Race Report : Vulture’s Knob 15K

For the second week in a row I could not sleep the night before my “event”. I went to bed at a reasonable time; in fact I’ve been going to bed between 11 and 12 on a consistent basis. True, I sleep until 10 or 11 (I blame allergies) but Friday night I just laid there, not thinking of anything…not sleeping. I know at one point I looked at the clock and it said 4:00. The next thing I knew it said 5:15 and the last train of thought I could recall was certainly made up so I concluded I slept. Every other train of thought I had was real and totally controlled…so perhaps no other sleep?

I got out of bed at 5:30 and was out the door around 6:00. A quick stop for coffee and breakfast and I was on my way. Hindsight says I should have had something to eat from the house because HOLY GOODNESS the Big N Toasty from Dunkin Doughnuts might look amazing and might taste even more amazing but it has like 600 cals and a million grams of fat. I totally blew my diet! Now, I’m not gonna lie…I had a secondary motive in getting that sandwich…it was the greasiest on the menu. And if you can’t figure that clue out, you don’t need to know.

When I arrived in Wooster a little over an hour later, I was reminded of just how rural they are! Luckily it was a drive through some of the more “cute” or “quaint” parts and not the scary run down parts. The road leading back to the site I swear was totally a path toward a slaughterhouse death.

I walked over in my slippers to get my stuff. They were out of my shirt size, so that’s being mailed to me and I grabbed my bib. Back to the car to switch into shoes and then over to the bathroom line. In line Gale informed me it’s “very buggy” out there. So being the pal she is, brought my spray to me so I wouldn’t lose my place in line.

Finally done with the bathroom and over the grass and rocks to the start. I was bummed I didn’t have time to stretch, but I did have time to exchange a few words with Gale and Tap (along with a picture) before it was time to getting rolling.

Everyone calls out their race strategy as we get started. My personal thought is if you don’t have a strategy already, then you probably don’t belong on this course. Hey! It’s challenging!

Calls of “Make time up on the road” or “Don’t blow it all in the beginning” fade out as we enter the woods for a quick loop. The lead people are already pushing past  as they return on the loop, before my group even has footing in the rocks and water. I fall into a good pace and find I am right behind Tap and another woman. They start to pull ahead of me at the first hill, as I’m slowed by looking around at the green and flowers. Green I’m used to, the flowers and colors, not so much and they are BEAUTIFUL!

I don’t wanna spend the race “walking” or “alone” so I kick it up the hill with my small fast turn over steps (thank you again Lee) and I catch up to Tap. We fall in line with the woman in front of us and decide this is a great pace.

The first section in around 3 miles (or so I’m told) My Garmin wasn’t working! I wonder if that’s because I forgot my wrist strap and had to carry it in my bra (spoiler alert…I didn’t chafe!) The first part I felt was a perfect combination of hills. As I reached the top and thought “I can’t do this anymore” we would enter a straightaway or a downhill. I was able to cruise…working for it…but cruise. After 3 miles we stopped at an aid station. According to the official timers report my time at 3.2 was 48:54. I was VERY pleased with this pace, especially since I felt I could keep it the whole time. I drank a Gatorade and used water on my back and the three of us were off!

Along the way we chatted about life, about trails, about everything. I made my usually comment about how I always sucked because I couldn’t train being in school and working full time. Tap made a comment about how she is also in school, working full time and a single mom to two young kids. At first I felt like an ass for making my comment. I felt like she was trying to “win” or something. Then I realized, she was just making a comment and went on to say she often wonders if she could train what she would be capable of doing. And I realized each person is different in their desires and goals and abilities. Last year I never would have even come to this race…this year with training I can keep up with her! It’s personal achievements after all.

We noticed we all wore the SAME model of shoes! Points for Brooks Cascadia! We called ourselves Team Brooks. Tap was totally the life saver of our group too. Passing out some sports beans and these Hall’s refresh drops. Shortly before aid station 2 we got “lost” we ended up in a loop and couldn’t figure out how to break free. Finally we took a risk and went down the steep rocks slope to the river. Sure enough! This was the way! Two girls behind us caught up at this point and I was too scared to move too quickly. I ended up losing Tap and the woman I came to know is Cindy.

