As always - thanks to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville for the photos. (This one doesn't have the logo because I purchased it! I love it so much!)

Fourth Go At The Race That Started It All

In March of 2012, after training with my first running group for months, I had a go at my first trail race. It was the McKay Hollow Madness 25K and we all found out that maybe that wasn’t the best race to be our first, each time we told someone it was going to be.

“You know it has the word ‘madness’ in the title, right?”

Training with my small group for that race is still something I hold dear to my heart. Those friends helped build my confidence over those few months, making me feel like I could take on bigger things eventually. I highly recommend trail running groups if you’re a newbie. Every time you fall you can feel your confidence wash away and you need people around you to remind you that A) they fall too and B) you miss out on some amazing adventures if you don’t get up and keep running.

I was going over my old race report and it had me thinking about two things.

  1. Kim of 2012 talked a lot about the mud during the part of Natural Well that takes you to the finish line. Kim of 2012 would shit a brick if she sow how muddy I’ve seen the other 13 miles the last few weeks. Kim of 2015 wishes that would be the only muddy part this year.
  2. I don’t remember writing this part: “I teared up because I was so proud but trail runners are NOT the crying type so I sucked it in and pushed towards the finish.” But it cracked me up because I obviously didn’t care at the finish line at Mountain Mist this year.

However, when I read the race report from 2013, I do remember how I wanted to back out. I distinctly remember looking around and seeing my friends who were there for their first attempt and thinking I’ve done this already, I have nothing to prove. I can go home. I think about that often when I’m miserable before a race – or even during a race. That, in the end, it can still be a great day. The “pre-race” hour or so can be so miserable if the weather is bad. It’s hard to convince yourself you’ll warm up. Especially if it’s raining. But I think about that day often and remind myself that weather can be dealt with. Lost experiences can not.

Then, of course, there was last year, the year I finally beat the 4-hour goal I had been trying to beat for years. That was a good day. It got hot and I probably pushed myself at the wrong times, but it was a good day. And I made that goal with the added few challenges they put in that year to make up for the removal of another challenge.

And tomorrow is Go #4. As with everything since Mountain Mist, I don’t feel very trained as my body basically fell apart the second the Grand Slam was over, but this race is like my childhood friends. Sometimes we’ve not talked a lot and I worry it will be awkward but then we’re together five minutes and I feel my spirit recharged because we know each other so well.

This was something I wrote at the end of my first McKay race report:

Many trail runners say that it’s addicting. If you’ve made it to run an actual trail race, then you’re probably hooked for life. And I can totally see that. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s messy, and it makes you overlook the fact that you might be having a stroke.

I don’t trail run in the summer due to Donnie’s summer schedule and my allergies to poison ivy and my fear of snakes – but for six months out of a year it is what keeps me going every week. I’ve had a rough couple of months and many weekends have come and I’ve thought If it weren’t for these trail runs, I’d be spending money on therapy and medications right now. They are the only thing that have kept me close to sane as I’ve had some weird cycles of grief and stress waving in.

So, I’ll go again tomorrow. Because this was the race that started it all and I can’t miss it, not for anything.

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

IMG_6042

Delano 12-Hour Race Report

Do a shot every time you read the phrase: WOEFULLY UNDERTRAINED.

So! Going into this race I was woefully undertrained. I hadn’t run more than, maybe 50 miles since my last 50K in January. I hadn’t run on a weekday since before that race and my longest run was 15 miles and I had done it the week before.

Woefully undertrained.

But! I’ve learned something over the years of this running journey, and that’s that my body is capable of more than it ever seems my mind is willing to accept. So, I figured I’d show up, and just run until I felt like leaving. Now, I’d be sore as hell because of the “(woefully) undertrained” part of the equation, but I could still run/walk most of the day, I was certain.

