I’m going to just go ahead and call it. This is officially my favorite race.
I’ve done the 25K three times now and the marathon once.
I love the course. It’s challenging but completely runnable. The race starts and finishes on a gorgeous lake (you can jump in when you finish!). The mountain laurels are in bloom and the food is AMAZING! My plate was so colorful this year. I had a veggie burger (with that yummy cooked-on-the-grill char) topped with juicy tomato, red onion, three colors of peppers, guacamole and black bean salsa. Plus fresh fruit, veggies, chips and home baked treats on the side. It’s basically a full-blown cookout.
The shirts are always nice too, with the “Run MTNS” logo. This year they had tank tops for the women, which was awesome!
Even though I knew I wanted to run this race (I always want to run this race) we waited until the Friday before to register. Originally I didn’t know how I’d be feeling after Promise Land 50k and our trip to Finland. Then there was my knee and the fact that Molly is sick again.
My knee seemed to be doing better though. I had a physical therapy appointment on Tuesday and my PT thought I should be fine to run this weekend. My neighbor said she’d be happy to check on Molly for me.
So we set our alarms for 3am and were on the road by 3:30. We scored a prime parking spot right by the starting line thanks to Brian’s small car.
It was unseasonably cool before the race. I wished I’d thought to bring a coat.
Nobody wanted to be up near the front at the starting line. There were a few fast people at the very front and then a huge empty space, and then everyone else.
I started out feeling pretty good. The first mile on the road went by quickly. As usual, there was some congestion on the single-track climb. But I felt like I managed a pretty good balance of getting around people when the trail allowed and enjoying nice little walk breaks when it didn’t.
I was pretty proud of myself for keeping a decent pace going down the other side of the mountain. People definitely still went flying by me, but I felt like I was able to let loose at least a little. Progress.
The rolling miles after the first big climb and descent were hard because I was caught in a little group that was pushing my pace faster than I was comfortable with. But it’s probably good for me. I know I’m way too conservative these days. Anyhow, even though I was not exactly comfortable, I was still feeling waaaay better than I had at this point in the race last year. I sipped on my Nuun and ate a few pieces of black liqourice that I’d brought home from Helsinki.
The day was warming up quickly. I was trying to remember the cut-off time at the first aid station. I was thinking it was an hour and a half. It wouldn’t affect me because I was only running the 25K, but the year before I had arrived at the aid station right at the cut-off. I was hoping I would be ahead of it this year, but it was getting pretty close to an hour and thirty minutes and I still wasn’t at the aid station. And then finally I was. Presumably ahead of the cut-off (I just checked and the cut-off was 1:45, not 1:30.)
I grabbed a chocolate energy gel and walked out of the aid station with Brian. We started running again but after a few minutes he said he wanted to walk. I was feeling fine, so I just kept jogging at my very slow pace. I caught and passed maybe 10 people who were walking during that 2.5 mile stretch. I ended up walking some too, toward the end of the climb.
At the aid station at the top of the mountain I took a cup of Skratch, a caramel machiato gel (Not my favorite. Now I know) and an icy washcloth. It actually had big chunks of ice stuck to it, which felt really good.
My IT band felt fine, but my right ankle was feeling a little wonky and I felt a few twinges in my knee, so I didn’t push the pace at all on this steep, rocky descent. I’m pretty sure everyone I passed on the climb passed me back on this stretch. Including Brian. I couldn’t believe how fast some of them came barreling down the hill.
I wasn’t going fast, but I kept chugging along even after the trail flattened out and then climbed a little again. I slowly passed some of the runners who had flown past me on the descent. I felt like walking, but I knew I was close to finishing under three hours which had been my goal. In the last two miles I didn’t really think I’d be able to do it, but I was determined to keep trying.
It hurt, but I was feeling pretty happy as I pushed to the finish line in 2:57:53. Thirteen seconds away from placing third in my age group.
Then I got to jump in the lake, eat delicious food and enjoy the sunshine.
My neighbor sent me a text that Molly was doing well.
For just one morning it felt like everything was okay.
- 88th out of 200 participants
- 4th out of 18 in my age group
- 30th out of 96 females
This eight year old kicked my ass.
By quite a bit.