January 15, 2013 by trailcats
We spent way too much time deliberating about what we wanted to do race-rise in January. It was either this or Hostelity – which I would have done solo – for 12 hours. At the last minute, Harley did his “bio-check” where he essentially checks in with his body to see if anything is hurt or squeaking. His knee was doing better; his foot was ok; and his back, well, it wasn’t bothering him too bad. So Frosty Foot it was! And I was soooo excited as we hadn’t done a race together since the Ridge to Bridge Marathon in October.
We left Atlanta around 6pm on Friday. Harley was driving and it was shitty driving weather again (a la Xmas). And 5 o’clock traffic. Bleh. A 3-hour trip to Bryson City, NC turned into 4. Contributing to this was an all-lane closed accident in on Spur 60 and a stop to the nicest I’ve ever been to. If you’re in Murphy, NC – stop by and let Emily hook you up with some hash browns. Onward we went…in the rain. And the fog. The fog was OOC (as in out of control) and would remain so until 12pm race day. Speaking of which.
6:30AM came early – as it always does. We filled up with a mediocre breakfast in the host hotel’s (Tsali Recreation Area near the . This area is famous for its miles and miles of mountain bike trails. This weekend it would be overtaken by a bunch of crazies looking to play in the mud. 130ish people were running the 50k on Saturday and another 400 were running the 30k and 8k on Sunday.$45 special) lobby and then made our way – in the rain and fog – to the
We started a little after 8:30 up a decent hill in the lower parking lot. I would say we put in ourselves in the middle of the pack knowing that we would hit single track at the 0.5 mile mark. Usually Harley is telling me to slow down during the first few miles, but on this day, it was me who felt like he was running with reckless abandon. At one point around mile 5ish when he was ahead of me he asked, “Do you want to pass these people?” I said no. And the next thing I know – he’s passing them. Argh! I felt like I was going 30 seconds to one minute faster a mile than I wanted to be.
Going faster on this course was kind of easy though. It was such a nice trail. Reminiscent of the trails. It was very, very runnable and offered great views of the Nantahala National Forest and (more so as the day went on and the fog lifted). Rhododendrons were everywhere. And the rain stopped as soon as the race started. I was totally expecting the trails to be super gnarly from all the rain – but they were fine. Sure there were a couple of slippery spots, but even clumsy ol’ me survived without a fall. We met Scott, a runner from South Carolina who we learned had recently moved back to the south after a stint in Austin. He had run the Bandera 100k so we swapped trail stories from out there.
So the Adams were trucking. We stopped at the aid stations just long enough for a quick swig of Gatorade and to stretch our hammies. The temperature was around 65 for most of the race. It was humid as all get out but surprisingly refreshing? I will never say that again for the rest of my life I’m sure – but I’m sticking to it for this trail story. Each of us had some goals for the day. My first goal was to finish in 7hrs and my second goal was to finish in 6:30. Harley’s was to make to the last AS at 23.5 miles and then do a bio-check to see how he was feeling. Him and his bio-checks – I swear. When we got to the 15.5 mile AS at 2:30, I had a new goal. I was running this race in 5 hours. Mas o menos. I couldn’t believe we were running less than 10:00 miles. Thank you Harley for making me hustle – I hope you weren’t sabotaging me!
Anyways. Around mile 20 he confessed he was starting to slow down and encouraged me to keep the dream alive! The distance between us slowly increased and I was prepared to run the last 11 miles solo. So I did. People always ask me what I think about as I run since I don’t listen to music. At the time it seems like my mind can’t stop racing but afterwards I have no flippin clue what I was thinking about. I know one guy in the race reminded me a bit of a younger version of my dad. So I’m pretty sure I reminisced about him for a while. I remember thinking how proud he’d be of all this crazy running as he used to sign me up for Fun Runs in Houston when I was 10ish. I remember running with some of theat one event. Focusing on passing the person in front of me also helped pass the time. Intermediate goals.
