~on top of the world~
The race began at 8:30am...which was actually a late start compared to what I'm used to.
(It was nice to sleep in a bit.)
Race briefing was short, to the point, and only one mention of bear sightings around a carcass that was near the top of the trail.
(my fear of flying equals that of my fear of bears)
The trail started off gently rolling....across a Texas Gate or 2,
through trees, and over bridges with babbling creeks.
I decided not to look at my watch and pace for as long as I could handle it.
I ran~ 3km,
without so much as a glance down,
enjoying the fact that I was surrounded by those mountains and pine air.
My breathing space.
When I DID look down and saw only the 3km on my watch- it hit me.
I had gone only 10% of the run.
I still had 90% to go.
Then a double hit...I had never run more than 21km in my entire life-
let alone a mountain run for 29.
From there on it was a mind battle.
Not to mention the trail began to incline.
But with that incline came beauty....and it took away the thoughts of knees not wanting to lift.
By the 9km aid station....I was in good spirits and so happy to be a part of the race.
(And happy the aid station had water and oranges:)
The trail would plateau in places and open up in to views like this....
But for some reason.,.at about 11-12km?
It rushed over me- the magnitude of a mountain run.
(Maybe it was the thin air...)
The trail turned form rocks and roots-
Non-stop shale with an incline unfathomable to a flat-road runner like me.
Who's average run is about 10km.
And then I looked up.
It seemed as though the run had just begun.
And unfortunately my body thought I was almost finished.
At one point my legs cramped- from my ankles to the top of my quads.
I just stood there...unable to comprehend what was happening.
A friendly runner passing by....heading DOWN the mountain asked me kindly if I was okay.
When I mentioned off-handedly my legs were cramping and stuck in one position...she asked me when my last gel intake was.
I had forgotten the intake rule of "calories in" on a calorie burning run.
Within a few minutes of downing a gel- my legs were in motion.
Again...plodding up the never-ending shale trail.
In the photo below:
Those tiny dots on the top of the rocks?
People in my race way ahead of me.
And some of them were actually running DOWN!
I was still going up.
Talk about mind battle.
Maybe that's why the scenes like this below were positioned to the side of me.
(Kind of like distracting a crying baby with a squeaky toy.)
Although in this case....
it was calming a whining 30-something year-old with:
"eye-level with the clouds"
Have you noticed I had my camera out during parts of this run?
I only dropped it ~twice.
It was during the last 2 km up to the summit when I decided that looking like my camera and I were here for just a scenery-capture was a good idea.
It gave me a chance to catch my breath.
Someone even called me a tourist.
So much for acting like a runner.
(Bet they can't even remember what the scenery looked like...
so busy were they trying to race against their clock.;)
I finally managed to reach 14.44km and turn myself around.
Time was about 2 and 1/2 hours at this point.
Never had I run for that long in my entire life.
The run down took 1 and 1/2 hours....
which included consuming more calories at 2 aid stations,
feeling like I was in a dream,
and at one point wondering where everyone had disappeared to....
(noticing that I wasn't even scared of coming round a corner to find a bear).
Oh...and I also asked a group of mountain bikers if I could borrow one of their bikes.
No one went for the idea.
I just wanted to be able to get down.
There were times I wanted to sit.
And I also found it almost humorous that when I looked down and saw 19.9Km on my watch....
all I could say was..."Only 10km left!"
10km is my LONG run on a good day~ on flat ground.
It's amazing what you can do when you have to.
And I did.
My feet carried me up and down and off the trail.
Last year I did 16km of this course.
This year...I (literally) tackled the 29km route.
The next distance?
I'm thinking about it.
Maybe after I can walk up the stairs at home here without crawling,
I'll sign myself up for the 42km Mountain Marathon leg of this race.