December 21, 2013 by trailcats
Happy runners live here.
We’ve just completed our two best races on back-to-back weekends.
Pine Mountain 40 – 12.08.2013
Here’s what went right on December 8th. One, I ran it last year and declared it my favorite ever since. It’s very runnable, the aid stations are delicious, and the course is just so damn beautiful. Oh, and the fleeces and hats are yummy and plush too. Last year Harley swore he would never run this race for the rocks that the course is notorious for. I brought him out there a couple of months ago to run the middle part of the course and he changed his tune. It’s just a great trail. It’s no rockier than most other stuff we’ve done. So we were both running this go round. And I’m always happiest when we are doing these races together.
Two, we volunteered the day before to help set up the tables at the group shelter and do packet pick-up. Molly was also assigned to packet pick-up. This was the first time I’d ever spent much time talking with her and she stole my heart! On the way to our cabin later – I was Molly this and Molly that. I developed a new race plan: just try and keep up with Molly (ahem, she’s REALLY fast). And that’s just what the Adams did. We were a little train of three. Molly, Harley, Holly. I had so much fun running that day. We talked nonstop for 8+ hours – something I’ve never done in a race. And Harley and I were keeping up. It was crazy. I felt like we’ve never ran faster in our lives. At which point, we wondered, how could anyone possibly run faster – knowing all too well, some would finish around two hours ahead of us – CRAZY! Harley usually slows down by mile 20 and we go our separate ways. But this day, he kept up till mile 31ish. And he was just behind us.
Molly and I were set to finish this sucker around 7:50 (30 minutes faster than last year for me) until we took a wrong turn that ultimately lead us two miles out of the way. Prior to this we figured we were in 4th and 5th place. Molly felt so bad since she was running in front. But c’mon. I missed the turn too. Now I like to be competitive, but this didn’t phase me at all. I mean, I ran my best all day because she let me tag along. In my heart I knew we ran around 7:50 even though we finished in 8:22. And in my heart I knew I got 5th place (which I incidentally got last year too). And you know what that good attitude got me….5th place!!! Somehow we maintained our 4th and 5th places despite the extra 30ish minutes spent trying to find our way back.
Three, Harley beat me! He was far enough behind us not to follow us down the wrong path. So he finished with a time of 7:57! He ran so strong all day and I just hoped he was as proud of himself as I was of him. Now having said that, in our house we know that Harley “beat” me. Not beat me sans quotation marks 😉
Bartram 100 – 12.14.2013
This race was not on the agenda. At all. We had taken those four months off from running this past summer which meant that even if I had been wanting to do Pinhoti – it was out of the question given my level of fitness at the time. But I got to pace Jason for about 30 miles of Pinhoti (and he kicked ass) and it was soooooo much fun. The energy on the trails, at the aid stations, from the crew, from the onlookers, from the pacers – it was, as they say, palpable. It planted a seed. Still not thinking of any 100 until maybe later in 2014 – our friend Rachel got real chatty on FB one night and pointed out there were 3 spots left for Bartram. Bartram is 6.25 mile loop consisting of single track, forest service roads, and grassy trails – that you do 16 times. Now I swore I’d never do a loop course like this but there were only 3 spots left and I succumbed to peer pressure. So I pulled the trigger and Harley jumped on board. He said he couldn’t stand the thought of having to listen to me go on and on about doing a 100 –which I totally would have done (now we both are).
Bartram 100 was on December 14th. I think we signed up for this about three weeks prior. We were both very undertrained. But oddly not so overwhelmed. I was averaging 25-35 miles/week and Harley about 15-25 miles/week. I kept thinking – it’s all heart. You’re in fair enough shape. At least we don’t have any overuse injuries going into this. Our legs will be fresh. I was hoping that would all be true. No matter what – it was going to be a great day. Several of our friends were running too: Jason, Jim, Rachel, Joy, Dustin, Di, Margaret, Candy, Brad. Brad actually did a little coaxing before we signed up. Saying it would be “easy.” It’s relatively flat. Yaddi-yadda. So there we are in Milledgeville, GA at 7am and the race begins.
People can go nuts trying to come up with a race strategy. We had none. Just run what pace feels right at the time and keep going. Nothing major. The loop was variable enough and long enough that it really never got old. It was actually comforting to get familiar with it and be able to anticipate what was coming. Especially later in the day and night.
I did come up with 16 people/ideas that I wanted to dedicate each lap to. I thought this would help keep me focused and motivated- as well help keep track of what lap I was on. I wrote each of these on a piece of paper and stuck them in a baggie. At the beginning of each lap I would take a piece out and write it on the board. Whaddya know – Harley was the first one I picked out!
We ran the first five laps together and then I went on ahead. That afternoon the rain we had been dreading finally started. At first it was sprinkles. Then it was cats and dogs. My Hokas felt like I had weights attached to my ankles. I was sopping wet. I decided that when it stopped raining, which it was supposed to by 6pm, that I would stop at the start/finish and do a wardrobe change. That turned out to be at 50 miles/8 laps. I changed everything included socks and shoes. I was a little frustrated that I had spent about 25 minutes dawdling around but was soon back on the course. Who was I going to run with now! I found Dustin and we ran a lap together. He would go on to finish his first 100 the following morning. Then I hooked up with Matthew who I’ve never spent much time talking to. I was lucky enough to get to know this super nice guy for about 2.5 laps. Matthew had decided to drop from the 100 miler to the 100k option. He had just run Pinhoti and 60+ miles at a timed event so I couldn’t really give him any crap. We were finishing up our 10th loop when along comes this guy bouncing by us.
