I have a lot of thoughts about this race – and they are all great!! It was refreshing to not have the pressure of trying to run for a time (BQ!) at a race, and to be in a new environment. As promised, the trail race was a whole different animal and I really enjoyed it!
The one thing that I would change is the start time of this race. In the past it had started after the 100 milers (5am) and 50 milers (6am) at 8am. However, due to some parking and traffic issues (??), the marathon start time was moved to noon. Yep, high noon. It was quite odd. We weren’t really sure what to do with ourselves until our start time! We camped just a short walk from the start line so we hung out in the camper because it was air conditioned. Figured we didn’t need to eat lunch, but did enjoy a hearty breakfast. I put cheddar cheese and cottage cheese on my scrambled eggs. Do you think that is odd? Alan says it is gross. [it’s awesome!]
Did I mention it was around 83 degrees by the time noon rolled around??? Ugh. And what about those calf sleeves that I thought I needed for protection? I ripped though things off as soon as I could at the first aid station – they were so freaking HOT!!! No thank you, I’ll take my chances against the elements.
We met up with friends at the start line. This is a local running group, the Nerd Herd. Very fitting, because we are pretty nerdy! We had a pretty big group for the marathon, and a few other local runners ran the 100 miler. One Nerd ran the 50 miler (and spoiler alert, he crushed it with 6th place overall and 1st in his age!!!)
The first mile of the race is on flat land and I got my best time – 9:38. After that, it was all uphill. No really, I swear this race felt like it was 75% uphill! When it’s mentioned about “don’t run the uphills”, that’s because it’s pretty much not humanly possible to run up them and do it more than once! So we hiked up all the hills, and scampered down the other sides.
I say “scampered” because a majority of the downhill was single track (meaning everyone in a single line) with lots of roots and rocks. You had to really tread lightly and pay attention. I was shocked that I only fell once, and it wasn’t bad at all. Several times I smacked my big toe, and I now have a blister under the nail (oh no – is it the end of that nail??).
We ran with a Nerd Herd friend (Hi Dianna!!) and she smoked it on the downhills!! I could not keep up with her. I pictured how hard I would fall if I tripped at that speed, so I just let her go ahead. I was very happy to have her with us though because she motivated me to keep moving. I will admit that I thought about calling it quits around mile 8. The heat was almost too much. Luckily, the aid stations happened about every hour and we were carrying enough water. However, there were times I drank all of my water – which is crazy because I rarely drink much at all!
The aid stations were manned by some awesome volunteers who filled up water bottles, helped with foot issues (had none!), handed out food, and so much more. We wore Buffs to put ice cubes in around our necks and those helped lower our body temperatures a lot. The sad thing was that I had so little saliva in my mouth I could barely eat anything!! I did enjoy a lot of liquids and watermelon. Even skipped the M&M Trail Mix because it just didn’t sound good. My prayers were answered when they had snow cones around mile 20. Hallelujah!!!!!
I had a rough idea on a finish time I thought I would shoot for – 7 hrs. Had no idea why I picked that, but it sounded good. By the time we got to 20 miles, I actually had some renewed energy thinking that we could make that goal. I think I was running even faster down the hills now. In fact, it was downright difficult when we hit the flat lands again on the way to the finish line. Ugh, flat land running is hard!!
Alan and I finished in 6 hrs, 50 mins. Woohoo!!! Alan later admitted that he figured I would finish in 7:30, so I beat his expectations too! We had lots of celebratory beers at the end At the finish I was surprised how well I felt, although with a normal amount of body pain (but no injuries, or barking hammies/glutes!). That was a good thing, because we had to walk about a half mile back “home” to the camper!!
The race was missing one part that I was looking forward to – the hand over hand root climb – but we did have two spots where we had to cross a few inches of water. That was SUPER refreshing to feel the cool water! We also went through an area with a small waterfall. Awesome to get a little drenched in it! Kinda funny that people were just out exploring the park, and here come a bunch of sweaty, stinky runners with numbers pinned to us! You just don’t see that every day at the park!
Will I do it again? Oh my yes. And who knows, I’ve got a big year happening in 2018… maybe #50in50.
2017 Race stats:
Marathon: 149 finished (we were 61 & 62), 37 DNF. 1st place was 3 hrs, 42 mins (not sure how that is possible!!)
50 Miler: 151 finished, 40 DNF (1st place was 8 hrs, 4 mins)
100 Miler: 76 finished, 95 DNF (1st place = 19 hrs, 16 mins yep, it was a hot one out there!!)
Thanks for visiting my blog!! Leave a comment, I love to chat!……
Q: How about you, have I sold you on trail running?
If so, invest in good hydration system, a Buff, and maybe skip the compression sleeves.
Q: Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a race?
Q: What foods would be at your dream aid station?