After a few minutes I was sick of being alone and could hear the other two in front of me. I kicked it into high gear and after a while caught up with them. Tap was shocked when she saw me again, and I felt proud I could impress them! We made it to station #2 and I knew I was in trouble. I drank down two Gatorade and barely could tell what they were. Crap my salt was OFF!! I wore some more water and away we went into the woods with the hopeful announcement of “Three more miles”.

The final 3 miles found us back on the first loop. I tried to remember what it was like, but as we made it through my legs started hurting more and more and I started to feel my body slipping away. I started having the dark and mean thoughts people get when they aren’t fueling properly. I tried to stick with my “teammates” and distract myself…this worked for about a mile. With around 2 miles left I fell behind. I didn’t want to, but I physically couldn’t move. My calves started to cramp and I began to sway all over the trail. I suddenly became quite cold and got serious chills. Great, the heat got to me.

Now here is a good time to side note…this course is actually a mountain bike course. And from the signs I saw it’s a black diamond course. It is also built on a previous landfill. This final item didn’t bother me (us) too much for most of the race. You’d see the occasional tire, broken bottles, ice cube tray. However, we were running too fast to care. As I stumbled my way through the final section, all of these things became apparent to me. Along with the STENCH and how badly I did not want to be in the mud with all this smell and trash. I was miserable. I wanted to cry. A few times I leaned against a tree to steady myself.

When I pulled Garmin out, it said I had over 2 miles left. WHAT? I called to Tap and Cindy on a hill, they said it was 2 miles. Frick! Where would they send us? I knew the loop was ending soon. Since I didn’t know what to expect, I slowed down even more. Despite believing I could have caught my friends. When I broke out of the woods, I heard cheers and clapping. I knew it was the Grunt Girls, but I was too shamed to look at them…and I wished they wouldn’t look at me.

I had been doing so well before, and now I was falling apart and I didn’t want to embarrass the team. I hopped/ stumbled into the woods and was able to walk again. Coming back out into the field someone from a tower told me “Around the corner and you’re done”. I was so MAD! I thought I had another 1.5 miles! I would have done SOMETHING a little faster if I knew it was truly the end. MaYbe even had caught up to Tap and Cindy!

I finished in 2:51:59. Very depressing to me in a way, very exciting in other ways. I wanted to finish in under 3 hours…however when I saw Tap and Cindy finished in 2:40 I was very jealous and wished I had kept up. Gale finished about 30 seconds behind me.

After I finished I fell onto a ramp for the bikes and laid there until the chills stopped. This was on my back. Next I moved over onto my stomach until the nausea went away. When I opened my eyes I saw I was lying about an inch away from touching a GIANT snake skin. I didn’t have the energy to freak out.

As everyone was leaving I kicked off my shoes and socks and went to get a Muscle Milk. I drank it in record time. Along with more water and Gatorade. Not long after I made it into my car and sucked down my Sobe Life Water.

I decided the experience allowed me to see what pace might be comfortable for Buckeye in a few weeks. More than that though, it showed me the weather is HOT now and my dumb butt needs to take my water/drinks and salt tablets with me. I cost myself over 10 minutes getting sick. NOT OK. This was just a 15K crap like that will cost me the whole race in a 50K.

When I felt better on the drive home I was able to smile at my accomplishment. I mean this time last year who know what I was doing?  Oh according to blog history I was taking it easy. AKA I did a bike ride Friday night where I suffered through 12 miles. Prior to that I dropped out of the track work out Tuesday night (I sat down and literally cried) I tried to do a brick work out Wednesday and my leg flared up, I dropped out of the CRTR run 1 mile into it. Not really a “strong” week?

This year? 11ish mile bike ride on Monday (cut short from the tornado) 10 mile bike ride Wednesday (cut short by another tornado) 18 mile bike ride on Friday (no issues). Along with Jillian’s 30 day shred nearly every day and 3-5 mile walks with my dog. I’d say I’m doing mighty better!

I leave you with a picture of the finish shoot and an idea of the woods we were running through behind it…

Leave a Reply