Turns out it was Andy. I swapped out Matthew for Andy at the end of the 10th lap. Andy was doing a 100k fun run. Why? Because he’s a spaz. But for the next 5 loops, he would be my very own spaz. We’ve been virtual friends by way of FB for a while but I’ve never met him. I knew he was supposed to be a little nuts – and he exceeded every expectation in such a delightful way! Once Andy realized I was running my first 100, he decided to stick with me until the end. I had no pacer and no one that I was running with, so this worked out great. Especially considering I had seen a kid carrying a machete in the woods earlier and a man in camo carrying a legit crossbow. And I’m a major scaredy cat. Meow.
Unfortunately the rain had returned. And it wouldn’t stop until I did. It was rainy, windy and cold. Andy kept me distracted by telling me all about Andy. And keeping me entertained with his wit and endless amounts of knowledge about an endless number of subjects. At this point we were running everything flat and downhill and only walking the uphills which weren’t too many. Towards the end of our 12th lap/75 miles I started to feel what I described as the sole of my foot sloughing off. He informed me that was impossible what with the millions of dermis and epidermis cells clinging together. But I should know that since I’m a nurse practitioner. Hey, all is fair in 100 miles in the rain. I really thought my foot was coming undone. So at the end of that lap we spent another 25 minutes performing a non-surgical intervention on my right foot. This included a shit-ton of duct tape (that would later have to be removed with actual surgical scissors – that I had in my car?) and gobs (and I mean gobs) of Hike Goo (a fancier, adult version of Desitin). With Joel was looking on in disbelief, my confidence was shaken. When I stood up and started to walk I thought I would be crippled for the rest of my life. Oddly enough, when I started to run, the pain went away. Go figure.
So we set out to run another 25 miles. When all was said and run…I estimate that I did not walk more than 10 miles. We were on the last lap when we realized I was likely first female. I was surprised and a little tickled too. Maybe some runners were checking in at the aid station asking what place they were in or what lap so-and-so was on, etc but I felt like that took away from spirit of the event. Then with less than two miles remaining, this girl I’d seen earlier in the day came sprinting by. I mean – it was like she was running a 10k! No, 5k! That’s when I realized I was in first place. Andy informed me that was Leah – and she’s an amazing runner. I’d never heard of her, but I was proud to be passed in only the last 2 miles by someone with her running record. And I knew I’d never catch up at that point, so we just kept running along – at peace with the pace of the day.
While I suspected I would be coming in as 2nd female I had NO idea I would be 4th overall with a time of 21:50. And less than 30 minutes from 2nd. I wanted to beat myself up over my long “recovery” breaks. But geez Holly, you just finished your first 100. And who knows – I could have been worse off if I didn’t take that time to treat myself to dry clothes, two new pairs of shoes and socks and four feet of duct tape around my pinky toe.
Andy, I can’t thank you enough for being the best company a girl could ask for for 30 miles in the middle of the night. You’re a doll.
Now…where was Harley. I had seen a him a couple of times at the Honeymoon aid station. That was the clever name Jim had given to the unmanned aid station in the middle of the course. You reached it at mile 2 and again around mile 4.5. I actually saw Harley there twice when we were coming from opposite directions. It was the highlight of miles 50-70. We would run towards each other, exchange a hug and a kiss and my damp, blistered spirit would be rejuvenated.
I saw Harley when he came through after lap 15. His feet were in pretty bad shape and he had been walking since mile 75. He was committed to finishing though – and a couple of hours later he did. With a big ol’ smile on his face and a buckle in his hand! He came in 19th overall at a time of 25:33.
It was awesome seeing all of our friends come in. All the girls finished – Di, Rachel, Candy, Cecilia and Joy. Such an exciting day, and night, and day. Margaret, as Jason would say, had the luxury of already owning several buckles, so she just ran a few laps. This was also the first hundo (of many I’m sure) for Rachel, Joy, Di and Dustin. Goosebumps. Jim, unfortunately, had severe back pain a few loops into the race and had to drop. But he was a good cheerleader for the rest of us until late in the night. Harley and I made it home in time for a quick three hour nap before the GUTS EOY party. Thankfully, Jim offered to drive us to the GUTS EOY party as we were feeling pretty rough.
We ended our crazy running weekend amongst the best group of runners EVER. These are the most selfless, encouraging, nutty group of trailrunners anyone would have the privilege of knowing.
So will we do another 100? Yeah, we probably will.
Oh, I almost forgot, you prolly wanna know what I dedicated each lap to. Harley, Billy, victims of sex trafficking, same-sex marriage, Roger, Scotties, gun control, Iris, non-Scottie friends, Mom, Mie-ma, happiness, women’s rights, Henry Lewis, universal healthcare, peace. Just trying to keep it light 😉