Race Report : Forget the PR Trifecta (13.1 miles)

Now the final installment of the the Trifecta race reports. This should be very short and sweet. For details please review my Friday or Saturday recaps.

Sunday aka 13.1 Miles

Sunday I woke up and had another bagel. It didn’t take me as long to get ready this time, but I think part of that is because I was the only one getting ready. Gale didn’t do the Trifecta so I didn’t have her energy to distract me and feed me (it does both). Dressed and with the car packed, she was kind enough to snap a picture for me. I was a little irritated because I had to throw away a lot of my food because it wouldn’t keep in the car and the hotel wouldn’t allow a late check out. Actually I must say the Little Brown Inn left A LOT to be desired. The only perk to the room was the free TV and the screen was very small. Nothing else was very nice about it and they say “free Wi-Fi” however the only thing found by my iPAD or Gale’s Kindle was something called “Little Brown Inn” which we were told is wrong and to look for NETGEAR. We told her it wouldn’t show and she said “Oh well, it might not be working”. Really? Thanks for caring at all. I guess you can overcharge and be rude when you’re the only place locally. (Rant over).

IMAG1256

We chatted with a few friends back at the starting line. Some were really ready, some weren’t ready at all, others were just saying “hi and bye” while their friends attempted the Trifecta. One woman we know made a few comments to me about needing to run fast or at least power hike. I think she even said something about not doing it if I wasn’t prepared. I thought she was kidding, but I was offended anyway. I may not be fast, but I WAS trained. I had trained to be a power hiker. I had trained to be able to recover and get back out there the next day. I had trained for endurance over speed.

IMAG1250

The first 5 miles were exactly the same as the 25K. We went over the shared mountain bike trail, up Big Ass Hill (for a THIRD time) and through the woos to the Fire Tower. This time at Fire Tower the food options were super limited. I grabbed only a cup of pretzels, used the bathroom and hurried into the next section. I wanted to enter the next station by 11 AM.

IMG_3071 IMG_3064

Getting to the Covered Bridge was way quicker than I remembered and since I was wearing my Garmin, I knew the real mileage. It was also the same route as the day before. Since I previously thought I wouldn’t get there until mile 9…I had decided I would drop at the next station. I wasn’t feeling well, my hamstring was starting to hurt and this race wasn’t important enough to risk injury. My heart felt 100 x lighter when I decided it would soon be over.

When I arrived 2 miles sooner than I thought I would, I was very conflicted. It was hot, I was sore, and I wasn’t feeling well, but was I in need of dropping? The workers at the station told me I wasn’t the last one (yay) and they also said if I dropped that was fine, but they didn’t have a way to give me a ride. I tried to have them help me decide what to do, I was so worried about being hurt. I also hurt my pride by slowing down much more than I intended. One of the workers told me I should just go ahead and go and reminded me I wasn’t making up any time by standing in the station so long. I decided I could at least try the next flat, asphalt mile and drop if needed. See, the Lyons Falls loop was dropped from Sunday’s event, so I walked right over the bridge and into the final river being too close section.

IMG_3083

One mile lead to two and two to three. Then a pacer caught up with me. He lead me the rest of the way in and was excellent at keeping me sane. He did lie and say I wasn’t the last one, but I think he could tell how much I needed to hear I wasn’t the last one.

Those last few miles were almost the same as the day before. The big change came at the end. Instead of dropping down toward the camp grounds, you took a turn and entered about another mile of so of hills and trails. Kill me now.

My goal was 5 hours and 5 hours and 20 minutes later I finished. I suppose for what I did a 20 minute difference is nothing to be ashamed about in the end. I was SUPER sick by the end of it, due to not taking in much fuel and limited hydration, combined with the sun. I stopped for a sandwich before hitting the highway and settled in for a long dive (90 minutes) back home. As I drove I cried for no reason about 3 different times. It was a very emotional experience for me, but I am forever happy I completed the journey.

5ab92856c33311e3add20002c9c7aaa6_8

Not long later I read a blog post from a friend who was also a volunteer at the event. She made it very clear how annoyed she was with the walkers at the event and how she wished more people would have stayed home if they weren’t faster. She cited people taking 3 hours to get to the one aid station. I know I took that long, who knows if anyone else did. Naturally I took this post very personally and was crushed. After all the hard work I put into my weekend, there it was in black and white, someone’s opinion that my best wasn’t good enough. I always consider the PRE quote “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift” and I push myself each and every time. Maybe it doesn’t seem that way to the outside observer, but after sitting out for years due to injury or other issues, I opt be out there if it is safe to do so and there isn’t a cut off. I never do races with cut offs I can’t make, and I don’t mind either. This race was so vital to so many aspects of my life and I was allowing one post to take that away from me.