The day before the race, my friend Chelsea texted that she feared she may be the only person on her relay team that would be there on race day. She indicated that if this happened, she’d just run with me for as long as she could handle it, and suddenly? I was much more inspired to stick with it. I have a stage race next month so I decided I should do at least 31 miles in preparation for that and so I could at least get a 50K sign for my plaque. But, I knew it could take me all day, even though my best 50K time this year (on trails with substantial elevation gain/loss) was like 6:20. I knew I was woefully undertrained, but I could walk a 50K even at this baseline of fitness.

So! I showed up at the very cold start thinking I’d do at least a 50K, no matter how long it took me.

OH! I also had an event I needed to attend that night that started at 6pm. The race (which was in Decatur) ended at 6pm, but the event was back in Huntsville. So, if it took me until 6pm to make my goal, I’d have to just go without a shower and I’d still be an hour late.

Chelsea’s team did end up showing up, but with no desire to run any more than they had to. So, she still was hoping to at least do a marathon+ of 27 miles. We started out together and ran a few miles, and then her relay team would run some and I’d listen to Harry Potter. Then we’d run some more together, and then her relay team would run. I feel like the majority of the day she was feeling better than I was. I hit a bad spot around mile 18 when I had slipped in some mud and twinged my groin again. It hurt for about 2 miles and I panicked a bit, but then it subsided and my usual long-run back problems set in.

I decided to take some Ibuprofen and walk a lap or two and reevaluate my “goals” for the day. I was still running more than walking, for sure, but my back was KILLING me and I just didn’t see how I could last hours longer. I walked two miles solid and finally the ibuprofen kicked in and I started feeling MUCH better. Chelsea was feeling good about her 26.2+ goal too so we had some solid miles together as the halfway point approached.

We were taking these designated walk breaks though. Blue garbage can to White garbage can. Tree #1 to Tree #3. Knobble tree to Fence. There were designated short stretches that were “uphill” (The entire 1-mile loop only has a gain/loss of 15 feet – none of the “hills” are that substantial…until you get to mile 15. Then they’re all Everest.) but those walk breaks were the only thing keeping me going. My body was doing okay, save for a couple of blisters, but my breathing was strained. Those stretches of running felt like sprints and every walk break came with me catching my breath. Another reminder of how woefully undertrained I was.

The one thing that’s great about this race is that you spend all day running with the elite runners. I usually only see them at the start line, but this race? They’re all either doing 50 (which will keep them there over half of the day) or the full 12 hour run, and since they’re faster than me, I see them often. It’s my favorite thing about this race and the reason I’ll probably do it every year. There’s a kinship by the end of the day, and I love sharing that kinship with the elite runners in my community. We all wave to each other and mutter “Good Job!” when we can. Saturday was no different and one of the things that kept me out there all day – even (wait for it…) woefully undertrained.

Another friend showed up at lunch at ran 5 miles or so with us and that was a GREAT break for the humdrum of running/walking/shaking out shoes. And that got me past my 50K mark in PLENTY of time to shoot for 40 miles and STILL leave early for the party. This was also good as I turn 40 this year, so doing 40 miles just felt right. My friend Chelsea had decided she had plenty of time to do her first 5OK so we were settling in to our new goals for the day. My last several miles were probably half walking, half running, BUT I WAS STILL RUNNING SOME. And for that? I was really proud. One of Chelsea’s teammates even ran/walked two with me. When you’re circling the same mile over and over again? Any change in company is welcome.

I finally hit the 40 mile mark and basked in the fact that I was SO undertrained that I was going to be SO sore the next day. But still! 40 miles! Chelsea still had several to go for her 50K so I ended up walking a few with her too. My walk, however, was MUCH slower than hers and she was worried about the 12 hour cutoff so I ditched her for her last two miles and she ran/walked them with her husband.

She crossed the finish line having ACCIDENTALLY done her first 50K – something most people dread and suffer sleepless nights over for weeks. It was awesome. I ended up with 44 miles total for my day. And I still was able to leave in time to shower and still only be an hour late for our shindig that night.

