I decided to jump into this race a few days beforehand, and I hadn’t run 10+ miles in…let’s say over a year, though it may well be closer to two. Needless to say, I didn’t have high expectations, but I did think I could at least come close to my finish time from 2 years ago (2:27:03).
I wrote a race recap in 2016, and it has a decent description of the course, so I’ll just jump right into the recap using the same “race sections” as last time. Oh, and the previous recap also has a lot more pictures. This time I have two.
Start – mile 3.7
I started a bit fast, as the first mile is downhill and I was hoping to get to a place where I wouldn’t end up constantly leapfrogging other runners once we got to the trail. When my watch showed 9:30 for the first mile, I knew it was a little too fast. Sure enough, people started passing me once we headed uphill during the second mile. That wasn’t one of my better strategies.
At the first aid station, I accidentally grabbed a cup of vanilla-flavored Hammer instead of water. It was….not good. But at least drinkable. Then we headed onto the trail. The rest of this section was uneventful except for the stream crossings. A line of people was waiting to cross when I got to the first crossing – apparently we all (wrongly) thought we could find a dry way across even though we just watched several people ahead of us fail at just that. At the second stream crossing there was no chance. I just splashed across.
Miles 3.7 – 7
Shortly after we started up the steep uphill section, we got into mud. So much mud. Deep, slippery mud. In a few places there was even a small stream of water running down the trail. I just focused on hiking at a steady pace. When I finally got to the top, the downhill section was thankfully dry and runnable.
After that, I was able to settle into a steady effort during the next segment. (My previous recap describes it as flat/uphill, but it definitely has some downhills also. Maybe it’s rolling hills?) The second water station had a line of people handing out full cups of water, then a person at the end with a water jug to refill the cup you just emptied. Brilliant! Especially since I drained my water bottle during the muddy uphill.
Mile 7 – finish
Downhill! Yay! Downhill! My legs were actually pretty dead by this point, but I managed to keep them moving at a decent pace anyway. Then I caught my toe on a root (in a mostly smooth section of trail; those are the dangerous parts because they deceive you into thinking you don’t need to watch your feet). I went head over heels – or possibly some other inverted configuration – and scraped up my right knee and elbow. But barely any scraping or pain considering the magnitude of wipeout.
Well…I woke up two days later with an extremely sore spot on the left side of my back. Upon inspection, it was bruised and scraped. It seems I landed there and rolled to the other side, explaining the apparent lack of consequences when I first dusted myself off.
The fall shook me up a bit, so I started running a bit slower before picking up the pace to the end. I crossed the finish line in 2:32:38, just 5 minutes slower than last time. After comparing mile splits, I found that my time for the steep, muddy section (which wasn’t muddy last time) was about 5 minutes slower than last time as well. So I’m satisfied with counting that as “close to” my previous time.
What are the muddiest conditions you’ve run in?
Ever not noticed an injury until days after it happened?