(for all you non runners I always include a very condensed version of my race report:)
I ran a 20 mile trail race. On a mountain. In Idaho. It was the best I've ever felt running.
I ate some nachos.
camping at the start (although I slept in a nice soft bed....)
or 20 miles (my choice)
It's not a race.
That's what I kept telling myself.
Not a race. Not a race. Not a race.
I felt under-trained (I'd been getting out alot....just not putting in major miles--I'd only gone up to 14 twice, and with about half the elevation I'd be climbing). I'd never ran more than 17 miles in my life (last summer), I get really nervous when it comes to races, and just a tad bit competitive.......so by telling myself it wasn't a race.....it was supposed to make me feel a lot better.
I put in a few easy miles two days before the big day and told myself I was ready.
THE DAY BEFORE
I wanted to make sure I was well hydrated and well fed.
Breakfast: Raw oats with almond milk + maple syrup + chia seeds + banana + strawberries + almonds + coconut +hemp seeds + flax seeds (basically THIS breakfast)
Snack: apple + peanut butter
Stretched out my hamstrings and calves.
Lunch: Zucchini fritters (shredded zucchini + garbanzo beans + oats and egg as a binder + feta cheese and lemon, all mixed together and cooked up in olive oil.
Snack: Lara Bar
I loaded up the car with my gear and my friend/cheering squad Ali, and we headed for The Land of Potatoes.
Car snack: Nuun, lots of water, dried mangos, dried coconut and cashews.
Dinner: (prepared by my awesome Idaho friend Tanae) chicken and pasta with pesto
We stayed up late chatting (my race didn't start until 11:00 am because it started AFTER the 50 mile and 50k races) which took my mind of my nerves and prevented me from just laying in bed all night worrying.
It's not a race. Just a regular run. Not a race. No need to worry.
Oatmeal with peanut butter + hemp seeds + chia seeds + coconut + almonds + a few chocolate chips. Orange juice.
1 hr before:
some nuun. 1/2 a lara bar
One year later and my North Face Better Than Naked Shorts are still my absolute favorite to run in.
So comfortable and light.
Smartwool Socks (the BEST)
Ultraspire Surge pack. LOVE this pack. It's comfortable and doesn't rub or bounce at all. The pockets are perfect for my EFS flask, phone, chapstick, and S-Caps
Fueled with: Lots of water, Nuun, and EFS liquid shots, every 30-40 minutes. I have decided I like this way more than GU brand. To me it tastes better, goes down easier, and has more of what you need and less of what you don't. Plus it comes in a refillable flask so you're not left with empty sticky packages filling up your pack.
S-Caps. Last year in THIS race my calves cramped up like I'd never experienced before. I was terrified that it would happen again so after a little research I found that even with electrolyte gels, my sodium and potassium could have still been off, causing crazy charly horses.
I was hoping these magic little salt pills would help me out.....and they did!
I took one capsule every 45 minutes.
Did a few more stretches. Calves. Hamstrings. Hips.
Ready to go.
And we are off!
Calm down. Not too fast. Sink in to a comfortable pace.
The winners were out of sight in no time, and I found a comfortable spot with a small group in the middle of the pack. The first few miles were terrible. I was still working on my nerves, number one. Plus it was a long gradual climb--the kind of hill not steep enough to hike, but too steep to feel good running. The kind of hill that looks like it SHOULD be easy, but your quads and lungs say otherwise.
AND IT WAS HOT
And by so hot I mean probably just low 70s but I have been running mornings and evenings and my high temperatures have been mayyyyybe 60s, mostly 50s. So I was sweating like crazy from the beginning, my heart rate was racing, and for those first few miles I was wondering what I had gotten myself into as the sun beat down on my face.
BEING COMPETITIVE AND ALMOST THROWING UP
I was also wishing the group I was running with would just slow down and hike already. The trail was beginning to steepen....yet they continued to run. I kept telling myself that it wasn't a race, so it didn't matter--I should just hike a little....but my legs wouldn't let me.
I tried to slow down.....it just wouldn't work. I just couldn't let them get ahead of me.
At this point my nerves were still working themselves out and almost literally......I just knew I was going to throw up, and even turned around to make sure I had adequate distance from the person behind me for when I did.
I prepared myself and just thought about how much better I would feel after I'd done the deed.....
and then my small group of runners started to hike.
The trail had got just steep enough that we were ready for a break in running. In the next few minutes I gained control of my heart rate, my nerves, and sometime around mile 4 I realized
"HEY! I am doing this!"
BREAKING IT UP
I went in to this not thinking about the 20 miles I was about to run. I broke it into smaller distances so I didn't have to think about the overall picture.
My first run was just 6 miles to the first aid station. Six miles! Easy. So by mile 4 when I finally got control of myself, I only had two to go. We climbed up through trees, a meadow, and wild flowers in every color--it was just so pretty. I was happy to be in my groove and finally enjoying it.
First aid station. These people are the BEST and they will get you anything you need. The nicest lady doused me with sunscreen while a man filled my pack with water. I grabbed a few bites of cold watermelon which was probably the best thing I had ever tasted in my life.
After about two minutes I was off again.
Nine to the next aid station, and that section could even be broken up with about 5 up and 4 down--easy! I could do that. I'd broken off from my group and was alone for a few miles. Climbing gradually but with a good amount of running mixed in. I was feeling in control and finally enjoying myself. Flowers, the bluest sky, and a gentle breeze--it was perfect.
And then we really started to climb. And climb and climb and climb.....less running and more hiking, sun beating down. Switchbacks up up up Scout Mountain. Scooping up some snow that was trailside and packing it into my shirt....ahhhh....relief.