All in all? A great day because I had great company. This race is one I’ll always do, especially since I proved to myself this year I can always do at least 40 – no matter how woefully undertrained I am. I don’t know if it would have been as fun without Chelsea, though. She’s always been one of my favorite running buddies and the kind of person you can’t get sick of even after 12 hours. And there is no doubt that with a 12-hour race? Misery does love company.

10933894_10153493579218496_4371237633172883238_n

Grand Slam Race(s) Report

10 weeks.
4 races.
1 marathon.
3 50Ks.
119.2 miles.

All for one jacket and a HELLUVA lot of bragging rights.

I had completed 3 of the 4 Grand Slam events 2 years in a row, so I didn’t come into this challenge blind. And in the 2013-2014 season, I added a marathon before the first 50K so I still did 4 races in 10 weeks. (For the record, I did the same road marathon this year so you could add that into the math up there for an even more impressive stretch of racing.) This year was not going to be that shocking to me. I knew the hardest race was Mountain Mist, the LAST in the line of races, and I had never done that before. But the general feeling of exhaustion that comes with racing so many races so close together? That was not uncharted territory for me. BUT! I still feel like the mental part of these four races and just knowing you’re doing the Grand Slam? Came with an unexpected weight in and of itself. Just carrying around that knowledge since October: I’m Grand Slamming…that made the experience even more unique than just the stretch of races themselves.

Here are my Post Grand Slam Thoughts:

