So, I changed my mind about doing the trail race last Saturday. I was worried it might rain for the 10k trail race on the 14th and it would end up a road race. So Saturday morning I made the 1.5 hour trek to Greenville, SC for the Paris Mountain 11k Trail Run.
I woke up at 4:00 am even though the alarm was set for 4:45. At least that gave me time to eat, drink some water, and get in my morning sun salutations. The drinking of water caught up with me as soon as I hit the highway. Seriously, not cool! I was hoping to make it to the welcome center rest stop just over the boarder in South Carolina but I couldn't make it. I found a gas station at the first SC exit and made a mad rush inside. Ah, much better. Sadly 20 mins to go and I'm starting to feel it again but manage to make it to Paris Mountain and bee line it to the potties. Clearly the extra time to drink water in the morning was a bad idea.
It was a cold morning and waiting for the start was going freeze me to death. I tried to keep moving to stay warm but my feet started to go numb anyway. The race finally started and my numb feet went on their way. I watched as lots of people went flying past me. I just smiled and mentally told them that I'd see them again later.
We started on the park road for about a quarter mile then made our way to a wide single track. Almost immediately I needed to start passing people, especially down hill. At about half a mile I'm finally not freezing to death and my lips are warming up but the feet still feel numb. I took my long sleeve shirt off in mile 2 and tied it on my waist. The gloves stayed on until mile three. Once the gloves were removed the temperature was perfect for running. Thank goodness for the big pockets on my running skirt so I could tuck my gloves in one and forget about them.
In mile two I'm thinking how gentle the trails are compared to the ones I do at home. I do know that there is a climb to the top of the mountain but I don't know when and how tough it will be. At the end of mile two I start to encounter rocky areas in the trail that are not runnable. It turns into a line of people working their way over the rocks. The space for running between the rocky areas gets smaller with each rocky area passed. The ascent to the top begins with trails that have very little room for error, it's mostly straight down hill to the stream if you mess up. We cross over the stream a few times. Some of the trail is basically rock steps, or root steps. If the trail isn't rocky it's too steep or your legs or too tired to run when the footing is good. I finally get near the top but have to dig deep to find the power in my legs to get back to running. At the top of the Mountain is the one aid station before the descent to the bottom.
The other side of the mountain is a huge relief. Lots of fast easy down hill with little roots or rocks to worry about. I catch up with another female runner and we do some chatting. She's a Marathon Maniac working on running all 50 states, she's up to 38 and she's planning on doing the Sears Tower Stair run. What an inspiration! Around mile 4 she takes a walk break and we say goodbye.
There were some awesome steep and twisty descents after mile 4. I got trapped behind some girls who were doing a good job blazing down them but they were just a hair slower at it than I was comfortable and it was beating up my legs to have to put on the brakes. I managed to get past one but not the other. Once the trail flattened out somewhat I stayed between the two women I had done the twisty descents with. I almost ate it on the flatter trail. I was on my way down when I flapped my arms out to the side and ran off the trail into the brush for a few strides and saved it. I was so shocked that I didn't eat it and so were the two girls I was in between!
The last mile I started to suffer. I couldn't make it up a hill without walking if it was more than a couple strides long. At one point I thought that I might be lost since I hadn't seen or heard any other runners in a while. Once I finally decided I wasn't lost I had lost my drive. My legs were shot and I had less than a quarter mile to go. As I got to the end I started to see people hanging out in the trees waiting for their friends and rooting us on. As I broke to walk up a small hill one man said, "Come on! The finish is just around that bend!" As I shuffled back to a run I replied, "If you say so." I was thrilled when I saw he was right! I ran through the shoot grabbed a water and my pair of finisher socks.
I felt so nauseous as I cooled down. The pancakes and chocolate milk looked so tasty but I waited awhile before testing them out. They were yummy but my stomach still wasn't happy with me. It took an hour or two after I got home for it to feel better.
I placed 2 out of 3 in my age group; one minute behind 1st and 30mins faster than 3rd. I was 14th out of 40 women, and 77th out of 131 overall.
My garmin stats:
Total time, distance, avg pace 1:17:43 - 6.95 miles - 11:11
lap 1) 9:54
lap 2) 10:22
lap 3) 16:28 (the mountain goat climb to the top of the mountain)
lap 4) 9:37
lap 5) 11:16
lap 6) 10:17
lap 7) 9:46
I am so pleased with my performance over such a tough course. I had so much fun and loved the challenge and the people. I will definitely be back for the 15k in May and I will be ready for that climb!