This is my 4th race that I signed up for that is at least marathon distance or longer in the last 3 months. I initially worried that I had signed up for too many races in a short span of time but have found that I am doing great with these distances and my recovery time is faster. In fact, I am loving it!
I really wanted to run this particular race last year, but I really wasn't in enough running shape to run it. I'm glad I waited to run it this year because I am REALLY ready. My initial goal for this race was to use it as a training run for DRT 50k since that is the race I am aiming to finish within the time frame allotted.
I so blindly signed up for this race not knowing the first thing about it. It's not till about a week before the race that I hear the race buzz about how hard this race is. What??? I didn't know this was going to be a hard race. Normally, I only want to sign up if it's tough, but I just didn't think this one was going to be for whatever reason..lol I see race elevation profiles on FB that just freak me out because I know there is an 8 hour cut off for this race. I didn't see it as a problem, but now I am worried. Then I realize I ran H9 in 6:51 hours. I ran the first 25 miles of The Jewel 50 mile in 6:25 hours. So, I just settle in knowing this is going to be hard and hope for 6:30 hours based on my previous times and knowing that I am getting stronger on these runs. Then two days before the race, I realize my next race DRT 50k isn't for 5 weeks yet. So, I ditch my training race plan and decide to really race this one...lol It's so on.
Lee and I drive early to the race site with the kids. It's breezy and cool but humid feeling. I like this weather. There are a ton of people at this race. My largest longest race yet! WOOHOO! I love the energy of a bigger race. So fun! And, talking with a few people that I actually know is awesome.
Now, I can tell you in great boring detail how beautiful this race is. And, I can tell you about running around the lake and up and around the mountain trails, the scenic views and even waterfalls. It felt like the first 11 miles were just all up hill. I enjoyed my flight down the ton of steps and thankful that I have spent 4 years running up and down flights of stairs at work everyday. I actually passed some runners going down the steps..lol
What I really want to write about is finding that competitive spirit that I buried over a year ago when I was terribly humbled at the DRT first training run. When I decided to pursue trail and ultra running, I knew I was no good and not good enough, but alas I am stubborn and persistent. It took me months to completely change the way I think about running and get over my slow trail times in comparison to my road times.
Somewhere in mile 11 or 12, I descend down this steep mother of a hill that never ends. After awhile, my quads feel like they are nearly trashed in a way they haven't felt in a very long time. I think back to my run with Kia 3 miles up Brasstown Bald road and 3 miles down and we repeat. I am so thankful for that training day even though people thought this was useless and WTF was I doing that for? LOL I knew that the constant downhill training was good for me and probably not what most people practice. When I finish that never ending downhill, I feel a strain in my left hip flexor. Well, crap...I got 14 more miles so not much I can really do about it. It hurts for the next 1.5 hours and then either it goes away, or I have completely dismissed it.
Once I am off the downhill, there is a stretch of running that I like. I just run and run. I only stop at aid stations if I really need something and when I stop, I make it very short. Maybe one to two minutes max. Along about mile 14, I start passing a few folks...and as I make my way forward I keep passing people who are often times walking. My mind drifts back to my high school days and my road race days where I mentally visualize myself passing people when I see them ahead of me. So, whenever I see someone I just try to pick it up. I do not know how long I can maintain my pace, but figure I should just try for as long as I can hold out.
I get to mile 20ish and there is Conti's Climb that Franco told me about on a training run the week prior. This is no joke..lol It's hard, and amazingly enough, I pass two people on this climb. I was so glad to be done with this one. I run further and hit another climb and I say probably too loud "FUCK"! LOL But, who cares in the woods, anyways?
I get to the last 4-5 miles and I'm determined to run this as hard as I can. After all, I only have 4 to 5 miles left. I can do that in my sleep. I am still passing people in my final stretches toward the finish line. I glance at my watch and notice that my time is 5:53 hours...but I am thinking I am too far away to get under 6 hours. I already know from last years times that a 6 hour finish would be awesome especially for me. I run around the lake and the finish is so close!
I finish at 6:00:13 hours. My family is there waiting and Mitchell runs along side of me. I ran so hard that I am tired. I was so glad to be done with this race. I ran so hard the entire time. I ran my PR for a trail marathon. I far exceeded my expectations. I only ran this hard because it was such a big race. I found a mental motivation that I haven't had in a long time...mainly competition. It was fun! I was the 11th female finisher. I thought that was pretty good, but I am just even happier to have run the crap out of this race.
DRT 50k, Next!