Mystery Mountain Marathon 10-13-13
So for as many trails as I run, of course I’m a member of the Georgia Ultra and Trail Running Society – or “GUTS” as its known. However, in the years that I’ve been a member, I rarely make it to their races. They Mystery Mountain Marathon is a staple, and this year I decided to add it to the race roster.
This year was a crazy year for racing. Starting in February I’ve done a marathon or greater nearly every month. February I did the Thrill in the Hills Marathon coming off an exhausting back to back trip to India and Portland. March I did the Publix Marathon and had a PR. April and May I don’t really recall. I know I did Scenic City in May…June I did the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race (3 days, 3 mountains, 60 miles), July I did the Troop Trot 39k (ok, not really a marathon, but I won!), August was the TransRockies (6 days, 120 miles, 20,000 feet of elevation gain), September I did the 6 Hours of Dauset Trails doing 6 loops in 5:06 (just shy of 30 miles…and beat all but one boy!), and October I had Atlanta 13.1 and Mystery Mountain. Who knows how many small races I also had peppered in along the way plus all my training.
I came off of the TransRockies feeling good but searching for the next big thing. Then I did Dauset Trails where I had a totally unexpected win and great day. That lead to over confidence which lead to last week’s PR at the Atlanta 13.1 Marathon. My body was pretty mad following the 13.1. You see, it can run long and slow all day long, but short and fast does not agree. My back was hurting, and my legs were crampy and I was feeling a hot mess. Following a glorious 14 days of detoxing, constant yoga, healthy eating, weight loss, and sanity in early September (If you’re in Atlanta try out the seasonal detoxes at Kashi, they are awesome!), I had about 14 days of no yoga, bad eating, weight gain, and insanity…and about a month of not taking any of my many supplements …then running the 13.1. So I scheduled a massage for Thursday evening to set all right in the world. However, we were in trial and I missed my appointment for the closing. Then, my beloved Courtney of Sequoia Massage went on vacation for the weekend (how dare he?!)! Eeeeek! I thought about going to someone else, but I decided to just suck it up.
Saturday I went to a yoga class and that provided some relief. Afterwards I went to the office to do some work then home to pack up my stuff. Pooky was out of town again and so I was flying solo.
I packed my provisions and headed up to Chatsworth, Ga to the lovely Super 8. On my way there I passed through so many small towns and counties that I had never heard of….each town had a Dollar General and several Baptist Churches. The upside was that they had a great country music channel, so I rocked out and especially enjoyed cruising the crazy windy road up the mountain to packet pickup.
I made it up to packet pickup and they had all sorts of swag, and moonpies, and fun GUTS stuff for purchase. I couldn’t help myself and decided to partake in a lovely GUTS tie dye. Awesomeness.
On the way back down the mountain I stopped and took some pictures of the beautiful view, but the pictures didn’t come out so beautiful.
I checked into the Super 8 which actually wasn’t bad. I walked to the gas station across the street to get water and was super excited to check out the ice cream shop next door. Too bad the town closes up at 7:30 p.m. Oh well, next time Chatsworth.
I went back to my room, laid out my clothes and my swag and photographed them for you all because I know you care. Also I wanted everything ready to go for the morning. I then heated up the food I brought for myself and settled in for some TV. Interestingly, the Super 8 did have about 3 different Fox News Channels, but I was unable to find MSNBC. I settled for USA’s re-runs of Modern Family.
I tossed and turned through the night and didn’t get much sleep at all. Don’t know what the major malfunction was. My alarm went off and I was already up. Went through the usual routine and was once again thankful for remembering babywipes. Super 8 toilet paper is just not forgiving.
So I go to get dressed and put on my sports bra. The only one I brought. And its one of those Moving Comfort ones with the two hook and eyes on the back. And I can’t get one hook hooked. Arrrggh. And I try. And I try. And I try. And I finally take it off to investigate. Here the hook is broken!!!! Nooooooo!!!! I am in the middle of Chatsworth 30 minutes from go time with no sports bra and a loosey goosey tank top to wear? Oh dear.
So I go on to gnaw on this hook and twist it and fuss with it until I get it where it can hang on at least a little. I get the thing closed and can finally move on with the rest of my life.
I go out to pack up my car and go check out and pour hot water on my to-go oatmeal cup. On my way past cars to the front desk area, there are all these people gathered around an SUV. I hear some murmuring and then I hear lots of “meowwwing”. What the heck? Then I go inside the office and am fixing my oatmeal. And these two kids go to the desk and try to explain to the clerk that there is a cat stuck in the engine of an SUV and that they need to figure out who owns the SUV so they can tell them and try to get the cat out. What a fiasco. I wonder what became of the cat?
So I head on out to my car, crank up the good country station I found and have a grand old time driving up the windy mountain road. Trail races are really the only time I get to do some fun driving so I always take advantage. I got to the race, parked, immediately went to the bathroom and meandered towards the start. I spotted Alex and we had some chit chat. In fact, so much chit chat that I forgot to make my usual second and third bathroom trips. And so much chit chat that we didn’t realize the race was starting until this insanely loud gun (or something) was fired, scaring the crap at us and letting us take off.
