When I began searching for the perfect first time ultra marathon, I had some criteria. It had to be local and it had to be fair weather running. During my search for the best run, I came across Hagg Lake Mud Run. I glanced at the website that boasted ridiculous photos of willing participants covered in mud and thought, “No way. That race is not for me!” A couple years later, with two Mt. Hood 50 races under my belt, I was ready for the Hagg Lake challenge, or so I thought.
A few weeks prior to race day I had my eye on the weather, hoping for a dry day like last year. As we got closer to the date, it became obvious that it was going to be very muddy just like the name of the race promised. I gave up all hope for dry weather and traded it in for the truth, mud.
It rained all night and all morning on race day. I was in a van of racers who knew what to expect and I tried not to think of the day ahead as the rain beat on the windshield on the drive to the lake. When we got there it became clear that this was going to be a difficult day. It was cold and wet with zero chance of sunshine.
We started the race up a gravel hill out and back. I was feeling pretty good, just soaking wet. Then we approached Hagg Lake to begin the muddy part of the race. It was slimly and wet, but my feet were dry and I was under the illusion that I could keep them dry for some time. It wasn’t long before we arrived at our first impassable puddle. As a newbie, I contemplated how I was going to manage going around the puddle, not realizing that this was one of many puddles along the race, and the biggest ones were yet to come. I clumsily trudged through puddle, slipping and cussing the whole time and thought, “This is ridiculous.” Already, I was not enjoying myself. I signed up for this race as a fun run and I couldn’t get into it, but kept running as quickly as I could.
The mud was relentless. My hands were numb from the cold and I was miserable. I wanted to let go and slide through the mud like a veteran, but Hagg Lake already had me. It chewed me up and spit me out. I had been defeated before I admitted to myself that I was not going to finish this race. My first DNF.
Giving up is a terrible feeling. I am very competitive and I always want to finish a race strong and proud, but I knew I didn’t have it in me to run around this lake two times. I didn’t even know how I was going to get to the 25k mark, but I just kept running. I finally arrived to the last aid station on the first loop and the volunteers asked me how I was. I was honest and said I was done. I asked how many miles to the next aid station because I was not going to finish this race. The ladies told me I didn’t have to run the last stretch because they could take me back in a truck. They sat me in front of a heater, wrapped a space blanket around me and told me it was ok. And it was ok. It was ok that I decided to stop running a race that was cold, wet and long because it was only my ego that was hurt.
It took over an hour for the teeth chattering chills to subside. I was colder than I realized and my Raynaud’s Disease was worse that I had even seen it. I take comfort in knowing that I was not prepared for Hagg Lake. I had no idea that it was going to be the coldest, wettest, muddiest trail run I could imagine. I was defeated by a race that was completely out of my element. I failed to train for the conditions I faced.
As awful as the race was for me, and as many times as I told myself I would never run Hagg Lake again, no less than 12 hours later I realized I was thinking about giving it another shot. I guess I am just a crazy as the veteran Hagg Lake finishers out there. I will probably try it one more time, but it will not be the 50k! Maybe Hagg will let me run around it one time!