24-48 hours after reading the post and considering all aspects of my reaction and possible actions, I saw a pin on Pinterest and it reminded me to let it go and move forward.

83d821a400e902e88712e0ee3d9b7509

With that I’ll wish everyone a safe and happy weekend. Get out there and do something you love.

Race Report : Forget the PR Trifecta (25K)

Welcome to part two of three of my Forget the PR Trifecta race report series. Looking for part one? Where I ran 4.1 miles on Friday night.

Saturday aka 25K (but really a little more)

Waking up Saturday morning wasn’t a struggle at all. I was so ready it was almost funny how different I felt from any other race. Sure I was slow. It took me almost 90 minutes to get ready, despite everything being laid out the night before. We were talking and watching TV and enjoying a light breakfast of bagels. Mine were super yummy with cream cheese and fruit spread. I even managed to snag this super swell selfie.

IMAG1255

Eventually we made it over to the starting line and met up with various friends and loved ones. Then we gathered in the road, “listened” to pre-race announcements and were off! Very quickly Melissa and I fell toward the back of the pack. I could sense I was capable of running fast, but I knew I had nearly 17 miles ahead of me and I knew I had another 13 on Sunday. Plus 5+ hours of trails are always better spent with a friend, so I opted to stay with her.

10248958_10201728627045003_1911669658_n

10173261_10201728679366311_946497410_n

10171089_10203686213944309_1801114628726790995_n

I’ll break this down into 3 sections, based on where the aid stations were located. The first 5 miles lead to the Fire Tower. Miles 1-3 were essentially the same trail used by the 4 miles the night before. A slightly muddy, somewhat narrow track used for hiking and mountain biking. Around mile 3 we met with BAH again and I was victorious! It was a huge boost to my confidence how well I managed to make it up this time around. Once at the top I peeled off my arm warmers and adjusted myself for the remainder of our rather long day.

After BAH there’s another two miles of rolling hills and more “typical” trail environment. Tall trees and paths lined with tree limbs, bark, grass and gravel. Honestly I didn’t notice what time we entered the first aid station. I know as we turned the corner the sweeper caught up to us and confirmed we were the back of the pack. I think there was a part of me that didn’t want to hear that, so I didn’t want to know what time it was. I swear as I left this station we were told it was 4 miles to Covered Bridge, which would have put us around 9 miles. At the station I grabbed a cup and filled it with pretzels, fritos and m&ms. Yum.

10169247_10152077948856242_2411739967551084867_n

1932212_10152077948671242_1523515828002033100_n

I think the part after the Fire Tower is one of my favorites. Lots of tree coverage and a few wooden bridge crossings. It comes across as super easy and I can only imagine its beauty when things are in bloom. Along the way we caught up to a pair of other ladies, one of which was going for her first 25K! YAY!

IMG_3069

I learned Sunday the Covered Bridge is actually at mile 7-ish. HUGE difference from mile 9, right? Since I didn’t know that on Saturday and we rolled into the station at 11, I thought we were making really good time. Well a 20 minute pace versus a 26 minute pace. When you think about it, that’s almost a whole mile per hour faster. At the Covered Bridge I stocked up on pretzels and fritos again and we took off.

After Covered Bridge we enter what is easily the most challenging and the most beautiful section of the route. The Lyons Falls loop. It is a 4 mile lollipop shape, where you get to see some of the faster runners finishing as you are starting (if you’re slower like I am). The first part isn’t very easy to run, it goes along the river and there are tons of tree roots and giant rocks along the path. MANY families and dogs were out in this section since the park was still open to the public. A little ways into the loop you enter “The enchanted forest”. Basically with the amount of rain we’ve had, you run through a river. LOTS of greens, very noticeable temperature drop and when you come out the other side there is a hand over foot root climb.

10015643_10152073826906242_4470837682572634921_n

IMG_3072

IMG_3073

IMG_3075

IMG_3078

Back onto the trail and up to what I started calling “punishment road”. It was a paved road, which you might THINK is a nice break, but it was a long slow wrap around hill and it was getting very hot outside.

IMG_3080

IMG_3079

Luckily back on the path I ran into various friends doing the 50K loop and we kept trekking along back to the aid station. There was also a really pretty waterfall to remind us to stop and enjoy the magic of the day. I also chose to drink about 10 oz of my Gatorade and eat a packet of BelVita breakfast biscuits.

