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.
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.
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.
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.