Friday evening, my sister drove down to spend the night at our house. We planned a 4:30 AM wake up call so we could hit the road at 5 AM. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. My husband got home late, after spending 2+ hours trying to find me a cheap watch. I could not find my regular old Timex anywhere and just wanted a regular watch to use for the day. I was going to take his but he is sweet and didn't want me to have to wear his big men's Timex around. Apparently no stores had cheap ladies sports watches in stock but he finally found one at Kohl's 5 minutes before they were closing. On top of him stirring around, the dogs were barking and there were thunderstorms throughout the night.
|Picture inserted only because I do not have enough pictures for this long of a recap!|
At 5 AM, my sister and I headed out, first dropping her truck off at Park 'N Ride on the way. We drove in and out of some really heavy downpours - great! I ate a Clif bar and a banana on the way. The drive didn't take as long as our directions indicated which was both good and bad. It was good because we got one of the few remaining parking lot spots and didn't have to park in a field that I saw a truck almost get stuck in on the way out. It was bad because we ended up getting soaked on our walk over the pavilion where we hung out for almost an hour before the race started. We were cold and wet already and both seriously thought we hadn't dressed warm enough.
Eventually, all 450 of us that started the race gathered in a field and were off at 9 AM. The course consists of a short 3.6 mile loop that took us through some fields to get us all spaced out before hitting the single-track trails. When we hit the first trails, I was pleasantly surprised. They were very run-able and were not technical with roots and rocks. Part of the way through the short loop, I started to get really hot. At this point, I was already a little worried. I wasn't feeling great but that is typical for me in the first few miles until my legs are warmed up and moving correctly. After shedding the jacket, temperature wise I was straightened out and things were looking up because my legs finally felt like they were moving as well.
We passed through the main pavilion and headed out for our first long loop of 13.7 miles. All trails continued to be about the same. It was single-track trails that were for the most part run-able, very few rocks and roots. There were tons of constant, relatively short climbs and we walked anytime everyone around was walked. The course description says there is 9,800 feet of climbing. While there were lots of hills to climb, I don't think it had as much as the other two trail events I've done. Overall, I'd say it is a great race for those running their first ultra. Trails were mild, decent amount climbing but nothing too technical on the trails and a wonderfully marked course.
There are 4 advertised stream crossings. Water levels appeared low so only 2 required getting feet wet. And, really, some people may have gotten through those by rock hopping but I'm a klutz on the rocks and it is just easier to go through the water. The second one was a little deeper, almost to my knees but actually felt refreshing. As long as the stream crossings aren't every 20 feet, I don't mind occasional wet feet. We were in a field for awhile and on a road for 1 or 2 miles during the loop. For me, the fields were by far the hardest. For some reason, I just wanted to walk through them and more people kept passing me in the fields more than anywhere else even when I tried to keeping 'running'.
The end of the first long loop and we were back to the main pavilion 17.3 miles into the day in 3 hours and 43 minutes. I filled up on some M&M's, a PB&J square and a cup of Coke and off we went. My main concern was cut-off times. The 17.3 mile cut-off time was 1 PM so we made it through that one.
The second loop is running the long loop a second time. Very shortly into it, my sister asked if I would be able to finish if she dropped. I said yes, asked if she just wanted to walk a little more to which she replied no and then did the only thing I knew to do. I went in front of her, didn't really talk and just hoped she'd hang on. There were a few factors. First, the weather was pretty miserable the whole day. There was some very light rain off and on and we went through one decent downpour. By this point, the trails were rough. There were 450 people that started this race, on the same single-track trail that you passed through in some areas a total of 3 times. They were a sloppy, sloppy mess and for those of us more in the back of the pack, those conditions continued to get worse and traction was sometimes tough. She's not a fan of multiple loop courses either since there is nothing new to see (or distract us). Also, she put a new valve on her pack and didn't test it and couldn't get any water out so was relying on just the aid stations (though we could have stopped if really needed to if she needed to drink directly out of the bladder in her pack). Luckily, she hung on and got through the low spot and did some leading for me in the later miles.
|(Source) - Mile 25.7 - posing with random people I do not know|
Slowly, but surely, we eventually made it and crossed the finish line in 7:42 which means it took us way longer to do the second loop than it did to do the first 17.3 miles. It had not really occurred to me that it took that much longer until I saw the splits on the results page. But, I was happy. We finished in all time limits and I wasn't the last one, there were still 60 or so official finishers behind us. We collected our hats, and car seat covers (great idea!) for finishing.
A garden hose was laying out to rinse off mud so we got off the major amounts, grabbed a quick bite to eat though jambalaya wasn't really tasting that great to me at this point. It was quite a slow walk back to the car even though it was a short distance. We cleaned up the best we could, changed clothes and then headed out.
Fruit has been the only thing I can even look at to it but slowly, my digestive system seems to be getting back to normal. On Sunday, I was pretty sore and the extent of movement for the day was a very slow walk around the neighborhood with the dogs. By Monday, I was navigating the stairs without issues and already getting the urge to get back out there.