Ascent: 3361 meters/
There is something special about racing the trails in your own backyard. Often you don't have to set your alarm for quite as early, but for this race that was not the case. The 5 am start meant that I woke with the French bread makers at 3 am. Yup. It brought me back to the middle of the night feedings when the boys were babies, however with night feedings you could always go back to sleep.
We were looking at running in 2hrs of darkness but my Petzl Ultra belt lit the way for me (as well as those runners who were in front.) Most people raced with Petzl tikkas but I wanted to be sure to have a good path as the course was super technical, riddled with roots, rocks and pine needles then in sections scrambling up slabs and across streams. The evening thunderstorm the night prior gave the whole course an additional slickness which was a real challenge. I took a couple nasty diggers, pushing the envelope a bit too much on the downhill, one while crossing a stream and slipping on a slick rock. The worst crash was when I fell into a "cascade" small waterfall in a stream. I felt a firm hand on my arm pulling me up out of the river. I later learned that this kind souls' name was Lionel. Other runners stampeded by like a herd of wildebeests. For a moment I thought I was done in for the race, smashing up my knee and rolling my ankle but after a few minutes and a good adrenyline rush, I forged on.
It is amazing how much concentration it takes to run downhill. You really have to train your muscles and mind, focusing on having "soft" knees and visualizing stable footing, engaging your core muscles for support. If you loose concentration for even a second, you could be toast. Needless to say this course had 11, 620 feet of descent. Yes, the thighs were screaming at the end and still are as I write this race report.
Somewhere along the course I looked at my watch at 4hrs and thought, hmm if I was doing a marathon I would be finished by now. I was almost half way through this one. I managed to fuel efficiently with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuum combined with the occasional blueberry pompegranate Gu Chomps; Endurolytes and Sport legs helped with electrolyte loss and cramping- though my legs did threaten to cramp a few times, and I just tried to visualize them being long and light. I tried to be efficient as well at the aid stations and take the time I needed to refill my Nathan water carrier and my bottle for Perpetuum. I went with the multi hour bottle of Perpetuum which would last 4 hrs. The Nathan Women's Intensity running vest was awesome. Super light- carried what I needed and so comfortable!
Managing your digestion and blatter is always a challenge on a long course. That sounds crazy but true. When you are out there for 9 hrs you have to pee at some point or else you are dehydrated and could suffer in other ways. I was pleased that I managed to pee 3 times on the course, trying to discretely find a large boulder or tree to duck behind. I was a little short on water as I did not fill up as I should have at the 2nd aid station. I took some water from a fast running stream up high..and did not treat it. This would be a huge taboo in my book of outdoor education and hopefully the giardia microbes will not come to haunt me in 10 days!
While filling up with water, I managed to drop my Ipod shuffle in the stream; if any of you were wondering....they are somewhat waterproof....and it managed to keep me movin' through the remainder of the course. I would put songs that got me going on repeat...maybe even 4 times up a big hill. It really helped and I did not have listen to the sloshing of the water in the pack or the rustling of the number on my shirt. I love that mini! Thanks WCC! It keeps me movin' and groovin' especially on the long runs.
The weather was actually a perfect temperature. I was never too cold or too hot. In the morning it drizzled lightly with rain to make it even more interesting, rain and darkness, but it was quite refreshing. I had Skins Capri's and also Skin's arm bands. The arm bands were great as I could just slide them down when I got hot or pull them up when cooling off. I had a Wild Roses technical tee shirt with a handy zip pocket in the rear for gels etc. Stashed in my Nathan Intensity pack I had a super lightweight Wild Roses wind proof, lightweight gloves and a Buff. On my feet I had Asics 2130 Trail shoes and Smartwool Womens Phd Trail running crews. On my wrist I had a Suunto T6c to help monitor HR and ascent. Leki lightweight Carbon poles to get me up and down the hills. And of course a Bondi Band to keep the hair back and sweat away!
I survived, barely, the last big descent, almost 6,000 feet down steady...My thighs were screaming and I was cursing expletives, wishing I had my skis and and remembering why I love ski mountaineering. The women who came in 2nd came flying down past me like a gazelle. I was slightly humbled that I had been in front of her until this point 7hrs on the course. I made it down to the aid station to refuel and was happy to start up the last climb of 1800 feet and then a nice friendly downhill finish. I finished at my goal of 9 hours, placing 10th overall for women, 4th for my age category.
Here were my cheerleaders at the end! They finished strong with me around the lake!