Monday, December 19, 2011

Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Trail Race

This past Saturday marked my 3rd attempt at the Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Trail Race. Needless to say... I was ready to get this monkey off my back and finally finish no matter what! Previous attempts were a fail due to events leading up to the race such as an Ironman event less than a month before in 2009 and last year a 100 mile trail race and 40 mile trail race both only weeks before.

Race morning I woke early to grab a quick bite and get my gear together before heading up to Lookout Mountain. Admittedly... there was some nervousness and fear of yet another DNF and I tried to keep a positive attitude going into the event. Once I arrived to packet pick-up... I grabbed my stuff and proceeded with race morning rituals. Not long after I was greeted by Michael and Missy Emerling at my car and we talked some race day strategy since Michael and I had agreed to run the race together. Shortly there after... we spotted Wendy Oates and Cathi Cannon who also had decided to brave this beast of a race.

It was quite chilly with temperatures hovering right around 34-35 degrees on the mountain before the race start which always make for a hard decision on what exactly to wear starting out. I decided to bite the bullet and wear only my Patagonia Rock/Creek Race Team Capiliene long sleeve shirt with knickers and it proved to be a smart choice for the entire day.

The first several miles seemed easy as we kept our pace manageable and at the bottom of the mountain we encountered an overflowing Lookout Creek which forced us to slow way down due to wading through very chilly ankle deep and sometimes waist deep waters. Usually this trail runs along side the creek, but the day before we had quite a bit of rainfall and this forced the waters to run over onto the edges. A few choice words came out of our mouths on this segment and Michael and I jokingly decided that the best punishment might be to make the race director (Randy Whorton) sit in a garbage pail full of ice for about 10-15 minutes and then go for a run with the group on the next Wednesday night run so he could feel like our pain!!! After we emerged from the creek it took about 20-30 minutes to get complete feeling back in the legs and feet. Not long after this we were on our way back up the mountain where we would see Missy who was acting as our crew at mile 22.5. We arrived to this point about 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

Lula Lake was our next aid station where we would see many familiar faces such as Dawson Wheeler, Lance Steele and Mark Mason. It was nice to chat with them as we refuelled and regrouped. We also stopped to snap a nice shot of the falls while there. Not long after this Michael started mentioning that he was having some knee pain. We had some low points along the way including a segment of extensive tornado damage, but we kept moving forward until we made it to the next aid station near Nick-a-jack Road. At this point we were greeted by Missy, Trey, Sarah, Carl, Tom Sell, Angie Hughes, Doug Dooley and many others. We would see this aid station twice as there was a 4.5 mile loop that would bring us right back to it before heading back to the finish line.

We pushed off from the aid station and headed out for the 4.5 mile loop, but it was slow going for the first mile or so. Michael's knee was really bothering him on the downhills. I was becoming worried for him, but tried to stay positive and upbeat. Somewhere with about a mile to go on the loop... Michael yelped out in pain and demanded that I go on without him. He had decided that once he got back to the aid station he was out due to the knee situation. I reluctantly ran ahead without him fearing that I would not have the willpower to take on the rest of this cursed race by myself! When I came back through to the aid station.... Trey and Missy were waiting and I told Missy to be prepared for an injured Michael. Trey prodded me along with some encouraging words and I ran back across the road and into the woods for Lula Lake.

Before I knew it... I was back at the Lula Lake aid station and then off once again... this time for the finish line. I had another rough patch about a mile and a half from the power line trail and talked to a nice man from Kentucky until he finally passed me on one of the hills. Once I popped out onto the power line trail it was getting dark so I strapped on my headlamp and pushed forward. The finish line seemed forever away... though it was really close. I would run and walk until FINALLY I could hear people and see lights!!! At last.... I had made it! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

7th Female (64th Overall) in 10:58

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Race

This race is best described straight from the GUTS Pine Mountain 40 race website:

It is a 40 mile ultra marathon on the beautiful Pine Mountain Trail system of FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia. This GUTS event will test your endurance and your ankles over rocky single-track trails. The trail follows the ridge line, going up and over it for the duration. Depending on water levels, the few water crossings could be dry or ankle deep. You'll experience both pine & hardwood forests, rock outcroppings, waterfalls, and beaver ponds.

Trey and I decided that we would do this race together this year and it would be his longest trail run EVER. We drove down the the night before and stayed in Lagrange, GA which is about 20 minutes away from the park and race start.

Temperatures were much warmer than we had anticipated and we quickly ditched extra layers just before the start. It didn't take long at all to warm up and before we knew it... we were actually hot. We thoroughly enjoyed the terrain minus the miles of tornado damaged areas. The trail was in great shape, but the leaves on the trail did make things interesting a few times.

We held up nicely up until about the half way point. Things fell apart there, but we pressed on and managed to finish up with a time of 8:27 putting us at 30th and 31st overall. Placing me as 7th female. I am super proud of my hubby Trey for finishing his longest trail race EVER!!!

Sometimes it's all about finishing with a smile on your face.