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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.