After we dropped our stuff off, we walked over to the race packet pick-up. We got our numbers and shirts, and decided to stay for the pasta dinner, since the only other restaurant in town boasted “Italian-Mexican-American Fare” on the sign. A little sketchy if you ask me. The pasta was good, and we headed back to “Santina’s Delight” for some R&R. We did have a very nice balcony overlooking Fischer Lake, so we lounged around for a bit before hitting the hay.
5am came pretty quickly, and I got up and started my pre-race ritual. Canned coffee from Whole Foods (no I don’t usually drink canned coffee, but you gotta do what you gotta do), peanut butter bread, and a banana. Here I am all ready to go:
Steve drove me to the race, which had a 7:00 start, and then headed back to get ready for his 10k race that started at 8:30. There was a pre-race meeting to go over course markings and the river crossing and such.
Let me back up here. The week before the race we got an email from the race director that said this:
“Bring two pairs of running shoes if you have them. There is a stream crossing at 17 miles, just before the aid station, and we will drop off a fresh pair of shoes for you if you want them. About a month ago I saw two deer cross and they made big splashes but made it across gracefully – barely broke stride.”
Ok, no biggie. I packed my road running shoes to change into since I don’t have an extra pair of trail shoes. During the pre-race meeting we found out that this was to be a little more than a stream. In fact, it is actually a river big enough for boats.
The race started, and all 38 runners were off. The start/finish area was at Keyes Peak Ski Lodge, so naturally the area was quite hilly. I settled into a very comfortable pace. My goal for this race was not to run fast, but to run comfortably and really enjoy myself. Here I am around mile 3:
One requirement of the race was that everyone had to carry a 20 oz water bottle or other hydration system. The race was all very environmentally friendly, so this eliminated any cup waste. I didn’t have a water belt, so I purchased a handheld water bottle with a strap. I thought it was going to annoy me to no end, but it actually worked out fine. A lot of times there were 5 miles or so between aid stations, so it was nice to be able to constantly have water available. I tried to remember to take a sip every couple of minutes to stay hydrated. Mile 9:
As you can see, I was just enjoying myself. The trails were beautiful, and I was just trying to pay attention to my surroundings (and the trail markers!) and take it all in. Right around mile 18 I came to the river crossing. There was a sign marked “swim,” which just pointed straight to the water. Then there was a sign marked “run,” which pointed to a little trail leading down to the water. There was a rope strung across the river to hold onto, and a guy in the middle to help people across. Here’s how it went down:
Here my feet got swept out from under me by the current:
Making it out the other side:
Right after this there was an aid station where I changed into my dry road shoes. It felt nice to have dry feet, but this may have been a bit of a mistake, as some of the trails after this point were a little more technical, and I was wishing for my trail shoes. The water was cold but very refreshing, and my legs felt great for the next few miles due to the impromptu ice bath.
I passed a few people in the last 5 miles, and because I had been taking it easy, I still felt really good. The biggest hills were around miles 24-25, because we had to come up the back of the ski hill and then down the front to the finish. Here I am coming down the final stretch:
That guy came out of nowhere and passed me right at the end. And crossing the finish line:
I finished in 4:21:13, which I was really happy with for my first trail marathon. Steve also finished his first trail run ever, which ended up being a little more than a 10k due to some poor course markings. Here we are after the races (yes, Steve ran the race in his Vibrams):
I ended up winning my age group, only to find out the next day that I was actually last in my age group (there were only 3 of us). The other two took second and third overall (I was 4th), so by default I was the only one left for the age group award. No matter, I’ll take it! I won a sweet Mountain Hardwear hoody:
Steve took 3rd in his age group and won the cutest little bottle of local maple syrup. Here we are with our goods:
Afterwards I was too lazy to take a shower, so I just lounged around covered in mud:
My poor road shoes didn’t fare so well:
Once I mustered the energy to get cleaned up, it was time for…what else?
Mint fudge in a waffle cone. Holy yum!
So there you have it. I think I may be addicted to trail running now, it was so much fun! I may have mentioned to Steve that Boston next year may be my last road marathon (gasp!). Of course he didn’t believe me, but we’ll see.