Well it’s taper time. And of course I’m going nuts. One week from today I will be leaving on an airplane headed to Colorado to start a journey that has been over a year in the making. But we’ll get to that. Now on to today.
So the appropriate thing to do when in the midst of a taper, only ten days away from a six day stage race that is 120 miles long and has nearly 25,000 feet of elevation gain … is … run a hot, hilly race!
I told Tim the race director I would volunteer for this race a long time ago. And I really enjoyed the race last time I ran it. Plus, Swim Bike Mom friend Elizabeth was going and running her first trail race. And Isabel from the Running Teacher was volunteering…and it’s rare for the goat to be at a race where I know not one – but two people – so off I went!
I hasn’t been a very hot summer by Atlanta standards, but it has been helluva humid. I am SO over the humidity. So over it. Saturday it was forecasted to be hot, so the Red Top Roaster would live up to its name.
I got up at 5AM and packed my essentials – a couple Naked Coconut waters (pineapple for before and mango/peach for after!) along with a Huma gel and some Muesli for breakfast.
I got there about 6:30 AM and after an emergency port-a-potty break, started to work check-in.
Elizabeth showed up and took some action shots of me at check-in!
I wasn’t feeling hungry, so I just had my pineapple coconut water and one Huma gel. I figured I didn’t really need much fuel for a measly 15k after all the long running I had been doing.
I was relieved of my check-in duties with a little less than 30 minutes to go time. I stood in a really long port-a-potty line, jogged around a bit, ate my gel and got ready to go.
I stood towards the front and looked for some of the girls I usually chase. I saw one, who I usually finish about the same time with. And I saw a girl I met the week before at our group run. So I decided I’d chase after them as long as I could.
And next thing you know, we were off! I chased after the first couple girls for a while. My legs felt great but my lungs felt wretched and I was huffing and puffing. Hmmmm this is a bad sign seeing as I’ll be at altitude in ten days. Yikes. And I was soon regretting that my interval and speed work had dropped off in the last month or so. Awesome. More panic to add to the crazy taper time.
I kept moving and passed two of the girls I had been chasing, one of which is usually finishing right around me. I thought she was on my tail for some time. Eventually I looked back and realized I was alone save for a couple of dudes.
I remembered this course a lot less tough. Perhaps I was in better shape (or different shape) and I guess we ran different trails on Red Top the week before, and this is why this felt so different.
But there was a guy next to me who usually works check-in too and encouraged me telling me to just relax but keep pushing. So I did just that. Every time my lungs screamed and I couldn’t stand the huffing and puffing, I just focused on the fact that my legs felt fresh and awesome and didn’t mind the hills.
Through the first three miles, I could see signs for miles 7, 8 and 9. So I unfortunately knew that I would have to face those same hills in the last 5k. Blasted.
At the first aid station, about 3 miles in or so, I was pretty tired and thought I might just take it easy on the way in. However, some of the volunteers told me I was the third place girl. Blasted again. Why did they have to go and tell me that??? I’m too competitive to give up then. So I trucked on and tried to keep my current pace as to not lose my third place spot.
The next three miles came and went and I saw the Running Teacher volunteering. She snapped a pic too! Thanks and thanks for the much needed encouragement!
I pushed on despite my lungs hating me. It was starting to get hot, so aid stations became places to dump water on the head. Ahhhhh. The weight I’ve gained in the last year was not making the heat any more comortable.
About a mile and a half from the finish, I spotted a girl! Hey, another girl! She must be number 2. I was pretty far off, and I said, I’m not going to catch her. And I just kept trucking on.
I was pretty slow up the hills, but ran the downhills fast and as fast can be. There was one guy who we kept going back and forth passing each other who noted my speediness on the downhills. This is a rarity for me, but these trails were less technical so I just went for it. Plus, one of the best ways to gain an advantage in races is that as soon as you get to the top of a hill you just keep going as fast as you can. Most people get to the top of the hill and take a minute. And that’s where you can get them. Don’t take a minute, just push on as hard as you can. If it’s a level or downhill, you’ll naturally recover even pushing it down the hill.
Before I knew it, the girl in green was right in my sights. It was maybe a mile out. I thought maybe I should hang back and wait until closer to the end to surge and pass. But that’s not really my style, so I thought, let me pass her now and if she catches up with me – fine. Let the best woman (or goat) win! (don’t you love the fake drama I’m injecting into this race for 2nd place in a totally random small local trail race)!
Well I passed her and just kept going as fast as I could and tried not to look back. I heard someone coming up on me and kept pushing. Turns out it was a dude, so I was ok. About a third of a mile out, it turned to pavement. I looked back. Not a lady runner anywhere in sight. And I have to admit, at this point I was tired, and over it, so I just trotted it in. Let me tell you, that last .3 miles was SO long. It never seemed to end!
I finally rounded the corner and was done. 2nd place female. 22nd overall. 1:22:44. Yay! I didn’t even have a chance of getting the first place woman. 1:14:42. Zoom! But I saw her before the race. And she is fit. And there is just no other way to put it. I mean when you see me, you’re probably like, oh, she looks pretty fit, but she also likes a pizza and a candy bar every now and again. But this lady, you’re just like wow. She’s fit. And she has never even heard of a pizza or a candy bar. Sigh. One day I will have that kind of discipline. One day. But today’s not that day. But I digress.
Afterwards I went for a little run a round and did an extra mile or so. I forgot to hit the Garmin, but it’s ok. I went inside afterwards and got myself a new State Parks Pass and changed my clothes (that blasted disgusting humidity, I was literally pouring sweat on the floor of the visitor’s center…I had to stand off to the side where they had a little carpet so I wouldn’t sully the floor completely).
I meandered over where I saw the awards had started. Opps. I missed my award. But Tim stopped things and gave me my award. I got all sorts of stuff!! Including a case of beer and a case of Cliff bars and an Inov8 shoe certificate! Wowzers!
I then out of the side of my eye saw Elizabeth coming in to finish her first trail race! And under 2 hours! I ran down and snapped a finish photo!
Afterwards we B.S.ed for a while. I also saw that Matt from Zulu Racing was there. He was first in his age group and 4th overall with a speedy 1:12:19. Yay Matt! Too bad we both didn’t get the number one spots like Troop Trot!
We then chit chatted with Matt, his wife and their ridiculously cute new puppy. Oh, and also discussed the awesome race Matt puts on – Hill Country Trail Race at Serenbe. It’s November 23rd. I’ll be there, Jamaican Sensation will be there, and so should you! (See last year’s race report here).
OK so I need to work on a pre-TransRockies post…so yeah, time to go. Happy trails til we meet again!