Wee-Chi-Tah Half-Marathon Trail Race
Let’s continue the story from yesterday shall we? In case you missed it here is the recap of the Hotter N Hell Hundred Bike Race.
After the bike ride we showered, had dinner and back to bed early again as we needed to get up for a half-marathon trail race. Makes total sense doesn’t it? When the alarm went off I don’t think Jeff, nor I, moved. What in God’s name were we thinking? Totally spent and dehydrated we pushed our way to the car while Bob hung back as he wasn’t running and was going to head back to Austin.
Before I tell you about the race let me just say that I have NEVER done a trail race. Karen has and has told me that they are just different and you run them slower. I thought great….run slower so more of a recovery run. Yeah, not so much. You start out and everybody is gung-ho and you go with the flow out of the gate. Jeff was gone in seconds and I was caught behind other athletes, which was not a bad thing. I didn’t know what to expect so going out a bit slow was fine by me. That is until the first mile was done, my watch beeped and I saw: 8:48. What was I thinking? If those people were not in front of me I probably would have run a rather idiotic 7 minute mile. Holy hell this is going to be hard was my second thought.
I ran and with every step my quads screamed, then my calf, then my hamstring. Even my arms and neck were yelling at me to stop and lay down. I hammered on and eventually wound up with two guys behind me and we were chatting while running single track. These guys were pushing me otherwise I don’t know if I would have kept on. We were together for about 2-3 miles but on the trail that seems like an eternity of having guys breathing down your neck. At once you want to yell at them to pass you but at the same time you are happy to have partners because you have no clue where you are or where you are going. The small chit-chat that last 20-3o seconds and then stops for minutes helps pass the time.
Now, this trail racing stuff is HARD. You are going up and down repeatedly. You are jumping over roots and rocks. Avoiding getting hit in the face by twigs. You have to be on your game. At one point we went through a series of ups and down that while only 1/4 mile in length kicked my ass. I reached the top of one of the dunes and stopped dead in my tracks. One of the two guys, who had resorted to calling me Jeep because of my shirt yelled out: C’mon Jeep you cannot stop now. You are my pacer. I said alright let’s do this and I ran not 100 feet, not 10 feet but one foot before I never saw him again. I just could not keep up the pace but I was determined not to walk. He had given me the inspiration to run the entire race. This was at mile 6 1/4 (yes, that is what the mile marker said) and I knew that I had about 1 hour and 10 minutes to go. Let’s do this.
At one point you go over a suspension bridge that sways and rocks and I fell into the fence three times because I did not have the leg strength to hold myself up. Once past that you run up a cliff and a spectator yelled: #472 looking strong. I replied with: You are not a very good liar. I was done until we crossed a stream and the cold water on my feet made me want to stop and lay down. One of the volunteers must have seen my face and said only one more mile to go. I heard this and started running, then I heard ‘go you can get in under 2 hours.’ WHAT? I huffed and I puffed and I climbed the last hill then crossed the finish line and hit my stop button at 2:00:00. HOLY SH*T are you kidding me? Looking to go 2:30 and I beat that by 30 minutes. I was spent. I could not stand at the finish line and the idea of doing anything other than involuntary breathing was impossible.
Caught up with Jeff afterwards and he said that was the hardest trail race he had ever done. Hands down. I don’t know if I’ll go trail running anytime soon but to put down a 2 hour run on that course made my day beyond belief. We grabbed some bananas, oranges and water then headed off to the car where I proceeded wrap a towel around my waist and strip in the parking lot because I just did not care anymore. I was spent and tired and hungry and dirty. In other words I was done.
Off to the Motel 6 for a quick shower, then out for breakfast and a two-hour ride back home. All in a good day’s work to say the least.
This endurance weekend was a big boost of confidence for the rest of 2013 and truly for what lays ahead in 2014. If my body can react to a trail run and finish in 2 hours after pouring myself over my handlebars the day before in a 100 mile race then I truly believe that a 5:30-5:45 bike split with a 3:45 run split at an Ironman next year is well within reach. Now to work on my swim anxiety.