Sunday, September 9, 2012

Endure the Bear 15K Race Recap

I did my first 15K, the Endure The Bear in Big Bear Lake, on Saturday...and it was hard! Why do I not pick flat races? No, they have to be hard. Which is kinda fun. If it ain't hard, why bother? ;)

It was kind of a last minute addition to my race schedule. Joshua (@bayou) was doing the 50K and he mentioned that there was the shorter 15K that would fit my planned 10 mile run for the day. So of course, I signed up! As an added bonus, it totally fit my Year of Animal Racing. Bam!

I was feeling really, really...really good going into it so I planned to run it as hard as I could. I didn't taper but I wanted to go all out and hurt! I wanted to see if I could really push myself. I put it out there on Twitter and told some of my friends so I would have accountability about it. I felt like I could do a good run there. I thought I could even do it in maybe 1:30. But I didn't have the whole picture of the race course. The race website had this to say about the race:
The 15, 30 and 50k courses will cover some exciting and technical terrain.  Bring your sturdy shoes and be prepared for some climbing.
The course map was a topo map and I can never tell what's a hill and what's not (I haven't decided whether or not this is a good thing yet). So I figured there would be hills but I was totally clueless! The biggest lecture I gave myself about the race was that I was going to be aggressive on the downhills. No being timid. Not this time!

So bring it on!

Big Bear is about 50 miles from my house with the last half being a drive up the mountain. I never go up there because I hate the drive but it wasn't so bad on race morning. Probably because I left so early and no other insane, I mean, runners were out yet. ;)

I got there about 6 am so I could meet Joshua before the start of his race. The plan was to see him off for the 50K at 7 am and then eat breakfast and get ready for my race at 9. Before he started, we took some pictures. I took one of him in front of the Conquer the Bear sign and then he took a picture of me with the sign on my side:

Then I looked at the sign and saw it said Conquer the Cub instead and burst out laughing...which is of course when he took the pic (photo by Josh) ! So much for looking like a bada$$ trail runner! ;) Then it was time for the 50K start and he was off and running!

After that I ate, watched the 30K start, and then got my bib/chip and race shirt:

Pretty cool, huh? Then I did a mile warm up and it was time to race!

So...remember how I said I thought there would be hills? That was a little bit of an understatement. At the start, you faced the uphill straight away. This is the course map for the 50K:

The water station in the black circle is the turnaround point for the 15K. So we run up 8K and then run down the last 7K of the 50K course. This is the elevation profile of the 50K:

So we shared the first 8K and the last 7K of this profile! And we started at about 7000ft! 


Yeah, let me tell you, I was gasping for breath for the first 3 miles or so. I'm not sure how much the altitude affected me but I gave it all I could and was breathing hard for all of it. I tried to run as much as I could but walked some of the steeper sections. 

Did I mention it was hard?

My only goal was to keep moving and to keep myself at the edge and I did that. The only time I stopped was to grab a cup of coke at one of the aid stations. Other than that, I was moving and trying to not let anyone pass me. But about 4 men and 2 women did pass me. I caught both women before the top though and a couple of men on the way down. 

After we hit the top of that huge climb (around 43 or 44 minutes for me), it was such a relief to run downhill. I ran hard. We'd have a few little uphills on the way down but I think I did ok with my plan to be aggressive. In fact, I was running so hard down hill at one point that I almost lost control...right in front of the course photographer! But luckily, I didn't eat it. :) There was only a tiny bit of single track and the rest was fire road so that made it easier to run hard. You just had to watch for rocks and roots. 

The only problem I had was that I think I needed a few more calories or maybe some salt. My legs did get a little noodley in the last couple of miles. And the last mile and a half, both calves kept trying to cramp! I did slow down a little because of that but not too much. As soon as I felt like the possible cramping had passed, I'd run hard again. 

Towards the end, one of the women I'd passed earlier passed me. She was looking good and I couldn't catch her back. But then in the last mile, a man passed me and I was like "oh, no you don't" and I caught him and passed him back! So there!

So I finished in 1:50:49. 20 minutes off my goal. :( My garmin did say I'd run 9.86 miles though. And there was more climbing than I expected so I was a little disappointed but felt like I'd done all I could. I was so wiped at the finish that when the guy asked me to give him my foot to take the chip off, I just stood there. He's like "I need your foot" and I said "I'm trying but both calves are cramping!" But he finally got the chip and I got my medal:
It's not big but it's cool! :)

After I finished, I grabbed water and some banana and orange to see if that would help with the cramping. It didn't. So I went back to my car and cleaned up a little then went shopping for a bit to keep moving. Finally, I went back to the race to see if the results were posted. They were and when I looked for my name, I saw this:

I was shocked! 2nd in my age group. Wow. I actually took this photo about 11:20 but didn't post it on Twitter because I was thinking maybe it was a mistake. Or it wasn't real. I figured I better wait til the award ceremony to make sure. ;)

The awards for the 15K were going to be handed out at 12 so I stuck around to wait for them. I should have gotten something to eat because I was beginning to fade but instead watched the 5K awards and racers come in for all the distances. Finally, it was time for our awards and I held my breath until...
"And second in the Female 40-49 is Lisa Gonzales."
Woo! So I went up on stage and I got my 2nd place medal for F40-49! What a trip!

THEN I could post it on Twitter! :) I'm a nut, I know. But you never know! So when I checked the final results today, I was 2/7 in my age group, 10/33 Women, and 36/82 Overall! 

Finally, I could go get something to eat and I chose the restaurant next to the race venue so I could wait for Josh to come in. When I walked into the restaurant, I heard someone say my name and it was Josh's wife. So I got to meet his wife and their two totally adorable kids and have lunch with them! Then we waited for Josh to come in (entertained by the kids) and it was so fun to see how excited his kids were to see him and to watch him run cross the finish with them! Too cute! He did awesome, by the way! Here's a pic of both of us after he finished:

Run It Fast represented in Big Bear! Woo! (thanks for the photo Josh!)

They went back to the restaurant so Josh could eat and I decided to head back down the mountain because I was wiped and starting to get a headache. :( I guess the altitude affected me more than I thought. Or I ran harder than I thought. Or both. 

But for sure yesterday was amazing and fun! The course was beautiful! Although I didn't see as much as I would like on the downhill because I was trying not to fall. The course was challenging with some brutal climbing but it was fun. I loved running downhill! I want to do it again next year! Only I'll train more for the altitude and the steep climbs! And Conquer the Bear! :)

So that's first 15K. It will be hard to top this one at the next one!

I love racing! :)


  1. You continue to impress us with all your running! There is NO stopping you! Congrats on taking 2nd place that is so, so awesome! Way to leave it all out there on the course!

    1. Thanks guys, as always, for your support and fun comments! :)

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