Two weeks before the race I went up to the Run on the Sly course for a 12 mile run. Unfortunately, I chose to run an out and back trail instead of a loop. This meant I only ran the first 6 miles of the course thinking that I would know most of the course for race day. I should have run the whole thing.
The 12 mile run was the last long run before my race. I made sure to use the next 2 weeks to taper. During my taper phase, I still worked out, but my mileage was reduced. My last workout was a 1 mile, stretch the legs out jog the day before the race. The reason I taper is so that I feel completely rested for race day both physically and mentally.
I woke up at 5:45 to get ready for the race. I had laid everything out the night before. I packed my bag with a towel for after the race and a banana in case I got hungry before the race. On the way out, I grabbed a sweatshirt since the mornings can be a little cool and I knew the temperature would be a bit cooler at the race’s elevation. By 6:30, I had eaten breakfast, dressed and I was out the door. I had about a 45 minute drive to where I would catch the shuttle that would then drop me off at the start area.
I don’t get out to see the sunrise very often.
Arriving at the start, I was happy to actually be shivering a bit. I knew the cool air wouldn’t last with a predicted 100+ degree day. I was disappointed to see and smell the smoky air from a nearby fire. I wondered if the air quality would affect my run. I checked out the outhouses a few times and started my 1 mile warm up. I wanted my hamstrings to be ready for the steep .5 mile climb that started the race.
The half marathoners and 12kers started together. I spent a few minutes checking out everyone’s bib color. Yes, I like to know who is running what and who is going to be my competitor, or at least guess. That way when a 12ker goes by me, I don’t have to worry. I saw a familiar face and knew that she was going to give me a run for my money. The countdown began and I was ready. Off we went.
The first few miles were pretty uneventful. I took the .5 mile climb slow and steady. I didn’t want to use too much energy. The trail was a bit dusty and I was grateful that the top runners took off fast and left a few of us trailing behind, but not breathing their dust.
By mile 2, I knew that there were three women in front of me: 1 12ker, 1 half marathoner and 1 unknown. I kept thinking, “Where are the rest of the women? Did I start out too fast? Do they know something that I don’t know about this trail?” I was a little concerned and tried hard to shake it from my mind.
As you can see, we started climbing again at mile 3. It was a tough climb and I knew that I would use part of it to fuel. At 30 minutes I power walked for just enough time to use a gel and drink some water. Before too long, I was at the top of the first big climb and the first aid station. I didn’t need to stop for anything, so I just kept on going. At this point, I passed one of the gals. I spoke encouraging words to her and went on my way.
By the beginning of the descent I could feel hear footsteps along side of me. “Please be a guy….” Is what I was thinking. No luck! It was another woman. “Darn!” She started talking to me and I was thinking, “I don’t usually talk when I race.” But then I erased that thought and started talking with her. She was super nice and I was glad that we chatted. I learned that she was clearly much stronger of an athlete than I was. We passed by the second aid station and were told that we were the 2nd and 3rd woman.
We hit the bottom of the descent and ran through a pocket of cool air. I enjoyed the flat terrain for the few minutes before the next hill. We hit that hill and I saw my competitor take off and widen the gap between us (She ended up winning). Instantly, my calves started to cramp and became rock hard. I decided to take a walking break.
I tried to run again and was only able to jog a few minutes before needing another walking break. I walked, jogged for the next mile. This was a big climb and I had to work hard. Another gal passed me. “Darn!” I watched her run up the hill like it was nothing before she disappeared. I wished I had that energy. I’m not sure what happened. I wondered if I bonked. Am I out of energy? I’m only 11 miles into a 13.9 mile race.
It flattened out at the top of the climb. Oh, good! Once again I heard someone behind me. She called out, “How are you doing?” I told her that I was having a hard time. As she ran along side of me, I looked over and saw the familiar face from the start. I asked her if she was Mo Bartley. Sure enough she was! I explained that a few weeks ago my husband met her out on an Auburn Trail. She was leading a running group. My husband was impressed by her and told me to look her up. I had actually already done that since I raced against her in a different race and thought I needed to know who she was. Mind you, she is an awesome, amazing athlete and at 58 years old, she can still kick my butt! She ran with me and we had a nice chat. When we hit a steep downhill, she was off.
After the race, I asked Mo if she’d take a pic with me. She is such an inspiration!
I was so glad to be done with the climbing! That second hill was part of the course that I missed when I previewed it. I knew it was there based on the elevation map, but I didn’t know what it was like. For the record, it was a very long climb! I still had a few miles to go, but they weren’t too tough. I dug deep and I was able to get to the last .5 mile where I coasted down the hill that we had originally climbed!
That was a tough race! We climbed a lot……..1800 ft. I worked hard and finished hard. I’m glad I met and chatted with 2 great runners.
Yep! 1800 feet of climbing!!!!
I can’t say I felt great the whole race, but I can’t complain about the results of the race.
I ended up being 20th overall, 5th woman, and 2nd in my age group.
I’m still trying to figure out why I cramped and felt like I was out of steam. I think it’s time to start experimenting with electrolytes and/or salt tablets.
Do you use electrolytes and/or salt tablets? In what form (liquid, tablets, gels)?
The age groups were adjusted since race day. The 10 year age groups were split into 2 five year age groups. This meant places were reassigned. I ended up being 1st female in the 40-45 age group! Woo hoo!!!!!