  • Misery Loves Company: There have been years in the past where this challenge was either A) Not organized in any official capacity or B) Not being completed by many people. If anyone completed the challenge in those years? I apologize. Because having 40’ish people toeing the line at Mountain Mist with me on Saturday, having survived the last 10 weeks alongside me? Gave me more strength than I knew it could give. We had a closed Facebook group where we organized runs (as we were all tapering/recovering the same weeks) and vented our fears and anxieties. We shared lessons learned and advice given. When I decided I’d Grand Slam November 2013, I had no idea I’d be doing it with so many friends. Some of these participants weren’t even my friends yet! But now we’re all battle buddies…we survived in the trenches together. Those bonds will be there forever.
  • Tapering and Recovery are Luxuries: When you have two weeks between a marathon and a 50K, you are essentially tapering and recovering AT THE SAME TIME. None of us ever really got to do any proper tapering or recovering because you’re always thinking two races ahead. Yes. You have a 50K in two weeks and you just ran a marathon, but the HARDEST 50K is right around the corner and every weekend not training for that race is a missed opportunity. We all tapered to certain degrees, and recovered to certain degrees, but nothing like we would have been doing had we only been training for ONE of the four races.
  • I can always run more. I actually think this was a lesson I started learning at my 12-hour run last year. When I started realizing I’d be cutting it close getting my 50 miles in the 12 hours allotted, I had to force myself to run even when I didn’t want to. These four Grand Slam races really drove that point home. Even if my legs were cramping, or my back was spasming…even if my knee hurt or I pulled my groin…I could always run at least a little bit. (Barring any real injury, of course.) Before this year I was of the school of thought that – once something starts hurting towards the end of a race – I just start walking. I may squeeze in a random jog here and there, but the majority of what I was doing was walking. But I discovered in these 4 races that flats rarely hurt, and downhills rarely hurt. So, if I broke things up, I could always run at least a little bit. I ran more of the back half of Mountain Mist on race day than I did some training weekends. Even when I was having severe issues with cramping, so much that I had collapsed in the middle of the trail, I was still able to run on the flats and downhills without triggering another cramp. “Walking” is not a permanent status. No matter how tired I was or how much pain I was in, there were still portions of the trails or course that I could run without irritating whatever issue I was struggling with.
  • I can walk fast/strong. I have short legs, I’m not going to win a walking race against someone with a long stride. BUT! I learned that I could do a lot of passing when walking an uphill. I didn’t so much on the last climb of Mountain Mist, but I had uphill walks in each of the 50Ks that I recall being able to pass people walking uphill. I read a lot about “smart walking” last year – not resigning to being “slow” if I was walking. I pumped my arms, I lengthened my stride, and if I was feeling strong I could often pass people walking up hill, even though I was walking too. I passed a couple of people on K2 on Saturday, all while walking.
  • Taking meds while racing is very common. I took medicine for pain for the first time this season during a race. I never knew people did that, I have since learned that few people don’t. Now – there are definitely things you have to worry about if you take certain meds for pain while doing intense physical activity so I’m not going to list out what I took when or how much because I don’t want it to be read as a “THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO!” But, I kept Ibuprofen and Excederin at my disposal during every race and if I had to take any of it? I become ultra-aware of getting plenty of water because the problems really happen if you combine meds with dehydration. I drank at least 140 ounces of water on Saturday. Possibly closer to 200 ounces. I filled my 70 ounce pack up 3 times but I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to how much was in it each time. But THAT’S how much I was drinking to try to balance out the fact that I was taking medicine for my pain. BUT! The point? People do it. Ask around. Talk to your doctor. Read articles. AND STAY HYDRATED.
  • Fuel. Fuel. Fuel. It’s easy to forget to ingest calories when you’re running long distances. Your stomach rarely ever feels “hungry” so the mental trigger is not there. However, at the advice of veteran runners before me, I stayed ahead of the game at every race. I use applesauce packets and jelly flatbreads when I don’t have to carry fuel on me. This weekend, since I had to have it on/in my pack, I did use some Cliff Gels (one of the few vegan gels) with caffeine in them. BUT! I also used applesauce. I practiced with both, so that’s what I carried with me. I tried to put something in me every 45 minutes to an hour. I alternated between the applesauce and the gels just so I would spread out my caffeine, which I knew I needed. This season was the best year I ever had in terms of fueling, and while I know your body can change in it’s wants and needs from year to year, it does feel nice to feel like I’ve finally figured – at least THAT part out.
  • I’m done with road marathons. Except for maybe a Disney challenge with friends or family, I don’t see me ever running a road marathon
    again. I’ll do 13.1 races on the road, but I think that’s the maximum distance I can handle on the road anymore. Focusing on trails all season and keeping the road runs isolated to the road marathon in the Grand Slam, that really put the spotlight on how differently my body handles roads. I hurt SO MUCH MORE during a road race than I do on the trails. It’s just such a more repetitive motion and the surface is SO HARD compared to the dirt of the trails…I just don’t think I’ll do another one. That means, of course, I won’t Grand Slam ever again. But I’m okay with that. I’ve got my jacket. I’ve got my shirt. I’ve got my sticker. I’ve done it once, and while I can say with certainty that I will still do Mountain Mist 50K every year…I can say with just as much certainty that I will NOT do the Rocket City Marathon again. Or any other road marathon for that matter. If I’m going to keep pushing this body to run long distances, I’m going to have to keep it on the trails.

10933894_10153493579218496_4371237633172883238_n

featured

My Mountain Mist 50K Race Report: A Love Story.

Let me start by saying that I have lot of words to say about lots of things relating to yesterday. Those things are all eloquent things like the previous sentence. I think the best way to split up everything, however, is between the race itself and the Grand Slam adventure as a whole. That means you have TWO long-winded posts to look forward to about running and trails and mud and how happy all of it makes me. CALM DOWN, I KNOW YOU ARE EXCITED.

(Unless otherwise noted, all photos are taken by Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville. They link back to the gallery pages if you wan’t to look at more photos.)

This week saw me with a tough groin strain that seemed to cause me various levels of problems every day. Lucky, I woke up Saturday morning and it felt the best it had felt all week. A little pain with certain, very specific motions, but nothing more. Based on those motions I felt like some of the steep climbs might cause me problems, but that should be it. However, we all had another concern: MUD. Several trails get severely muddy after rain and it had rained all day Friday. Also? Trails not usually muddy can get muddy on a race day when 200-300 people are running over them. So, combine those two facts together and we were all bracing ourselves for a substantial challenge in the trail surface.

