Oh, the beauty of the woods, the trees, the slight dusting of snow, the gurgle of the creeks and streams....the sound of stomping feet, the mud, crossing the gushing creeks, and the swamp. Bear Creek once again outdid itself as an off-road adventure. It snowed pretty much all day Saturday as we drove to the state park and our cozy cabin. Not that it stuck much on the roads, but it did look very pretty and dusted the ground very nicely. Our group this year was 6 racers, 5 dogs, 4 non-racers (one being Wolverine) in 2 cabins. Staying at the cabins and eating/drinking with friends is the real fun of Bear Creek 10 miler...well, the run is fun as well!
We had a fabulous dinner on Saturday, some beers, some puzzling and then an early bedtime. It was cold on Sunday, pretty darn cold, but sunny. We all bundled up and drove to the race start with just enough time to pee one last time. Then with little fanfare, we were off.
The trail was almost immediately slippery and muddy, that should have clued us in as to the conditions when the real trails begin. For the first several stream crossings, I foolishly tried to find ways across to keep my feet dry, making one good crossing decision, but then one bad one which cost me several minutes. I pretty much ran by myself, for the first part, then the gaggle of gals caught up to me as I knew they would. I don't care how many times I run this race, the way out (first 5 miles) always seems to take forever! We finally got the last 2 mile section before the turn-around and were passed by the front runners, who at this point were 4 miles ahead of us...not sure how they run that fast. Tyler was smiling and in 3rd, and told us to enjoy the swamp. We quickly found out what he meant, as the next mile was slogging through some pretty serious mud. I finally gave up on trying to keep my feet dry, when I stepped mid-calf deep into the mud crossing a small creek. At the turn, I took a gu, and set off just a minute or so ahead of Sharon and Lynn, with Jill right behind me. Karen was about 2-2 1/2 miles ahead at this point on the way to a PR of 1:51.
I tried to pick up the pace a bit on the way back and managed to pass a couple of people as I went. Slogging through the mud and splashing through the creeks made the return trip a negative split, but my overall time was 7 minutes slower than last year, which was slower than the year before, etc. I finished and was glad for it, the girls were minutes behind and everyone looked happy. Somehow this race convinced Lynn and Jill to sign up for the 35 K in Janaury. Somehow I was convinced that I, too, could do the race. So I am now signed up to run 21.7ish miles in the dead of winter....what the heck am I thinking?