Yesterday’s race was amazing and it was amazing in so many different ways that I don’t even know where to start.
I was more nervous and scared before this race than I’ve been for a very long time. I really had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, but that’s what drew me to do it. I was scared enough of it that I wanted to to conquer that fear.
Trail racing is so much different than road racing. I figured it would be a little different, but it was way more different than I imagined.
Luckily I had a little head’s up from my trail running friend, Leslie, who told me that people walk in trail races and warned me it was going to take a long time. When I went to pick up my packet, Dr. Runco also warned me that the Stairway to Heaven was not just a trail running half marathon. He called it an “ultra half marathon”. He warned me it was one of the most intense trail races around, but said it was also the most rewarding. He’s a smart guy.
Here’s just another reason I was so nervous. This “warning” is on the race website.
I chose dark colors because I figured I was going to get dirty out there. It was mandatory that all runners carry water with them, so I took the plunge and got that hydration pack to be safe. I’m so glad I did. I was not going to take any chances with hydration issues.
I was so nervous the night before I didn’t sleep that well. I’m not sure what happened though because in the morning when I woke up I wasn’t really scared any more. I was just excited.
The one thing I like about small races that are close to home is an easy drive to the start.
That start was easy to find. Everything was really laid back and low key. I took my time to fumble around and try to look like I knew what I was doing before heading over to check in.
They had a couple tents and a couple port-a-potties. That was about it, but that’s all you need at small trail races.
While standing in line I asked some people about the course marking. I always have a fear I’m going to get lost out on a course. A nice lady told me it was marked really well and that there was going to be enough people out there that I would know where to go. I also asked her about snakes and she said she had never seen one out there. That made me feel a little better.
It made me feel just good enough to get a before picture. Ha.
It was a short walk to the start line.
No corrals. No big crowds. No timing chips.
Just some trail runners ready to race.
We got a few last instructions from Dr. Runco, the man behind Dirt Devil Racing.
He told us what markings to look for (plates with arrows, chalk arrows on the ground and green ribbons on trees) and gave a few last minute pointers.
The race started out pretty much how I expected it to, except there were quite a few small rocks we were running over so we really had to be careful with our steps. I was going at a pretty good pace (around a 7:45 or so) for the first two miles. I was feeling great, loving it and was thinking that it wasn’t going to be that bad.
Then we hit this hill at mile three.
That’s right. Mile 3.
It was then that I figured out this was going to be one heck of a tough course. They warned me.
I walked for a bit up the hill (as did almost everyone else).
One thing I was not really prepared for was how hard the downhill parts were.
They were rocky, steep and slippery. I guess they call that “technical”. Ha. Not only did I have to watch my steps very carefully, but holy cow they did a number on my quads.
There was a lot of single track portions mixed in with fire roads. It made the whole race fun and go by quickly because you really didn’t know what was coming up next. It was like one big exciting adventure.
At around mile 7 or so was the infamous Stairway to Heaven.
I got a little extra adrenaline at the bottom. There’s something about taking on a challenge like that that I just love.
There were a lot of times I couldn’t take pictures along the course because I was pretty much just trying not to fall on my face and was keeping an eye out for snakes, especially during the single track spots. This darn stairway really needed documentation though.
Here you go.
Yep, there was a Dirt Devil Angel cheering everyone on from the top.
The top of that stairway is where I felt this overwhelming feeling of joy. It was much needed with all of life’s happenings as of late. I thought about how freaking lucky I am to be able to do this and be outside and just work hard and move.
Not to mention the view was awesome.
I thought the climbing was done, but it wasn’t. However my picture taking was because my hands were too sweaty and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost on the way back.
There were less people around after that climb so I was looking for the course markings a bit more.
Luckily I found them and before I knew it that finish line was right there.
Wait, was that the finish line?
Ha ha. Kidding.
Instead of medals at the end of the race we got some pretty cool swag.
I really have to say, that I loved everything about my first trail race. Of course I picked one of the most difficult races around, but I’m sure this won’t be my last.
I was telling Andrew last night that this race was so different because there really wasn’t a part of me that wanted it to be over. It was like one big fun adventure I was on all by myself.
I LOVED IT!
My finish time was 2:16:11. I have no idea if I placed or if that’s even a good time for a race like this.
What I do know is that I loved everything about it- the dirt, the nerves, the hills, the adventure, the views, the people.
Thank you Dr. Runco and Dirt Devil Racing for showing my what trail racing is all about.
I will definitely be back for more.
I have so much more to learn and so many more adventures to tackle. I’m already excited.
They always have a post race party where they do awards and everything, but I had to get home for mama duties. I’ll make sure to make the party at the next race though because it sounds like a blast.
Besides of fun little roasting adventure, Mama duties yesterday included a late breakfast with the boys while attempting to read a book to them upside down
getting as many hugs as possible, and sporting my new bling around everywhere. I’m really proud of it.
Obviously I had to put my new glass to good use too last night.
Thank you Mom and Dad for the Costco margaritas.
That’s a wrap friends. my legs are not really happy with me today, but that’s no surprise. Instead of running this morning, we’re going to make some gluten free green banana bread. Isn’t that a great idea?
Have a great day!
Who has any trail racing tips or a favorite trail race to tell us about?
Who wants to come run the next one? (This one is in October.)
Do you like uphill or downhill better when hiking or running? (It’s a toss up for me.)