WE WERE NOT WRONG.

We got to the lodge and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground and palpable excitement in the air. I peed three times just because I wanted to make sure my bladder was COMPLETELY empty. I have no problem peeing in the woods, but when it’s cold? I’d rather avoid it if possible.

SIDENOTE: I also have no problems with port-o-potties. But this was my first time ever stepping inside of one at a muddy race and when I opened the door and saw the mud on the floor? I almost threw up because my brain’s first thought was not “mud” it was “diarrhea”. BUT IT WAS MUD. (I hope.)

I haven’t run with a GPS in ages but I wasn’t even running with a watch yesterday. I had my phone in a zipper pocket to check at aid stations and that was it. I needed to keep an eye on my progress because I only have about a natural cushion of about 30 minutes from the final checkpoint, and I knew I might lose some of that to the mud. So, if my times/distances are not exact in the upcoming report? That is why.

My plan was just to run based on how I felt. I know the trails, I know my speed on them and how it feels. I was going to run fast/strong on the flats and downhills, but walk/take it easy on the uphills. Spoiler Alert: The plan worked perfectly and I stuck with it all day.

(I thought I’d include a photo of the lead pack of runners so you can see the badasses that show up for the race. I doubt they carried 6 packs of applesauce like I did.)

We did 2-3 miles on the road and wider trails as a means to get the crowd to thin out a bit before the first major descent. This gives you a good chance to find a good place in line before you have to deal with a potential bottleneck downhill. My group did have a bottle neck around two icy/muddy spots on the downhill, but I didn’t stress because it was early in the race and the crowd was running as SOON as it got around the two kinda bad parts, they weren’t walking the whole downhill, so it wasn’t too congested. One girl (I didn’t recognize her, so I’m banking on her not being local) did mutter something about, “We’ve got 30 more miles, we can’t walk at every mud patch…” which definitely sat wrong with me, but I let it slide and tried not to think about it again. I didn’t need that kind of negative energy bringing me down.

I kept a pretty strong pace all the way to the first aid station, making my “A” goal there with 5 minutes to spare. I didn’t want to kill myself banking time early, but if I still wasn’t pushing too hard and could bank some, I knew I’d be glad later when I got to the muddier parts.

The next stop after the first aid station was the trip down Warpath and the top part of the downhill is really technical and it was the first time I thought Oh, man. I’m going to very much prefer uphills to downhills today. And right as I thought that? This guy in front of me bit it and slid about 5 feet downhill in the mud. I like a good downhill and I’m decent at them but even I was a bit gentle on the downhills as it was so muddy and I found myself sliding even on flat ground, without the added pull of gravity.

Once you get past the technical part at the top, though, you get a nice stretch of fast downhill. Of course it was muddy, but not uncrossable. I also learned a valuable lesson I would return to several times, the traction was actually better in the puddles. If there was water on the trail? I stepped into that instead of the mud because the mud would just slide with you.

Once we bottomed out we came to the chunk of miles I was dreading the most: Powerline and K2. I dreaded them partly because that chunk is not accessible during a lot of training season so we don’t really get to train on it, but partly because I knew it would be terrible conditions. The Powerline trail was a huge mess of mud and it would get caked on and it would suck you in and while it SHOULD have been runnable (because other than mud, it’s not too technical) but I wasn’t moving as fast as I had hoped/wanted to be. Then we got to K2 which is – as the name would imply – a very long and very steep uphill. It was probably the lowest I got during the race, although I blamed that partially to hearing a very negative conversation behind me. Again – I didn’t want that kind of energy so I made sure to separate myself as soon as I could.