IMG_3081

IMG_3082

At Covered Bridge visit number 2, I wasn’t feeling well. I was getting a little tired of being out there and I wish Melissa was feeling better so we could go faster. Knowing the right mileage this time around it SEEMED we had slowed down A LOT on the last loop. Knowing I was wrong about the initial CB visit, I can see we were on pace the entire time. One of the volunteers offered me some stuff for my upset stomach, of course I was allergic to it all. So I passed and we started on our way to the last section. We made it nearly 12 miles and had 4.75 to victory. Normally you cross the river by walking THROUGH it, but the rains were so bad it would have been entirely unsafe to attempt this year.

IMG_3083

The last part is almost completely not able to be run. The first mile or so is on pavement through the camp grounds. Then you enter the trail again only to be on such a narrow path, I mean almost not even single track at times and it is SO CLOSE to the river. Most of us feared falling in!

10259926_10202949900643478_6440397041841115848_n

After those two miles, there’s a rather “forest-like” section, only once again the rain had an impact. We basically were in mud or what seemed like another river over and over and over. I decided to suck on a peppermint to distract from my tummy issues, but the weirdest thing happened. Not to be TMI, but my umm butt started to have spasms. I didn’t feel sick or like I might be sick, but it was twitching all the same. This lasted for maybe 5 minutes. Then we entered the last true challenge of the course “The North Rim”. Up a set of switchbacks, that normally aren’t rough, but when you’re at 15-ish miles they suck, you walk them for about a mile before starting your decent to the camp grounds. Then it’s around those grounds on a gravel road for a moment and finally to the finish line!

10153747_10202949890083214_1218195744641155273_n

IMG_3084

Melissa and I finished in about 7 hours and 45 minutes. We were of course the last of the 25K people to finish. We didn’t care (well I didn’t, who knows what she thought). I was so happy to spend the day with my friend and to finish the distance no matter the reason. Later I learned she went back to her cabin and told everyone how happy and positive I was the entire race and how nice it was. This made me happy 100x over to have brought her some joy.

I visited the HOKA peeps again to try their shoes with normal laces and to see how they felt with swollen feet. Good to go on both accounts. Then I somehow managed to get to my car, get to the motel and shower like I’ve never seen water before. Soon Gale made it back to the room and we ventured out for dinner. I had a DELICIOUS cheeseburger with sweet potato on the side. She had a salad and frozen custard.

Before bed I did more foam rolling with my awesome enso roller and stretching with my Pilates ring and silently hoped for another successful day to wrap up the series on Sunday.

Race Report : Forget the PR Trifecta (4.1 miles)

I accomplished something amazing this weekend. Over the course of 3 days I finished 3 different races totaling over 35 miles. Forget the PR is an event I completed 2 years ago when I ran the 25K. Going into it I had no idea how true “Forget the PR” really was. PR for those who do not know is a “personal record”. Runners keep PRs for various distances as well as specific courses. After my first experience with FTPR I cried excessively and vowed to stay away from trails and ultras. We see how well that worked.

For 2014 the Race Director started a new feature, called the Trifecta.

5ab92856c33311e3add20002c9c7aaa6_8

In order to complete the Trifecta runners had to complete  a 4.1 mile race on Friday, followed by either the 25K or 50K on Saturday, and wrap it all up with a final 13.1 mile race on Sunday. It was quite the challenge! Several months ago I stepped up to the challenge and signed up. Knowing and truly believing I would probably not even bother showing up, but at least it gave me some small hope.

For the ease of your reading I’ve decided to break my report down into each day.

FRIDAY aka 4.1 miles

Sitting at lunch with my Mom Friday afternoon before driving down to Mohican State Park I was almost in tears with excitement. Such a huge part of me could not believe on any level I was headed to the event and I was properly trained! Mind you I knew I wouldn’t run all three days, but there wasn’t a cut off and everyone always seems so welcoming I knew it’d be OK to power hike/run.

Friday night I wore my running clothes down to the park and was ready for the mud and excitement. I was able to test run a pair of HOKA ONE ONE Conquests.

Soon, we all gathered together on a bike path and listened to final announcements. We took off and entered the woods, running about the first mile along a trail shared by mountain bikers so lots of rocks and logs, small streams and rolling hills. The second mile lead up back around parts of the camp group and back into the woods to run up “Big Ass Hill”. Then it was back down BAH and to the finish using the same shared path.

Photo credit: Cheryl Steen Smith

Photo credit: Cheryl Steen Smith

Highlights of my race? Feeling like a jerk when I couldn’t get my footing on BAH. Opting to slide down a “waterfall” area and getting super muddy. Tripping along the course and going into “downward dog – showing my muddy ass to this random biker” pose. Finishing with a smile.  Knowing I ran most of it and super excited for the rest of the weekend, even if I was SUPER last place. DFL. Yep.

8320c94cc1d111e3a1190002c955b418_8

 

I joined Gale for dinner and then it was time for bed, I needed to be up and ready to go by 800 AM the next morning.