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Post by Bekah Rottenberg
What better way to celebrate the birthday of two good friends than by punishing yourself (and your friends) with a 15 mile trail run in the Sierras? I certainly couldn’t think of a better plan, so a crew of my friends headed to the Yuba River for camping, biking, swimming, running, and other shenanigans.
The two birthday kids and I awoke at 4:45am Saturday morning, made coffee which we drank out of a bowl because we couldn’t find any mugs, and ate almond butter and jalapeno jam sandwiches for breakfast. The jalapeno jam was my mistake, I had thought it was blackberry, or some other delicious home-made fruit jam, but fortunately it wasn’t too spicy and didn’t cause any disasters later on along the trail.
The run started at 7am when it was chilly and the sun had barely crested over the mountains. There were a modest 180 runners, and the feelings at the start line were cheery and friendly. This was the inaugural event of the Lost Sierra’s Endurance Run, and it felt cool to be part of a first time event. The gun sounded, which was actually one of the volunteers saying in a regular speaking voice, “Ready, Set, GO” and off we went, plodding along the road until we turned onto the Mills Peak trail. We proceeded to climb up for 9 miles, gaining 3,000 ft of elevation in the process. I found the climb to be rather enjoyable as I simply ran at my own pace, occasionally walking the steep sections, and trying not to spend too much time thinking about how much fun I’d be having if I were biking down the trail rather than running up. At one point I kicked a rock and fell over. It was embarrassing because I had just passed an older gentleman, and he gave me a kind, understanding look as I picked myself up, dusted off my legs, and kept going. I eventually reached the top and was thrilled to discover there were only 4 miles remaining, and they were all downhill!
I ran down the dusty trail, letting gravity do as much work as possible while ensuring my knees and ankles stayed strong. I had thought very little about placing in the run, it was more of an event I wanted to participate in, not compete in. But towards the end of the down-hill two chicks came barreling past me and that got my competitive juices flowing. I knew one of the girls was in my category because we had chatted on the climb and I had no idea about the other girl. The trail continued to descend, and I kept the girls in my sight. I was pretty sure I could beat the two women, and while I had initiated the run with no grand plans of placing, I realized I’d be disappointed with myself if I didn’t at least try to pass the pair in front of me. I continued to follow as the trail continued to descend. Finally I heard bells and cheering – the end must be near! The trail crossed a small creek then suddenly started to climb. This was my moment. I always enjoy accelerating into the start of a climb as I hear my freshman year soccer coach in my head yelling at me, “Get up that hill, you hate hills.” I did hate that hill as I quickly moved past the girls, and also quickly started gasping for air. But I pushed on. The hill was long and my legs started to slow down considerably as I reached the top, but that distance was all I needed. I huffed my way to the finish for the win where I was greeted with a margarita snow cone by the founder of Yuba Expeditions. I ended up placing first in my category (women 30 – 39) and 7th for overall women. The after race party included a free lunch, beer from Sierra Nevada, and a band. While it wasn’t biking, the Lost Sierra Endurance Run was an excellent event, and you’ll find me back next year!