Once we got on Goat Trail I was in familiar territory again and just pushed through the next 5’ish miles looking forward to getting to the Red Gate at mile 17 which was – in my mind – when the fun started. I made it to the 11-mile aid station 5-10 minutes OVER my “A” goal which got me down for a bit because I had banked 5-minutes on my “A” goal before and it seemed impossible to have already lost that much time. But, I pushed on and tried to push the negative aside. I had some good conversations with friends to pass the time and eventually found myself on the Mountain Mist trail where I knew I’d be seeing Nikki for the first time. My knees were bothering me from sliding around on the mud so much, and because of the periodic negative thoughts, I really hoped that seeing Nikki would give me the boost I needed.

And it did! But it also made me cry like a baby.

At that point I knew I was less than a mile from the Red Gate which was what I was looking forward to. I needed my hydration pack filled and I wanted to see my friends and get started on some of my favorite trails on the mountain. I got there 5 minutes shy of my “A” goal which made me feel a little better. I really had no hope of meeting the “A” goal finish time, I knew there were really bad muddy points on the back half that would slow me down, but I knew the closer I stayed to the “A” goal, the further away I’d be from missing cutoffs.

The people at the aid station filled up my pack and helped me fix my nozzle which I could not get to turn off. Aid station workers at ultras are angels from heaven. And I don’t believe in angels or heaven, but I did yesterday.

I ran with another friend for awhile, which gave nice conversation to get me distracted before I got to my favorite trail: Bluffline. Once we got to Bluffline, I kicked it in. I’ve run that trail a dozen times in the last few weeks, trying to get better at it, and it really paid off yesterday. I felt great coming down the really technical parts that used to slow me down to a crawl. When I got to the next check point I was 10 minutes lower than my “A” goal but still 5-minutes faster than my “B” goal so I was feeling good. The cool thing about this aid stop is that my friend and Nikki were there again! I wasn’t even expecting them. I could hear Nikki cheering before I even got there and I started crying. I gave her a monster hug, grabbed some peanut butter pretzels, took some more ibuprofen and Excederin, and kept going.

I hit Railroad Bed and was still feeling energized. Railroad Bed is another one I run really well so I tried to bank some time there. The only problem is, there’s a few bridges on that trails, and something weird happened: When I took the steps up on the bridge, I started getting twinges of calf cramps.

I get twinges of Quad cramps often, and sometimes the pain brings tears to my eyes, but rarely do I get that in my calves. It was a new ailment I didn’t know how to deal with. I kept running but whenever I hit an incline on the trail, my calves would twinge so I started dialing it back. I was walking all of the “real” uphills but now I started a fast walk/jog even on the slight uphills, trying to keep the cramps at bay. I was only 4 miles from the last checkpoint/cutoff so I needed to just hold steady.

And that worked fine, I was going a little slower than I wanted due to the teaser of calf cramps, but I still was running chunks. And then we started the HUGE hike up Waterline which – eventually – leads to hand-over-foot climbing and a final really steep climb to the top of the trail. The whole way up I felt my calves just teasing cramping and I was getting nervous. When I finally made it to the top of the trail I pushed on the next trail which is mostly a creekbed with a good bit of water in it. At that moment? I took a weird step and then SCREAMED in agony and collapse as my right calf had finally cramped up fully.

I fell in the creek in the middle of the trail and I was so embarrassed. I told everyone, “I’m fine! Don’t fret!” but I was actually blocking the guy behind me because I was in the middle of the trail. He offered to help me up but I knew I couldn’t stand and was trying not to cry so I apologized from blocking his way and just asked him to go around.

I forced myself to stand up and try to walk it out as it loosened up. I was .6 miles from the final cutoff at that point. I needed to push as hard as I could. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very hard because I was terrified of the cramps coming back. I had taken 3 salt pills in the last 2 hours so I didn’t think I needed more salt, but maybe I did.

I got to the final cutoff 5 minutes SLOWER than my “B” goal of a sub-8 hour finish. I asked my friend about the cramps and she told me it probably wouldn’t do any good to take anymore salt. Stay hydrated, stretch, just keep moving.

And that’s what I did.

