Run the Berg Challenge 2016

Two quick blogs before I sit down (again) to study for my (now scheduled) Biostats 3 exam (#FeesMustFall, but not for international post-graduate students). A quick note for all my readers: these blog posts are mostly addressed at my friends and family far, far away. They’re a diary of my experiences here in Africa, and my opinions about odds and sods. And if you don’t understand sarcasm I feel very sorry for you. So very, very sorry. To recap-

rtbtrophy

My trophy, a training rock!

I registered for Run the Berg when it opened for entries on 1 December, 2015. Then I started training. Then I stopped training. Then after Buster Bunny I took some time off to recover and lick my wounds. Then around 15 August I realized that if I didn’t get over my distaste for trail running and start training again, I was going to repeat my experience at Buster Bunny. So I enlisted the help of the Mindful Runner and within an evening I had a 6-week training program that got me ramped-up from maybe two 5km a week to back-to-back 15km in a weekend. With proper training, and an excellent physiotherapist, I completed the weekend (17km on day 1 in 3:08:19, and 14km on day 2 in 2:05:13 = 31km in total) in 5:13:33. My goal was to finish in 5 hours so I’m happy. For comparison, I completed day 1 of Buster Bunny (12km) in 4:53:01, and a lot less happy.

Stray Obs and Sobs

  1. rtbday2sy

    Everyone who ran day 2 has this photo.

    I don’t remember anything about day 1, I was way too anxious. This reminds me of a story about my dad running the Montreal Marathon, but that’s for another time. Suffice it to say, running anything over 12km gives me stomach cramps. And combined with anxiety, it’s a real panic-inducer. Like I said, I don’t remember anything from day 1. Except…

  2. Gu comes in jelly format (for my American readers think gummi bears). Mind=blown. Thanks to the person who gave me two for the trail at the Cavern before we started. She didn’t want to trade for my Gu gels for some reason.
  3. Epsom salts. And yoga.
  4. Day 2 was cooler and great for running. It was fast, lots of down hill. Scenic. Overcast.
  5. I still haven’t been able to use my UD Ultra Jacket, despite threatening weather, and even more threatening race organizers.
  6. Nothing was so hectic that I despaired of ever seeing civilization again. Well-groomed, runnable trails, lots of people. I was never alone, and I realized this was a real “thing” for me coming out of Buster Bunny.
  7. I dislike being called a “runtheberger” because of a Cosby Show episode wherein women are referred to as “burgers”. Different root word (berg=mountain), I know, but as Denise said: “it’s a piece of meat!”
  8. OMG- pain-free! Holy shit I’m tired, but nothing hurts! (Thank you MR and Milyn!)
  9. Everything seems a lot smaller now (see my next blog).
  10. Lots of people commented that I “looked great” on Monday. It was probably dehydration. But still.

rtbd1shyUltimately, and I think this is pretty important and was my take-home feeling, Run the Berg is a real team effort on the part of the organizers and there was a cast of 1000’s. From the teenager who registered me on Friday, to the kid who scanned my barcode at the finish line, to the kid who handed me my trophy rock, I felt this was a family effort. I also really appreciated everyone out on the trail guiding me home: the trail markings (though I honestly don’t remember a lot of it), the marshals giving friendly, reassuring directions, and the snack table staff and random fans waving us on- this couldn’t have been done without a team of extras doing lots of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Thank you! I hate trail running a lot less because of your concerted efforts.

And a final comment on my training rock. My family and friends have used this tool on the Appalachian Trail, it’s a special rock that you put in your pack and train with all year long until it’s time for Run the Berg 2017, then you take it out and, as if by magic, you run faster. So yes, I’m planning on going back to the Berg for another run in 2017 to see if I can improve on my time.

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