Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Madness

If you remember, last year I registered to run the McKay Hollow Madness 25K but storms that day cancelled the race.  Since I had been training, and looking forward to that day for so long, and since the shirt we were given is a "finishers" shirt, I decided to "earn my shirt" by running the course the following Monday.  I set out to run it as if I were racing, until I saw how beautiful parts of the course were overflowing with water and I couldn't stop myself from stopping to take pictures and videos!!  I didn't pause too often but ended up with a time of 4:11 and change.  I was happy...and made it to lunch (almost) on time.  (That will make sense if you read the recap.)  More than numbers on a watch, I had a FANTASTIC time running the course.

This year I've been training for my 70.3 race (WHICH IS IN LESS THAN 30 DAYS!!) and haven't put much time in on the trails.  Additionally I've been battling some stomach issues.  I'm not sure what's going on in my gut, but it feels like digestive war!  I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I've been weak all week (longer really, but there have been times I've rallied).

I went to bed Friday night not knowing if I would race/run the next day or not.

Saturday I woke up feeling better than I have in a long while...it was the first day all week I woke up without a headache!  As soon as I opened my eyes I smiled knowing I would certainly run.  I ate some super oatmeal (minus the protein powder, raisins and banana...so maybe I should call it almost-but-not-quite-super oatmeal), got my fuel belt armed (with EFS Liquid Shot, Nuun-water, and water) and took a not-so-quick wake-me-up-and-get-me-ready-to-get-muddy shower.  (I learned this trick from Katie and love it; taking a shower before a race is like a pre-warm-up!)  Since my sweet husband had agreed to come out to the race with me, we left early enough for him to grab breakfast and enough diet coke to last the morning.

Before I knew it we were all moving out to the road for the start of the race.  As I visited with friends, without warning, we were off and running!  I found myself beside the "Ocular Triathlete", a member of Team Rev3, a long course triathlete and Team Rocket Tri's president.  I don't know her very well so I was glad to get the chance to chat a bit as we ran.  As we were running along the road that leads to the trails we heard something in the woods to our left.  Looking over we saw a HUGE deer!!  All of the sudden it shot out in front of us (well, not right in front, there was about 25 feet and 15 people between us and the deer) and crossed the road.  **What a cool start to a race!!**

I've heard time and time again how important it is to get out in front on trail races because once you get to the single track areas it's hard to pass.  However, since I had been battling stomach issues and since this was not going to be a major race for me, I decided I was not going to worry about that and just have a good time.  Kristen had the same idea so we stayed together about 3 miles or so until I realized my steady pace was her warm up and she slowly pulled away from me.  (I think she may have gotten tired of hearing my bear-like breathing.)  I told myself it was okay and that I'd be happy if I finished within 15 minutes of her.  (Yes, I do gauge myself off others...because there are people who I respect as athletes and I feel like they are a good litmus test for me.)

Within a short time I was toward the front of a train of people.  It was nice because we had settled into an even pace that was comfortable for me, but still faster than I would have been going if I were all alone out there.  Being a "middle car" in a train of people, I was "forced" to keep running through the places I would have normally resorted to walking, but at the same time I was "forced" to slow down just a touch on the places I would normally be "flying" slightly completely out of control down rocky inclines.  It was a good compromise.  After a particularly difficult (for me) uphill section, I peeled off to the side to catch my breath and allowed the train to pass me up and took the spot as the caboose.  I didn't stay there long as I passed some of the slower "cars" once my breath caught up to my body.

Just before the first aid station is one of the tougher sections, Warpath Ridge.  The name is misleading because the trail basically goes up TO the ridge not ALONG the ridge.  Our train got a little scattered on this section.  When I got to the top I was so happy to see my husband waiting!  The aid station is on a trail and not in a spot you can drive to.  He had walked out to it with a chair and had been waiting for me (because I shamelessly begged him to be there!).  Seeing him always gives me a shot of energy and this time was no different.  I  refilled my water bottles and ran off to find "my group" who had all left because they didn't have spouses to kiss!!

Each section of this course has some challenges.  One challenge in the second section is a very rocky down hill narrow path.  I had to keep in mind I would have my "A" race in less than a month, so I intentionally took this part a little cautiously.  This course is beautiful from start to finish and it's hard for me to not get caught up in wanting to "hike", taking time to look around and soak in God's beautiful handy work.  But, I kept reminding myself it was a race and I could come back without a number on my belt if I wanted to take my time to sight see!!  I could tell I was getting a little tired, but I also knew I was getting close to the second aid station (mile 10), where I hoped I would be able to snag another kiss from my husband!  Sure enough...he had made it there in time.  He said he had JUST gotten there so it was a good thing I was a little slower than I had hoped to be!  I got a shot of cola and started out on the last section.

I thought I had lost my "train" and was feeling a bit discouraged when I run up on them not too long after leaving the aid station.  I think that coke, and seeing my husband, really gave me a boost because I was able to pass a few people and get back in the game.

Just after the 2nd aid station is "SOB ditch".  It's really not a "ditch", it's more like a ....well, after spending 15 minutes looking for a word to accurately describe this thing, I'll just have to let a picture suffice.  (This was taken from my Garmin data map...)  The marker is right at mile 10, if you follow the red path line to the right you can see the "ditch".  If you compare it to the roads on the left, you'll see it's wider than a two lane street!  This is one of the better known spots, but FAR from the most difficult to navigate.

The hardest section to navigate is the VERY LAST mile!  You have to travel up a little more than 700' to the finish.  As we got closer the little group I was "running" with started saying we were not going to run when we got up to the top...we were DONE and just glad to be finishing.  However, there's a point on that climb when the spectators can see you and they start cheering for you.  Combined with the fact that once you get beyond the steepest part you still have about .2 miles of flat ground to cover, makes for a good "race to the finish".  I lost the person I was with as she stopped to hug some friends who were waiting for her when I found my "finish the race" gear and ran it in.    My time this year, 3:36:10.  I didn't get any cool video this year, but 45 minutes off last year?  I'll take it!  (And, it wasn't NEARLY as pretty this year anyway!)

****Yes...this is being posted nine months late...but better late than never!

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon! :D

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