In my head, I'd chalked this race up to be 10 miles of pine needle-covered smooth, easy trails. Maybe some hills, a root here and there, but otherwise, fast running. I was going to float through the woods like a woodland nymph and finish in a sturdy, slow-girl 3:00.
I got literally none of those things right. The terrain was consistent, I'll give it that, but it was almost non-stop roots and plenty of rocks. It was the kind of trail where you hear that there's lots of beauty around you but you never see it because you don't dare look up for fear of tripping or stepping on the wrong thing. There were some fast areas where you could at least look ahead 15 feet as you ran rather than every little step, and those areas you could book it pretty well and gain some ground.
(For pics of the trail, see Running Myself into a Coma blog from his photos last year. Though I don't remember that much open space. It felt like we were in deep woods 95% of the time. Maybe the trail changed some this year?)
I've never seen so much falling in a race before. Everyone in our group fell at least once, sometimes twice, except for me. I chose to step poorly a couple of times and twist my ankle instead. Feels okay after some ice, rest, and a good night's sleep though, so it was only a minor annoyance.
Oh, and the hills? Okay, they were there but they weren't all killers. However, there was one late in the race that felt like climbing stars. The legs were burning, we were huffing and puffing. Oh it was a doozie.
As usual, the aid stations were fantastic, as they always are at an Endurance Buzz event, and really well placed for this distance. First one was ~3 in, and the next was ~7 in, so even though there was a 4-mile gap in the middle, those are the comfortable miles (runnerly speaking... you're warmed up but not too exhausted yet). Debbie and Tina, my running companions, wanted to keep moving, so we blew through the stations pretty fast, which was fine by me. I had my Payday bars on me, too, but only ended up eating one.
We ended up finishing much faster than we expected. We'd walked a lot, it seemed, but I guess the areas where we could run, we ran pretty darn fast, which I don't think I would have done on my own, so I appreciated the pushed pace. We all came in right at 2:30-2:31, a good 30 minutes faster than I'd predicted, so that was fantastic. That just shows how much more difficult Possum Kingdom was. Only 2 more miles but took 52 minutes longer! Plus it was a bit warmer and more sun exposure in PK, which added to the fatigue.
I actually felt great after this one. Tons of energy at the end, but my legs were toast from the hills. I can certainly see the appeal of the 20 mile distance. I think the absolutely beautiful cool, breezy weather was fooling me a little, though. If it had been muggy and warm, it might have been just as exhausting as PK was and I would have sworn off such distances past March.
Rosie came with me to volunteer at one of the aid stations, but I drove this time, and I actually felt fine coming home, which I was very worried about after I was a zombie post-PK. I even had the energy to change clothes and eat a couple of tacos before we left the park. No nausea or any of that stuff I had from PK. I took an Endurolyte tablet at the second aid station, and I think that helped a lot, along with drinking a little Heed. I got plenty of fluid at PK, but not enough electrolytes for how much I was sweating.
Slowly but surely, I'm figuring this stuff out, maybe? Or maybe I just got lucky. Either way, that's the last one for a while. I'll be volunteering at Cedar Ridge in July, and might do the same at Rough Creek, both of which will be too hot for my taste, thank you very much, but I can earn free race entries by volunteering. I still want to give Isle Du Bois a go, and I'd be happy to do PK and WP again.
If I had any complaints about the race, starting with the 7k runners was tough. The course was very crowded the first 3 miles until they split off. But that's literally my only gripe. Very minor. The finish line area was wonderful. Very cozy, and as usual, I choked up when I crossed and Dave handed me my bottle of honey. :) Some day I'll be not choked up enough to ask him if he's Canadian. He definitely says "aboat." <3
Anyway, today I'm sore. My upper back and calves and feet are very achy, but I'm headed out to the Rangers/Jays game later, so I'll count all that walking as a recovery effort. Also, beer. Beer good. Go Jays!