The last 10K of the course does not have a lot of runnable portions for the average runner. There’s some crazy steep downhill (“Suicide Drop”) there’s a sucky climb (“Crybaby Hill”) and there’s a chunk called “Slush Mile” on a GOOD day, so I knew yesterday it would be TERRIBLE. The steep downhill is called Natural Well and it was a lot muddier than I expected. So there was really steep drops where I would slide on my butt on purpose, but there was also large quantities of mud. The people in front of me were from out of town and thought their chances were pretty good of getting the last 5 miles done in an hour. I hated to be the bearer of bad news. We talked a bit about what was upcoming and they discussed that they sometimes overlook 50Ks as challenging races, sticking mainly to 50-milers. But our race completely changed their mindset on that. “This is harder than several of the 50-milers we’ve done.”

I ran with other friends for awhile during that last 10K and it was nice to have people to commiserate with over my various ailments. I was still running the flats and downhills, but my run was a lot slower. And there were a lot of flats/downhills I just couldn’t run because of the mud. I got to the base of the LAST climb and realized I might could still meet my “B” goal of a sub-8 hour finish. I hiked that uphill as fast as possible. I got passed by two guys on the hill and I yelled at them both saying, “Dammit! There goes someone else after my #344th place finish!” I was trying to stay light and enjoy the experience because it was almost over.

There was a local runner waiting just a hair down from the last aid station. She’s a badass and she recognized me as Grand Slammer. She congratulated me and I started crying. AGAIN. I got to the top at the aid stop and they offered me beer. I almost took them up on it, but was feeling a little queazy and knew I needed to keep it together to try to push that sub 8-hour finish.

I spent the last 1.5’ish miles crying over what I had done. I ran a lot of it, but still walked the inclines because I didn’t want to cramp across the finish line. I could hear Nikki cheering before I even got there. When I rounded the corner and saw all of the people at the finish line I just could not contain my pride or excitement. And the finish line said I was sub-8 hours which made me SO happy. With the trail as sloppy as it was, still hitting my “B” goal was a miracle. Nikki ran with me across the finish line which I didn’t even notice until I crossed and then I hugged her and cried. Some more.

I’m beyond proud. Everyone local who can qualify, should do this race at least once. It’s insane. It’s wonderful. It’s difficult. It’s powerful. I loved every second of it, and even when I was hurting, I never really got in too negative of a headspace. I stayed focused. I trusted my body.

I fell in love with this race yesterday. I already loved the trails…but the course itself, the atmosphere, the other racers, the volunteers, the 31 grueling miles all wrapped into one race day package? THAT – I fell in love with. The tears, the mud, the cramps, it’s all part of a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade anything for and it made me committed to the race like I’m committed to donuts. I can’t see my future without the race as a permanent spot on my calendar…just like I can’t see my future without donuts.

That’s how you know it’s true love…when I compare it to donuts.

Bring on Mountain Mist 2016.

And the donuts.

coverphoto

Placeholder Race Report

I want to take the time to write a real race report, but we didn’t get home until 5pm yesterday and we had a sitter coming at 6 so we could go enjoy the post-race celebration shindig. And this morning? I have a No Runner Left Behind trail running group! That I’ll be sweeping :)

But until I do a full race report, know this: Yesterday was the hardest race I’ve ever done, but also the most wonderful. This whole season has been a lesson in what my body can do and how I can be in charge of my own headspace. I was in more pain at several points yesterday than I’ve ever been, but my headspace was never bad. I was always happy to be there. Happy to keep running. Or walking. Or, at one point, rolling out of the creek bed I had collapsed in so that another runner could pass.

This was my face at the finish line. It looks TERRIBLE. But I promise you, those were tears of joy. I cried for joy several times yesterday. Let’s hope my face didn’t always look like this or else everyone who saw me probably thought I was dying. (And don’t get me wrong, I was hurting in various ways all day. But the tears were always for joy.)

More to come!