movie (I didn’t realize it was actually “sleeting” until someone told me later.) The higher I got, the lower the visibility. At this point my Vibram’s were soaked as were my Injinji socks, my feet were totally numb from cold water but I was moving well. My calves were positively dying but I started to see runners who had turned around and I knew I was near the top.
A big paved road appeared suddenly and took me to the top where we did 100 mountain climbers (push up position and bring one knee up to chest, alternate.) Definitely the hardest station, though I shudder to think about what the Badass division did. This division carried 50 pound packs (30 pounds for women) and did more difficult workout options along the way. Going down was great fun, I moved very fast and passed a few people. I really enjoyed scampering over rocks and doing crazy switchbacks about as fast as I could without falling. There were a few moments of somewhat dubious footing. Near the bottom I skated in mud for about a foot while passing someone. It was exhilarating and I managed to keep my foot under me without breaking stride much. I was going about as fast as I could so I was fairly close to out of control, glad I didn’t push it much harder.
My wife did end up calling me to say that she was having a great time and not to worry. Also, she wanted me to get the camera after I finished and film her crossing the line. It is very thrilling to tackle things you are scared of, I’m very proud of us both.