I passed the last aid station which I thought was at mile 22.5 (was 23.5) at the time. Please note: I was very under-prepared. I didn’t know what the aid station distances were. I had no real idea of what my finishing goal should be. I was just winging it. Me and my $8 Targets kids watch. I finally asked someone with a fancy Garmin where we were and he said mile 26. I said I was going to give it another mile and then pretend I was doing The Triangle – a 4-mile loop near our house. I have to say I felt like a better runner in this race than any other race and I attribute it to really staying on top of my eating. I made sure I was chewing on something about every 20-30 minutes after the first hour. I usually obsess about making sure I’m eating but I still think I fall short. But not this day. And definitely not again (I hope).
The last few miles seemed like an endless slow ascent. As the trail widened here it hugged the side of the mountain so that you could see for a pretty good ways if anyone was in front or behind you. I saw a couple of guys in front of me and no one behind me. That meant I could sneak in a little fast walking here and there. And so I did – until I saw her! The last chick I would probably have the chance to pass. Thank god – an intermediate goal that should take me to the finish line! I was going faster now and my legs felt fresh all over again. When she caught sight of me though, it was OVER. That girl took off like a damned cheetah. There was no way I would catch her. No way. I was so convinced I even took a sec to stretch my hammies again. I thought I had another 2 miles or so to go. I had convinced myself I must have slowed down in the 2nd half and I was prolly going to finish around 5:15 or 5:20.
But then I finally heard the sounds of voices and what must be a finish line – much sooner than I expected. I charged up the little hill to the end and was beaming ear to ear when I saw the clock – 5:02!!!!!! Can you believe it! Me with a 5:02 (09:44 pace)?! I couldn’t believe I had an equal split. I was a happy little runner. I then found the cheetah and introduced myself and let her know how badass she was.
Then I went down the hill to wait for Harley while chatting up some awesome volunteers from Asheville. I love the people at these races. The race director, Aaron Seth, was super awesome as well. He was present at the 15.5 mile AS and cheering on all the runners. He did a helluva job. And introduced me to my new fave trail food: Bonk Breakers!
When I saw Harley come around the corner I shot up in the air like a firecracker. I was so happy! Bounce bounce bounce! He came in at 5:39 which was super awesome
considering he hasn’t been running much in the last 2 weeks due to a sore back. I followed him up to the finish line and we immediately started catching each other up on what we had gone through on our last 11 miles. We enjoyed some tasty chili (veggie for me!) and some kickass cookies from Flat Rock Village Bakery (the baker came in 3rd overall). Next we mosied over to the Nantahala Brewing Company for the awards ceremony. What a great idea, RD. A lot of people boot-scoot-and-boogie after a race, but hell, have the ceremony at a brewery and you’re guaranteed to get some folks to stick around. I was not expecting anything – but I felt it was imperative that we have a Noon Day IPA before we get on the road for another 3 hours! And then I heard it – Holly Adams – 2nd in my age group. I got a fun winter hat and what appeared to be a commemorative Frosty Foot ashtray (or future soap holder)! Fun times. And then just like that – we were back in the car – jamming out to Dido and George Strait.
But wait – there’s more! I wasn’t done running for the weekend. Jim had organized a GUTS run out at Red Top Mountain to run the course of the Red Top Rumble. I was going to make a game time decision on Sunday morning after I performed my very own bio-check. All systems were a go! I had such a fun time out there and met some fun new running buddies and managed to do about 43.5 miles in 2 days. And my legs are hanging in there without so much as a whimper. Have I mentioned how much I love GUTS? Well I do. There.
In other news: My mom has taken up running in the past couple of weeks. In her 30s she got up to 3 miles. But yesterday she did something amazeballs. She ran 6.2 miles out of the gate!! She said she went nice and slow but really wanted to reach the 10k mark – and with a little shear will, by golly, she did it! It sounds like there might be a mother/daughter half-marathon in our future!!! I’m so proud of you mom! You rock!