Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All the Cool Kids are Doing It: Wilson Creek Frozen 50

So, I've spent the last year being a race widow at several ultra trail races that Jay has been running.  I've stood on the side lines, cheering him on as he stops by the aid stations and watching everyone have a great time.  I finally decided that it was my turn to partake in the fun.

The thing about trail runs, is that they are incredibly challenging...yet everyone always looks excited, happy, and excited.  It's hard not to overlook the tough course for a chance at being a part of it all.

Jay and I signed up for the Wilson Creek Frozen 50 in Murphy way back in November.  At the time it seemed so far away and I thought I had plenty of time to prepare.  Jay started training for the 50K and I started to think about training for the 10 mile.  I went on several training runs with Jay's running group on some early Saturday mornings.  We ran trails through the foot hills and I did my best to not get to far behind, or lose moral when our friend (who was over 20 weeks pregnant) was running circles around me.

I felt less than prepared by the time our race weekend arrived.  We headed out on Friday night with one of Jay's orienteering buddy's to stay with my parents.  Jay and Jeff got up early to head down for their race a 7:00 and I got up to try and get my stomach and nerves settled before my race started at 9:00.  My mom drove me down to the start and I was able to get my race number and timing chip in plenty of time.

The race began with a beautiful rendition of  "America the Beautiful" played on a cello by one of the runners.  The shotgun sounded and we were off.  After a few hundred feet we were on the single track trail and the runners had slowed to a walk as we all tried to crowd onto the trial at once.  I was nervous about starting off too fast, so I bid my time, slowly moving into a position that I felt comfortable in.  I was afraid of mud and rain, but at the start of the race things were dry and the trail was nice, although narrow.

I settle into my pace and was feeling pretty good.  As we moved further along the trail, the mud began to appear.  Runners were running along side the trail both trying to avoid the mud and jockey for a good position. I was running fairly close to a few other runners, but after a while we spread out and I found myself alone.  The mud got worse and I found myself trying to stay on my feet and not get snagged by the vegetation.  The sky remained overcast, but there was no rain, yet.  The smell of sage brush was strong and I was really enjoying the course.  I asked a girl running by if she had a Garmin so I could tell how far we'd gone.  Unfortunately, she said we'd only been going two and a half miles.

I came to a dip in the trail that ended in a large puddle of water.  I slipped as I headed down but caught myself before sliding into the puddle.  I let two men run past to see how they navigated the puddle and eventually just went for it and tried to do it quickly so that I could make it up the uphill directly on the other side of the puddle.

At the point the trail was incredibly muddy and I fell into line with a man in an orange shirt.  We ran together for a while and I'm sure I talked his ear off from lack of company earlier.  We slogged through the mud and just laughed as we walked and walked and walked up each uphill that was impossible to run up.  Our shoes were caked with mud and it felt as if we were running with weights on our ankles.  We finally made it to the aid station and I was so excited to see it.  The two nice ladies filled up my water bottle, I ate a chocolate covered peanut butter ball, and ate one hammer gel and took one for the road.  I got started on the next leg of the race and felt pretty good.

I pushed through the next part of the trail and made it to the next aid station without too much trouble.  I stopped for just a moment to have some Heed and then took off for the next leg.  I had seen a few people up ahead of me and I was determined to catch them before it was all over.  I passed our friend Joelle coming into the aid station from the 20 mile loop.  I was hoping that I would get to see Jay, but our trail turned off pretty quickly.  Soon it was a nice downhill section and I powered down to try and make up for lost time.  I passed one guy I'd had in my sights for some time and that felt pretty good.  The scenery was stunning, and I wished I could spend more time admiring it.  The rocks towered above us and the rocky trail was a nice change from the mud.

The trail eventually led to a canyon and I headed down slowly, stopping to tighten my laces.  I could see a couple right ahead of me.  I followed the trail through the canyon and the view was stunning.  I was feeling pretty good until suddenly the wind picked up and was blowing straight at me.  It began to rain and I had to put my sweater back on.  I had strange visions of flash flooding and suddenly realized I hadn't seen any markers or runners for a while.  I was nervous that I had somehow missed a turn off and was going to get stuck in the canyon.  I eventually saw the couple ahead of me and I pushed through the wind to try and catch them.

As I came out of the canyon, the wind was terrible and I was losing steam.  I walked and ran a bit watching to make sure no one was gaining on me.  I was exhausted and after the canyon, the long stretch of dessert was not so inviting.  I had no idea how far I'd gone or where the trail was headed and that was slightly discouraging.  I trudged along and finally decided to just go for it.  I started slowly running and eventually caught up with the couple ahead of me.  We chatted a bit and I looked out across the sagebrush and saw the upper parking area.  That gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace and go for it.  I passed the couple, another runner, and was on my way.  The finish was still a ways off, but knowing the end was in sight helped a lot.

The trail eventually began to go down a little and I picked up my pace to finish strong.  They were ringing a cow bell at the finish and I saw Jeff and his wife, Dondi, cheering me on.  It felt great to finally be done and I was so please with my time...2:24.  Not bad for 10.8  miles of glorious torture.  I got a red and white polka dot fleece scarf at the finish.  I ended up 34th overall and 3rd in my age group...very exciting.

I waited another hour for Jay to come in.  He was pretty tired, but as many of the 50K runners dropped after 20, he ended up 4th overall, which was pretty cool.

In the end, it was a fantastic experience and I had a great time.  I think I might even be crazy enough to do another one...

Here's some pictures of Jay on the trail and at the finish.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Happy Birthday Christy! Here is a trip down memory lane. I hope you had a wonderful day!

Christy was born a short 13 months after Stacy. We had gotten used to taking care of a new we were all better when Christy came around. Christy had very fine and wispy hair when she was little. It's hard to imagine now that she has thick, curly hair that grows faster than anyone's. She can cut it short and two years later it's half-way down her back. I'm sure I speak for all of us girl's when I say I am jealous.

It took Christy forever to talk. However, once she found she had something to say...everything changed...and we haven't had any peace since. :) She also found she was a bit sarcastic and you have to watch her closely to tell if she's serious or not.

Despite her biting humor, Christy puts us all to shame with her compassion. She has, and has always had, a love of animals. She is the best aunt ever, and treats all her nieces and nephews like friends. She plays with them, takes care of them, and talks to them. She always says she loves you when she calls and is probably the glue that holds most of us together.

Christy is small....well petite. She's short and weighs nothing. None of us are sure where she comes from. But she can fill the room with her laughter. She loves to have a good time. She plays cards mercilessly and loves to win. She wants everyone to have a good time all of the time and we do when she is there.

I love you Christy.