Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chasing Shirts - Godiva Hard Climb Hill Race

The Winter that never was has given rise to the Spring that pretends it is Summer. It's hard to believe that Ryan and I have muddled through enough of the Godiva Winter Series events chasing the "beautiful shirt" to actually earn it, but somehow that's just what we've done. It wasn't easy either. I think I was either very sick, or very tired, or a combination of those two for most of the events, usually due to my own stupidity, but sometimes simply due to plain bad luck. Kids have a habit of bringing home lots of "viral gifts" from public school during the Winter. I think Ryan was either just recovering from or just catching some sort of illness for 3 of the runs, including the final "Hard Climb Hill Race".

Eternal Vernal Infernal Traversal
Hard Climb Hill Race, or as I have misnamed it, Hard Hill Infernal Traversal (H-HIT me with your best shot!), is an interesting event. There are 3 options for running the race: 3 miles, 7 miles, or 10 miles. The 3 mile out and back includes the hard climb, which, trust me, is definitely hard. An additional 4 mile out and back starts at the same spot as the 3 mile run. I didn't attempt the 4 mile section, so I don't know if it's hilly or not, but since nearly everything Godiva runs seems to include giant hills, I can only assume it was chock full of more infernal traversals. Run both sections and you get 7 miles. Feeling brave? Run the "hard climb" 3 mile section again for 10 miles of "fun" in the hills of Duke Forest.

Running to the starting area.
Unusually, Ryan and I arrived late to the race. I hate being late. For anything. Some people don't mind being late, but it really stresses me for some reason. Fortunately, as with all the Godiva events, checkin was quick and easy, so we had our bibs and were running through the forest towards the starting area in no time at all. The slight stress I had felt due to being late simply melted away.

When I originally planned to participate in the Winter Series it was mostly a means for me to add a few fun races to my Winter schedule, and perhaps expose Ryan to some true cross country racing, but in a relaxed atmosphere. Standing in the starting area, I realized that I had actually gotten to know quite a few Godiva people since starting the Winter Series. A very nice bonus.

The out and back nature of the races make this run a very social affair. At some point on the course you pass by everyone in the entire race. I really like this format. Cheering on the "fasties" along the route is just as fun as high-fiving your slower friends at the turn around point. The centralized start/finish location allowed us 3 milers to cheer both the 7 milers and the 10 milers across the finish line, while grazing on a great snack spread (whoever thought of the cinnamon twists and coffee is awesome!). Add in some balmy Spring temperatures and you have a near perfect morning of running. Well, aside from the hellish hills.

The kids were discussing their fartlek strategies.
Or maybe they were just talking about farts, I
couldn't quite hear.
The Race
Ryan and I started out nice and easy and pretty much kept that pace through the entire 3 miles. Ryan had been sick the day before with a fever and wasn't feeling very spunky, so I let him run his own slow pace. Luckily we spent nearly the entire 3 miles running with Shannon and Karen. They were both great with Ryan. I spent most of the time quizzing them on their upcoming 100 mile ultra marathons. I still can't wrap my head around that. 100 miles! Simply amazing!

Approaching the finish of the 3 miler, Ryan finally gave out. He could see the finish, but just didn't have the energy for a sprint. That is, until I goaded him. Then, suddenly he was full of sprinting energy! I think he really enjoyed the small final sprint, mostly because he successfully blocked his old man's passing attempts at the finish line. I took pity on his poor health and let him win, this time.

Honestly, I really am a very slow runner. My left knee is full of hamburger and is held together with fishing twine and gristle. As such, it can only turn over at turtle like cadences. Ryan on the other hand, has the advantage of quickness and extreme youth on his side, which means in a dead sprint he wins every time. Next year, I'm switching tactics to the tried and true "old age and treachery" approach. It's my only hope.

As usual, all of the Godiva folks were great with Ryan, and there were even other kids at this event that he spent some time playing with afterwards. He told me in the car on the way home that he "had a great time!" I can't ask for more than that.

Winter Series Epilogue
Somehow, over the course of the Winter, the series turned into something much more than chasing shirts and having fun. The racing itself faded in importance, overshadowed by the growing bonds of a father and son. The true gifts of the Godiva Winter Series are the priceless memories - both mine, and Ryan's.

Thanks Godiva.