Contributed by Lauren Thompson
On June 4, 2016, WOOT hosted the Heartbreaker race with the option to do a 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50K, up north near Okuma at Yui Yui kingdom. We were warned in the advertisement that it would be a suffer fest. I wasn’t sure what a suffer fest was, but I was drawn towards doing the 30k, getting a heart charm, and running the furthest I have ever ran.
On race day, the weather had just lightened up from three days of hard rain; it was humid but cooler than usual. Registration began at 5:15am; check in was well organized, and WOOT gear was there to purchase. Caroline, Jesse, Anna and others did a wonderful job making people feel welcomed; answering questions and making the event fun. The race brief was at 5:55 and the race began at 6:15.
The start and finish loop began in front of Family Mart and then there was “The Hill.” Sweet Mother of Science the Hill was steep. It had inclines that were at 12 and 14 percent, 3 miles high and gorgeously green. It took a lot longer than expected to get up the hill, giving plenty of time to soak up the foliage and admire the sweat dripping off my hat. Most of the course I was alone, and surprisingly I enjoyed it. The race was a loop, making it possible to see all the other racers go by. Racers are the most encouraging people, even when suffering; one of the wonderful reasons why I love the running cult.
Half way up the hill, there was a little fog and a nice breeze. At mile 2 and 4.2 was a popsicle stand. Anna and her girls were passing out the cold sweetness, taking pictures and cheering the runners on. It was a tough incline, but their positivity helped me keep going and feel safe, and the chill of the popsicle in my hand really helped my body cool down. At the very top of the hill was a guy with water and he passed out rubber bands to indicate each time we made it to the top. Never in my life have I worked so hard to earn a rubber band.
Running down the hill was more like flying. The closest race with an intense incline I’ve done was the Shouhashi Half Marathon, but that was not even close. There were a couple of times I had to stop; it was humbling, and I smiled at the challenge and just kept going. My abs and arms certainly were worked going down, and it was obvious that I had not done enough hill training but it felt great. As I was going down hill, I saw my running coach. She road her bike up the hill, cheered, and took pictures of me and the other racers. Very thankful for her support, especially as my family could not come; it calmed my nerves seeing her. As I mentioned before, the race is a loop, bringing me back to the start. Perfect for making a pit stop, filling the Camel Pack with water, ice, or getting more nutrition. Thank you Family Mart.
Towards the end of the race, I was sore, and stupid hot, but another WOOTer drove back in a truck to hand out cold fuel and motivation. It was the iced melon balls that are sold at Family Mart; they tasted amazeballs, perking me up for the rest of the race. After the amazeballs, the sense of gratefulness and accomplishment kicked in. I worked really hard and soon I would reach my goal of running a 30k.
At the finish line there were cheers, a finishing ribbon to run through, my running coach with the glass medal Tamara Webb had made to put on me, and the heartbreaker charm. I knew when I signed up for the Heartbreaker it was going to be an amazing race, and it was, it really was. Not sure what distance I’ll do next year, but I’ll certainly work my calves more to climb and fly down that incredible hill again!