Red Top Rumble | Making it Her Race

“What if…?”

“What if I totally change my game plan for the Red Top Rumble trail race, and run alongside my wife instead?”

I was all geared up to race the Red Top Rumble this year. Being in some of the best shape of my life, I really wanted to let loose and see what I could do. The course is pretty easy, I know it well, and I feel very, very strong.

But something changed the day before the race.

The day before the race, I had a moment where all these good feelings for my wife were consuming me. She spent her Saturday volunteering at my son’s chess tournament, and hung around and watched his band concert, and managed to work on our laundry, and plan dinner, and take care of the dogs, amongst 1001 other things and,…. well, I was feeling appreciative.

Plus, this would be her longest trail race ever and I just didn’t want her slugging away in the back on her own.

I wanted to share it with her.

so, I did.

But, It’s gonna be 70 degrees?!

Naturally, because it was 42 degrees at 4:45 a.m., Babette dressed as if it was going to be that cold all day long. I tried to suggest a different strategy, but we all know how well spousal suggestions go over.

Sure enough, I’d be mulling like a husband at Macy’s for 90% of the race.

First came her jacket, which came off about .3 miles into the race, handed to me, and tied around my waist.

Then, came the long sleeved shirt. “Sure I got another free hand.”

Then, about mile 5, came the long pants. “ummm, I think I’ll just wrap these up in the long-sleeved shirt and hold the entire bundle like a football.”

I ran the remaining 7 miles like I was running for the end zone with her jacket around my waist, her long-seleeved Nike shirt (which she stole from me by the way), a pair of thick polyester chick pants, a bag of electrolyte beans, and a video camera – along with various paper cups from her aid station visits.

And I loved every minute of it.

The first part of Red Top Rumble is easy, rolling hills on gravel trail. We cruised along through the first 4 miles or so with general ease.

It’s fun in the very back of the pack.

While I was a little disappointed about not going out hard, there was a certain comfort in a leisurely pace that made me feel like I could “run like this forever”.

The Homestead loop isn’t quite so easy

Next, we entered my favorite section of the race – the homestead loop section of Red Top.

This section of trail has very limited flat, but lots of climbing; however, the climbs are usually brief, and followed by just as much mellow downhill for nice recovery.

The entire loop runs along Lake Allatoona with gorgeous panoramic views of the lake and all kinds of rocky shore as far as the eye can see.

It was pleasant as hell, and I would sprint ahead, turn on the video camera, and catch little video clips of Babette running up the trail.

It can’t all be sunshine and kittens

Right about the time we left the last aid station, I could sense that things we starting to get “challenging” for this lovely wife of mine. Her knees were hurting, so we started a very atypical process:

Walk the downs and run the ups.

Yep, descents were hurting her, but she could run UP the hills with general ease.

Go figure.

And just when I thought, “hey, we’re gonna get through this race without anyone getting ruffled,”

…it happened. I got yelled at.

11.5 trail miles on the books

Up the man-made trail path, around the corner, a hand-slap with Steve Freemerman, around another corner, one more snotty look, and we finished together.

She did great, and I was beaming with pride for my lady.

It wouldn’t be noteworthy without a lesson

And true to many of my running experiences, I learned something today.

I learned that by making the race all about Babette, I completely changed the experience for both of us. She felt happy and safe having me along with her, and I got the joy of watching someone I love fight hard for a finish and conquer a personal challenge.

Like many of you reading, our lives are hectic.

Rarely do we get moments like this, her and I, trotting along some mountain trails, lakeside, in 65 degree weather on a Sunday. Talking, laughing, loving. It just feels good.

Kinda like growth.

Or foundation-building.

Or something.

If I had decided to stick with my race plan, I may have done well, but I would have missed out on something really special with my wife; and there’s a helluva a lot more races than there are golden moments.

You gotta take the golden moments and “run”.

…okay, that was cheesy cliche, sorry.