Bellingham Trail Half Marathon

IMG_2916-001I ran a half marathon yesterday. Actually, that’s a completely inaccurate and misleading statement. I finished. The means of propulsion were varied and ugly but entirely of my own power. That’s me about 100 feet from the end, which explains the look of bliss on my face.

It was so much harder than I expected. I had trained to run 13 miles and I was fully aware that they would not be smooth or flat miles. I was mentally prepared for a lot of trail running with a few truly brutal sections. In fairness, this was the race description:

13.1 miles with 2,500 feet of  climbing. The Bellingham Half Marathon is really special: it is a point-to-point exploration of Bellingham’s Chuckanut Mountain and Lake Padden.  It begins by running up Fragrance Lake Trail to the notorious Chinscraper (no joke) and along the super technical and scenic Ridge Trail with views of the Cascades, city of Bellingham, and Bellingham Bay. From the ridge, you’ll descend on some sweet single track to the Interurban Trail, hit up a little road on your way to Lake Padden, and finish with fast trails around Lake Padden to a catered post race meal and race festivities!

The “notorious Chinscraper” was more or less what I expected but I managed to overlook the “super technical” Ridge Trail, which I learned in real time meant that it was several miles of steep, rooted, rocky, narrow (did I mention steep) trail of the sort that required a rope to aid you in at least one sheer rock descent.

I went flying and landed on all fours twice during the “sweet single track” section. It took me nearly two hours to get from the first to the second aid station and by the time I got there, I was sure that I had read/remembered the aid station locations wrong. It seemed impossible that I had covered only 8 miles of trail in two and a half hours. But the volunteers confirmed I was indeed 8 miles in and then I started running away and both of my calves started to charley on the first incline. I nearly dissolved into tears.

All of which is a long way to say exactly what I started with: It was hard.

But there’s something about doing a hard thing that makes you able to do more hard things, even when you feel like that’s impossible. And even though right now just sitting feels like a hard thing, I’m happy that I did it.

And really, isn’t that how a whole lot of life goes? You plan and prepare and tell yourself you know how it will be and then you get into the guts and it’s totally different and more terrifying and not at all what you thought. But somehow the preparation that you did and a million things that you thought were completely unrelated come together and you figure it out in real time and you do it. And running a race isn’t the kind of hard thing that really matters at all but somehow I think it’s good to keep in practice for the really hard things in life that do matter.

So there you go. It was ugly and muddy and bloody, but I finished a half marathon yesterday. It was hard.

4 thoughts on “Bellingham Trail Half Marathon

  1. Our congratulations to you for completing the race- correction, hard race! You were so disciplined in training for it, that I never had any doubts you wouldn’t finish it. Very proud of you for running it, pushing yourself to the max and best of all writing about it. Do something wonderfully soothing for yourself now — backrub please.

    1. Thanks, Doris. I wasn’t forward-thinking enough to schedule a massage for this week (next time!), but trust me, there has been/will be lots of resting.

  2. Oh my aching legs. 2,500 feet? You picked a hard one to start with. I am thinking that you probably didn’t have to wear three bras though like I did for my first run post baby. At some point, I hope that you thought of the dusty trail, the people you love, and the awesome calves that you will have. Did you say to yourself quietly at the end, “Unhook the plow?” If you are like me, you will quit running for at least a year after your half marathon. But you are tougher than me, so I bet you are out again sooner than I was. I am proud of you!

    1. How did I not remember “unhook the plow”?! You crack me up. I did have “I’ll Fly Away” (think Alison Krauss version) stuck in my head for the entire race, when I wasn’t concentrating desperately on not breaking an ankle. I think you are very brave for forging into post-baby running. I hope you find the magic combination of boob control so there are no more casualties, and because that kind of extra awfulness is just wrong when you’re doing something as hard as post-baby running.

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