Alex was certain that I would finish well ahead of him. I told him I had a tough week, was tired and sore and had no idea how this would play out. I said I was hoping to finish under 6:30 but really I wanted to finish under 6 hours. Ever the optimist. Well, at least when it comes to racing 😉
So we started along the trail, talking with some others Alex knew and I felt pretty good. Of course I had to pee within the first few minutes, but I just ignored it. I had one quick fall but bounced right back up. Not bad for me.
However, about three miles in or so, when I stopped to mess with a packet of Island Boost (decided to try something new, I’m on the fence, more later) I lost Alex and the pack by a little. I restarted again and wasn’t too far behind. However I started feeling wretched and got further and further behind. For the first time in a long time, I just wasn’t enjoying this race. Eeeeek. It’s the end of the world as I know it.
About mile 6 or 7 I finally lose Alex and the gang completely, and I’m pissed that I’m moving so slow. Ugh. What is going on here? The race is legendary for being tough and the tough stuff hasn’t even happened yet. Sheesh. I don’t know what it is… perhaps it’s all the crazy racing mentioned in the second paragraph of this post. Maybe I’ve just had too much of a good thing. Maybe I just overloaded my body and mind on trail racing. Could it be? At this point I’m freaking out and think that I may make this my very first DNF (“did not finish.”). There was both a 12 mile and marathon, so I tell myself I will drop at the 12 mile split and I put my head down and meander on.
At some point around this time I finally give in and pee. Using the skills so artfully taught to me by my dear partner Heather during the TransRockies, I pull off the trail behind some large log and squat down for sweet relief. Except that I squat right into a jagger bush. Uh, for you that don’t speak Pittsburgh-ese, I essentially sat in a bunch of thorns. Awesome! I even drew blood on one finger and one calf. At least my unmentionables stayed unscathed. However, a group of dudes comes by right as I am standing to pull my pants up. Super awkward. But that’s my life.
When I get to mile 11 which is where the 12 milers go on to the finish and the marathoners go up a humongous set of hills known as the “Power Lines,” I get my second wind. I don’t hate the race anymore and am starting to feel the groove. I decide that I am enjoying this, eat a bunch of junk at the aid station, and march on right up the power lines. The power lines are steep but not horrible. Of course I believe this comes from a place of powering up far worse things for six days in the Rockies and haven’t yet forgotten it. Part way up there is a Barbie head which scares the sh*t out of me! But I loved it. I get to the top and there are the “Beer Fairies” sitting there. I decline the beers but thank them and they note that I look way too happy for having just climbed the power lines. I tell them it’s a beautiful day, I’m on the trail, and I’m still moving forward on both feet, so how bad can it be? They agree and I realize I have officially turned my frown upside and am back in the game.
I feel great and am all smiles at the top. However the yin to the yang of the uphill is this super long, super terrible steep crumbly rocky dirty downhill. This thing was so wretched and horrible and I’m so clumbsy on the downhill that I took it nice and easy to avoid falling. Then I get passed by like 20 people going downhill and its like the TransRockies all over again! Grrrrr!!!! I hate downhill. There, I said it.
I get to the aid station at mile 13.3 and don’t feel all that bad. I catch up to some people I recognize, and a guy tells me that we’re only a little over three hours in so there’s still hope for a 6-6:30. This lifts my spirits. And on I go! Although at this point I realize that my hands feel swelled up just like my partner’s were at the TransRockies. So although this is annoying, it amuses me and reminds me of Heather waving her hands madly above her head throughout the race and I do the same and get a good laugh in to myself.
After a while this old man comes up and tells me that around mile 19 there is a 1.3 mile climb that goes up 1300 feet. As I typically never look at the elevation map before a race, or even the course really, this came as a surprise to me. But I think that this should be no problem after all the power climbing up crazy climbs at the TransRockies. I get to an aid station right around mile 19 and I feast and feast. At this point I have decided that I am going so slow that I might as well enjoy myself and I’m stuffing my face at every aid station more like I’m running a 100 miler than a marathon. I tucked pretzels and chips and bananas and gummy bears into my vest pockets like I was a squirrel hiding nuts for the winter (do squirrels hide nuts for the winter?)…It was just like me and Heather’s picnic breaks during the TransRockies. Just without the days of mileage…and I was alone so that wasn’t quite as fun either.
I leave the aid station and I have to pee – again. I look and look for cover but there is none to be find so I just cop a squat in the middle of the trail. To hell with it. Luckily no one caught me on this and luckily there were no thorns to be found.
About Mile 22 or so I got another wind and really started to enjoy the thing. Somewhere around Mile 23 I caught up with Alex and that made me feel vindicated like I hadn’t actually ran all that slow thank goodness. Alex waived me by so I trucked it on in as by Mile 23 I was finally feeling really good and ready to run. It only took me six damn hours.
Anyways, it took me 6:14 to run the damn thing! Terrible! But between the peeing, the thorns, the lack of a massage, the tiredness, the hills, it wasn’t bad. Not bad at all. Plus as with all my runs, if I’m not feeling it at the beginning I was feeling it by the end….this one just took a little longer.
But I think I realized that I may have been on to too much of a good thing. So I enjoyed a nice week of no workouts save for a yoga class and a couple walks so that I could rest up for my big 5k “A” race next week…but more on that next time!
Happy Trails guys 😉