After some delicious carbo-loading at Red Robin and a fun slumber party - we were off to Tacoma on a rainy Saturday morning. Did I mention that it hasn't rained in the area in 83+ days (probably a record of some sort) but it chose THIS weekend to start raining again?? Seriously. But we woke up early (6am), ate our breakfasts and drank our coffee, and were off to the race!
It is a very small race (< 350 total participants across the 3 races) so we didn't need to worry much about lines, traffic, or parking.
What we DID need to worry about though, apparently, was getting lost on the course! The course was less than naturally intuitive, with tons of turns and intersections of the trails, and it wasn't long into the 1st loop that we all went the wrong way. Lucky for us, being near the back of the pack, was that we only did about a third of a mile extra and ended up in the lead for a very short while! :-) The super fast people did at least an extra mile or two and I'm sure they weren't too pleased.
Kind of confusing - eh?
Each loop (1 loop for 15k, 2 for 30k, 3 for 50k) is about 10.3 miles, so you can see the 50k is a real distance, but the 15k and 30k are pretty "loose" interpretations of that distance! There were definitely some hilly sections, at least in comparison to the flat roads I normally run on, with "The Steps" (literally many steps up a steep hill) and "Achilles Hill" being the worst of it. We did pretty well walking the uphills though, and I attempted to run the really technical downhill portions but Lindsay is waaaayyy more awesome at this than I and she would get way ahead of me in these sections.
Despite the rain, the lovely Becky came out to cheer us on! How awesome is she? She got a good pic of us - clearly my heel strike is still in full force. It's especially obvious in relation to Lindsay's good form!
The loop ends with that bit on the road (only about a third of a mile or so is on the road - the rest is on lovely trail - and that road part wasn't too welcome by the end!) and then the very difficult "Nelly's Gnarly Descent". This involves basically climbing down a CLIFF using a rope that has been strung there to help you down. On the first loop this section was very congested which made it even more difficult since everyone hanging on to the rope made it swing wildly and try to decapitate you!
Photo courtesy of Lindsay's sweet boyfriend.
This picture makes it look less steep than it was.
This picture makes it look less steep than it was.
After we finished the first loop in about 2 hours and 7 minutes, Lindsay got geared up for a 2nd loop and I took a break... for over 2 hours! I made some friends, tried to stay warm, ate some random food (PB&J, pretzels, trail mix... by this time I was HUNGRY!), got to watch the 1st place man and woman come in as well as Tiffany rock the 30k, and finally I saw Lindsay coming in! She had killed the 2nd loop and was ready to finish this puppy up.
I still wasn't totally sure what I was going to do, but it was clear from the 1st loop that it would be more difficult than previously thought to jump around the course because it wasn't totally obvious where the course was. You guys, I know it's stupid to jump up drastically in your mileage. TRUST ME, I know that. I was trying to be safe. But since we were running on pillow-soft trails, and taking tons of walk breaks, it seemed okay to do this. I also promised myself I would stop if I ever felt any inkling of pain anywhere. And I didn't. So I decided I wanted to stick with Lindsay as long as I possibly could.
It was pretty lonely out there in the 3rd loop, and although my stories were incredibly boring (oh, you didn't want to hear about that time people in Singapore wouldn't sell me whole fruit? Wow, that's a riveting story Ricole...!) at least they were something! Right? RIGHT?? So Lindsay tried to get rid of me but I wouldn't let her. Sorry Lindsay!
And then, just like that, we were finishing! Lindsay finished STRONG and even sprinted in to the finish, I was so proud of her! She ran 31+ miles, and I ran 21+ miles! And it was far from a flat or easy run. Look at all those hills below. And see that incredibly steep drop-off in the elevation chart below? THAT is Nelly's Gnarly Descent!
Look at all those hills! Total elevation gain for me = a whopping 2,753 feet!
And over 4 hours of running and 21 miles of trails later and my very first trail race is in the books! It was also my very first time eating all kinds of random stuff while running (chips tasted AMAZING! plus I ate some mini snickers and pretzels on the run, and that PB&J on the break). Overall, I really liked this race. The trails were gorgeous and I'm in love with the Brooks running vest we got. The biggest drawback was that there were not medals, but there were mugs, BUT they ran out of them (they were only for 50k-ers and I saw some 15k and 30k people with them) and I felt bad Lindsay didn't get one.
I'm pretty much never taking this off.
Did I mention that since I ran the 1st and 3rd loops (and not the 2nd) that I got DEAD LAST??!! My very first time for that too! So there you have it - the time I got DEAD LAST in a race for the very first time! And loved every second of it...! :-)
Running 21 miles completely undertrained would not be complete without a post-race ice bath:
JMan looking on at my ice bath disapprovingly as he hears I ran 21 miles (bad Ricole!);
Cooper not caring - he just wants an ice cube!