We get there kinda early and we sit in the car for a good 10 minutes before we do anything. Who wants to get out in this mess anyway? Oh yeah.. and we have to run 10 miles in it. awesome.
Finally, nature calls and I hop out to walk around and find the porta potties. Ehh... not so bad, I tell myself. the rain wasn't as hard as I thought it was... now, my main concern was the condition of the trails. A mud-fest was not something I was looking forward to (or more accurately the extremely sore legs afterwards). I walk back to the car and Theresa had to go to the bathroom, so I walked over with her, too. On our way back to the car we met up with another friend and fellow Nashville Strider and a couple of his friends... after glaring at him and tossing out a few cuss words in his direction (he's the one that convinced Theresa to run the race and she's the one that convinced me.. so, clearly... the weather was all HIS fault) he told me which part of the Stumpjump this trail covered. (Stumpjump is a lollipop shape, you go up the stick, around the lollipop part and then back down the stick for 30something miles. This race is just the lollipop part, which, I kinda enjoyed during the 50k). So, I was psyched that I now knew what part of the trail we were running.. however I was not psyched that this meant that I would be running the rock garden (a stretch of trail that isn't trail.. it's rocks) which were bound to be slippery and more treacherous than they were back in dry October.
We started down part of the trail (which starts with a big downhill) and I was pleasantly surprised with how great of shape the trail was in. Then Theresa nicely pointed out, that by the time I got to them, they would be muddier. Touche.
As we started back to the start of the trail, a HUGE bolt of lightning struck right in front of us. We all kinda looked at each like... WTF are we doing here?
The one thing that pissed me off, was that this race started late. So, here I was... standing out in the rain (which had picked up at this point) getting drenched and convincing myself that I was indeed experiencing the preliminary symptoms of hypothermia for like 15 minutes (I got to the start 5 minutes before the race was supposed to start). SUCKY SUCK.
FINALLY we started and I was in the back of the pack (big surprise) and it felt good to finally get my legs moving.. I enjoyed the group, I started remembering why I liked trail running and was sooooooo thankful that I made a list and remembered to pack my HAT.
And then my shoe string came untied. I shimmied off to the side of the trail (single track trail the whole way) and tried to bend down to tie my shoe string. And DAMN, not even a mile in and I was already stiff as a board. I managed to tie my shoestring and hopped back in the line... even closer to the back.
We were cruising and I was careful to watch my footing and then.. about 2 miles in, my OTHER SHOE STRING CAME UNTIED. OMG. I hate shoestrings. So I hopped off the trail again and managed to bend my body enough to tie the other shoe string and for good measure, I checked on the other one. And by the time I got back on the trail... I was the last one in sight.
It's a trail race, I thought to myself.. there's gotta be some people who are walking this race (ummm... yes, I'm a dumbass, I thought people would walk this race in this weather). So I took off.
Picture stolen from Rock/Creek's facebook page. Not my legs. I shave.
And then I fell. on my right side and I got spooked. All to my left is the side of the freaking mountain. As in... one wrong step and there you go... falling off the side of the mountain, into the fog and the river below. Not a scenario I was excited about.
So, I kept running, but I definitely slowed down. No need to break an ankle or fall off a mountain.
A few minutes later, I started hearing people behind me. And finally they caught up running what seemed like a BREAKNECK speed in these conditions and the guy was all... "Hey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (seriously, it was that enthusiastic) How are you doing?" and I was all... "I'm doing great!! (enthusiastic, but not as much as him), how are you doing?" And then he said...
"I'm doing great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm the SWEEPER."
And in my head... I said... HOLYFUCKINGSHITBALLS... I'm not even to 3 miles and the sweeper's on my ass??? And not only that, but he's like the Tony Robbins of trail running. He's telling me he's going to be my cheerleader and my trainer and get me through this. Nice sentiments, dude... but I'm not your girl. I'd rather puke than spend 10 more miles with you up my ass telling me how great I look, am doing, etc. I wanted to have fun at this race... not be annoyed for 2+ hours.
So, I tried to pick it up and I felt like he's seriously running a ridiculously fast pace to be the sweeper. I mean, I wasn't even aware that there was a time limit for the race, but I started trying to haul ass and was praying that that isn't going to come back to bite me in the ass at the end.
Finally we reached the aid station (mile 3.5) and even though I figured it would be the only chance I had to have some water (the other aid station was said to be closed if the weather was bad), I took a quick drink of HEED and flew through the aid station, taking only a second to tell the other woman who was there... Ummm.. you see mister awesome over there?? Yeah, he's the sweeper.
And I was off like a bat out of hell. This part of the trail was not along the edge of the mountain and so I just tried to run as cautiously fast as I could. And I never saw the sweeper again!
I was feeling good and having fun. I really love trail running. Especially when you get a wide range of experiences... like.. getting to run some miles alone. And then some miles with other people. It's great.
Of course, I employed my favorite trail race song that never gets old... Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles. I sang it to myself for miles and miles, until finally.. at what I assume was mile 6 or so, I caught up with a group of 6 runners. They were running in a pack and I kept my distance in the back of the pack for awhile, but then some of them let me go through some of the water crossings ahead of them, because I was just plowing, stomping, and splashing my way through them... they were trying to avoid the water as much as possible. I liked the fact that the water cleaned my shoes off and gave me better traction for a little while.
No idea who this handsome gent is, but I thought it was
a great pic of the trail that I stole from facebook.
We hit a break in the forest and started walking up a jeep road. a VERY steep jeep road and at this point, I figured, I needed to take some shot blox. Even though, I had no water.. I knew I needed to keep my concentration on point for the rock garden that was surely coming up. And then at the top of the hill.. was the mile 7 aid station!!!!! At first I thought it was a mirage. But, no... I was able to wash my mouth out after the shot blox with some water. And then we started climbing...
This is probably the steepest part of the trail, BUT the good news is that we only had 3ish miles left to go, total!! At this point I started chit-chatting with the ladies around me (those shot blox make me chatty mcchatterson) and we climbed up the mountain.
It was fun. Together we made it up the mountain and got to the rock garden and I have to admit, there were times where they were walking and I wanted to run... but I mean.. at this point.. whats an extra couple of minutes to shave off of a 10 mile trail race? I decided to stick with them and we made it through the rock garden and up the hill to the finish!
I was in shock when we finished.. I mean, it didn't feel like I had just ran 10 miles. The entire race had flown by... and it was a blast. My time? 2:37:xx which makes it even more amazing that it went by so fast.. even with the miserable weather.
The first thing I wanted to do when I finished was PUT DRY CLOTHES on. I was freezing. The after of the race was definitely the worst. It took me a good hour or so to stop shivering and warm up to regular body temperature.
It was fun, though and despite the shitty weather... I think I'd do it again. The sad thing is, I can't really blame the weather too much for my shitty finish time... considering the winner set a new course record. (ugh. show off).
Sweet Gender-sized Patagonia Race Shirt!!!
Chattanooga, you may have given me bad weather... but I still love you!