I had been by myself for quite sometime. As my chicken legs carried me as quickly as they could up the mountain, I noticed a slow but steady stream of runners starting to catch up to me. Climbing is defiantly not my strength and while I felt good, and felt like I could have kept going for quite some time, I didn't see how others were climbing so quickly. I was trying not to get discouraged, because remember--it wasn't a race, so who cares if they caught up...
I tried not to.
somewhere near the top
SUMMIT: 8700 ft.
Downhill. Over the past year or so I have fallen in love with downhill running. Rocky, rooty, slippery-- bring it on. I am slowly learning to let loose and let my feet go where they please as gravity carries me down. As I began my decent I had a crowd of climbers slowly coming after me. I took off down the mountain without looking back. After a mile or so of some steep and slippery downhill, I reached a big snow patch to cross. I stepped in--it was slushy--and too steep to hike down without falling. hmmm.....
well, why not.
I sat down and slid.
Feet straight out in front of me, fingers crossed that when I flew off my sledding hill they would stick their landing. I screamed as I slid, and my feet very ungracefully landed in the mud below. I turned around to see how many people had seen my dismount and heard my cries, and I didn't see a single soul.
I was alone on the mountain--I had lost those quick climbers and was again by myself.
LET'S DO THIS
Ok, this is a race now. Forget everything I said before.
I felt confident in my downhill abilities and wondered if I could catch anyone. I took off into the trees, zigzaging down the mountain through the warm scent of dust and pine.
Had I not been in race mode, I would have stopped to take one million pictures. Thick pines shot up from the ground, as far as I could see in every direction. Logs across the trail and tipped overhead like bridges to cross under. Down down down and feeling so good. Oh--and what's that? A person. And another. I was catching them one by one was having so much fun I didn't even realize I was just about to the next aid station.
I'd made it my nine miles.
I devoured some more watermelon at the aid station, had my flask filled back up with EFS, and crossed my fingers my legs would hold out the last five miles. So far no cramping like last year, and I was just hoping these last 5 miles would feel as good--I was having so much fun.
After miles of speedy downhill on gorgeous singletrack, a mile of fairly flat pavement in the blinding sun was pure torture. I can't help but stand in awe of marathoners and how they keep their focus on long stretches of concrete. I just can't do it.
The last hill. Just a tiny blip on the elevation chart in comparison to what we'd just been up, but oh! It was steep. My legs were getting tired. A few steps of running, a few hiking. Repeat.
Well this is just taking forever.
THE TINIEST CHARLY HORSE AND A FREAK OUT
(still climbing mind you)
We were now running through a cross country ski trail. Overgrown and too steep for my liking, my legs were tired. I was alternating hiking and running and when I finally reached the top of our last climb I began to stretch my legs out and run down.
I felt the tiniest knot start to form in my right calf.
Not again. Not like last year. I still had two miles to go and quickly washed down another S-CAP with a gulp of water and a prayer.
WAIT, WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
The last few miles were a blur. I was still moving along at an ok pace, passing a few runners but my legs were heavy. I just remember thinking only two more miles--easy. Only one more mile. Easy.
ONE MILE TO GO SIGN
I think this sign was meant for encouragement "yay! only one more mile to go!" but my Garmin was clocking in at almost 20 miles already......nooooooooo! one more mile?!
One more mile. One more mile.
The trail spit me out onto the road and I knew I was close.
Down the road, around the corner......
thanks Ali for the photo!
elevation: 4500 ft UP! (and then all of that back down)
STUFFING MY FACE:
After I'd crossed, drank a lakes worth of water, and let my stomach settle a bit, I dove into the baked potato bar and chili that was served at the finish. The food was all provided by volunteers and it really felt like one big happy family gathering. There was every kind of homemade cookie you could imagine, and a giant oatmeal and M&M cookie really hit the spot.
We left the finish and grabbed a chocolate peanut butter milkshake that was not at all what sounded good, but I gobbled it up anyway. A few hours later, you know--for second dinner--Ali and I shared the best nachos I'd ever eaten in my life. I don't know if it was just because I was starving, or because they were really that amazing, but I highly recommend hitting up El Herradero if you're even in Pocatello, Idaho.
-This was hands down the best organized event I have ever ran. Road race/trail race/relay. The BEST. Everything went so smoothly, the trail was well marked, the aid stations were fabulous and the volunteers were so helpful, kind, and enthusiastic. The other runners were friendly, encouraging, and talkative and I had so much fun running this race.
-Green race. Race Director Luke Nelson wanted to make this year's race more environmentally friendly. The aid stations and finish line were completely cupless--each runner was given a small collapsible cup at the start of the race to use if we needed along the course. Dinner was served at the end and runners used our own dishes and silverware brought from home. From the race website "We had tremendous success reducing our garbage from more than 14 bags of CUPS last year to less than 11 bags of trash TOTAL this year. We are already working on other ideas on how to reduce our impact and improve our runners experience for next year."
-I almost swallowed a butterfly. In my joy of running downhill so quickly, mouth open with a stupid giddy grin, a little white mountain butterfly flew right into my mouth. I halfway choked and pulled it off my tongue. So that was a first.
-Those were really good nachos.
This was the best I've ever felt running a race. I never hated it--no dark moments at all, felt good the whole way down, and felt strong (for the most part) crossing the finish. I wasn't wiped out afterwards like I've been in the past, and with the exception of my quads being a bit tight for a few days after, I wasn't all that sore. I already have my sights set on a few trail marathons in the fall, and I'm looking for a good 50k.
This stuff is addicting.