|So happy to cross this finish line. Slowest race I've ever run/hiked/walked in my life. But an incredible experience unlike anything I've ever done!|
A few weeks ago, I decided to do something a little crazy. Well CRAZY is all relative. But it felt a little crazy then and it surely feels a little crazy now. A good crazy. An exhilarating crazy. The kind of crazy that makes you feel like you're really LIVING life! I signed up for my very first trail race. Not just a little one either. A 30k. The Cradle to the Grave 30k here in North Carolina. I didn't know anything about the race course. In fact, I didn't know much about trail racing period. I've done very little of it in comparison to someone that would call themselves a "trail runner". After today, I've realized a few things....about trail racing, myself, my day, and about these Appalachian runner mountain folk in Asheville, North Carolina:
- Never trust an elevation map unless you really know how to read one. Understanding the numbers on the side of the chart and not just going by how flat or hilly it looks on the screen is quite important. Scale means something on those things!
- Never trust these crazy (good crazy) Asheville runners when they talk about things being "fairly flat". They lie. Ha! Or they are so warped from running here for so long that they don't understand what their hills are really like...BRUTAL! They are some tough tough runners!
- If a runner from Asheville tells you that a course "Isn't that bad with elevation", expect VERY HILLY. If they tell you that a course has "Big Hills", trust them. Be very afraid. Run the other way.
- I have a completely new respect and understanding of what it means to be a trail runner. Wow!
- Going down steep hills with technical trails is an art in itself. I don't know how these people did it so fast. I was almost as slow going down the mountain (literally a hike for 2 miles up) as I was going up.
- These trail running women that passed me at the end are amazing!
- Running this trail race is like nothing I've EVER done with running before in my life. It was EXTREME running and would surely fall in the category of extreme sports in my opinion (but that's coming from someone that isn't into extreme sports AT ALL).
- Running a road marathon and PRing is a completely different kind of racing than it is to run 18 plus miles that involves shin deep mud, knee deep rushing water, fallen trees, roots, rocks, streams, etc. etc.
- I have never been so hungry in my life while in a race. Towards the end I walked a lot...or hiked. I was dreaming of a cold beer and a burger. Anything really. And then I found a quarter of a peanut butter sandwich in my fuel belt...HOLY MOLY! I have never been so excited to eat a piece of food in my LIFE!! Ever. I walked and ate my sandwich and soaked up all that was around me.
- Something so FREEING about not being a slave to the GARMIN and knowing that time is not what this race experience was about. At All! Time on the Garmin is of NO Concern! At least it wasn't for me. There were a few stretches of wider trail where I picked up the pace to a sub 8 mile but most of the race was single track and technical. No way that I was going to run any decent splits.
- Trail runners at this event know how to celebrate after a race...The first thing I got was a cold beer and then warm BBQ.
- Something about running through rivers, crossing logs, having your feet covered in mud, and running through pouring rain that makes you feel AMAZING and TOUGH!
- I worked muscles today that I'm pretty sure I didn't know I had....or at least I'll be certain of this tomorrow.
- Today was a humbling experience but it was also an experience that has made me feel so STRONG and ALIVE and PROUD of Myself. I'm so so glad I took this challenge and that I keep taking these opportunities to try new things in life. They are stretching me in so many new ways. YES YES YES to LIVING FULLY!
- When I woke up this morning and it was raining so incredibly hard (Um, I'm talking torrential downpour), I almost laughed at the idea of racing a trail race. But I'm so glad I did it anyway...despite the way less than idea conditions that made this already DIFFICULT course, absolutely CRAZY! There's that good crazy again.
- Thankful for a friend that I met here that has become such a good person to have in my life. Amazing how we can connect so quickly with certain people and then feel like we've had them there all along. She's the kind of friend that inspires me to be MORE of MYSELF. Especially with trying new things with running....like how she sent me up a mountain the other day for my training run. ha!
- If I do this again, I will bring more fuel and definitely take my water and Nuun again! I found that my body craved REAL food today and I will for sure pack at least another half peanut butter sandwich...it was a piece of heaven to have on the course today.
I wish that I could have taken pictures of this course today so I could share what it was like. Well, not really because that would have taken away from my experience (and my phone would have been ruined from the rain) but it really would have helped in explaining just how intense this was.
Steep inclines and declines
Root covered ground
Sounds of nature
Logs for bridges
Heavy breathing, slow climb
Slow doesn't matter
Many Moments of Solitude
Alone with Thoughts
Conversations with Myself
|So happy to have done my first ever trail race! An Amazing one to have as a first! And this Brooks Tank is officially my racing tank after wearing it for the past 4 or 5 races. I LOVE it!|
|So glad for this girl in my life! She placed second in the 5k! It was so nice to have her to celebrate and carpool with today.|
|My brand new Brooks PureGrits will never be the same again! :)|
I'm not sure when I will do another trail race but I do know that I found something NEW today (within myself and in the experience) that I'm richer for finding. Truly a LIFE moment that has made an impact. So glad that I decided to try something I've never done before...it's these things that make life extraordinary.