Last year I did the Cumberland Trail 50K http://www.cumberlandtrailraces.com/CumberlandTrail50k/HOME.html and fell in love with the beautiful trails up there. I swore I'd do it again this year... so I registered for the race.
Trey and I went up the night before and stayed in Knoxville so we could visit with our friends Michelle and Alan. We would wake early the next morning to drive up to the race site some 30-40 minutes away. After the race we would head up to the Smokies for some hiking adventures and family time.
The race starts in the dark and a headlamp is required for the first 40 minutes or so. I started up front with Sarah Woerner and Sally Brooking thinking I would hang onto them for a bit and hopefully on the climb that would come all too soon. We ran a good pace all the way to the base of the climb and then when we started going up.... I lost sight of them pretty quickly. I couldn't understand what was wrong with me... I had no energy, my heels were jacked up again and my overall attitude was poor. The climb is LONG and HARD and STEEP and the more elevation I gained... the slower I got. I decided at the 3rd aid station that was it for me and pulled myself out of the race. Obviously... not my day and my body was trying to tell me something.
Once arriving to the 3rd aid station I told volunteers I was quiting the race. Most of them thought I was kidding, but it didn't take them long to figure out that I wasn't kidding at all. Susan Donnelly (the race director and multiple 100 mile finisher) told me I could ride around with her and eventually we'd make our way back to the finish. This was fine with me since Trey and Xian were off to spot Elk and nowhere near the race site.
Susan and I drove from aid station to aid station along the course and it allowed me to see some of my friends running the race. It was actually fun spectating for once! I saw Sarah tearing up the course and she would eventually take the lead for a 1st place female finish. Other friends along the course were Mark Mason, Sal Coll and Wendy Oates. Eventually we made our way back to the finish where I called Trey to come get me. I was able to see the first 3 men come in before Trey got there. Once Trey arrived.... we got on the road and headed for our next adventure... The Great Smoky Mountains.