Saturday Trey and I lined up for the Sweet H20 50K Trail Race just below Atlanta, Ga. http://www.sweeth20races.com/ The day brought some grueling heat along with a very challenging course. I've written a race report below.
(Photo of Trey at the start line) We started the race on a paved road that seemingly went for over a mile. Running on pavement is never something I choose to do in trail shoes, but I know it was set-up this way to thin things out and let each individual settle into their own pace before dropping onto the single track trail. The front end of the course wasn't too bad. At least... I don't remember it being too bad. I was cruising along at a very comfortable pace until we hit a series of powerline trails that looked much like roller coasters! Up, down, up, down, up, down!! There must have been at least 6-8 of these! This part of the course broke down many runners. I ran as much of this as I could and kept things positive. Shortly after this Trey and I decided to go our separate ways. I just kept plugging along and found myself running with some guys that I had met at other trail events in the southeast. I remember telling a guy named Jeff that I was just going to run the best I could and see what happened.... and also explained to him that I had run a trail marathon the week before. He also... had done a race the weekend before. I swear.... we trail runners are just plain sick! Not long after this I got a little burst of energy and was able to increase pace a bit.
(Photo of the creek)
I was on my own for a while and found myself delirious the second time around on the powerline trails! "Just keep going... Just keep going".... I would say to myself and I ended up running more of the powerline that I thought possible! The aid station at the top of these powerlines was a sight for sore eyes! I refilled my hydration pack, drank some gatorade and took some ice and kept trucking. This must have given me a new burst of energy as I was able to run a decent pace again. In fact... I passed a group of 4-5 guys on one of the descents! Time seemed to go by fairly quickly after this... UNTIL mile 20. Mile 20 was the creek crossing. Only 1 person at a time was allowed to cross. My wait to get across the creek was 8-10mins. Once across... I found my running legs again and was able to overtake another couple of runners.
(Photo of a snake skin around mile 29... possibly a rattlesnake skin. There were signs warning of them along the course)
At Mile 29 I found myself sick to my stomach and even thought I was gong to puke! Somehow... I was able to pull it together and talk myself out of throwing up and kept going. It was like a battle to tell my body to keep going. Every time I wanted to stop and walk I would tell myself "NO... you are going to break 6 hours you wuss!".
Sure enough the finish line was close and I knew I could break 6 hours. I rolled in at 5:57. A very respectable time on a tough course with temperatures in the low 90's! I was 9th overall female in a group of women who were tough as nails!... And a new PR for me on 50K distance. Trey rolled in around 6:43 and this was also a good time considering he had only run 20miles for the month leading up to this race.
(Photo of Sal and I after the race)
I would rate this course as tougher than Mtn Mist 50K... If anyone needs a comparison. Not sure that it is harder than Cheaha 50k, but it ranks up there with some of the harder races in the southeast.