Monday, April 28, 2014

The ultimate mud run

It was a Fruita kinda weekend again. Linds, Court, Kev and I ran the Fruita Trail Running Festival last year and had an amazing time. We had to do it again this year and we made it happen... and it was even better than last year. This year, both Linds and I had our husbands come along and run as well, that alone made it better... but ALSO, we were ALL there both days.

Courtney had signed up for the double marathon and half marathon, Kevin had marathon and half on his schedule and I did too. The rest of the crew was signed up for the half marathon. Regardless, the people running on Sunday only, were there to see us all finish on Saturday. It was quite special.

Woke up early on Saturday for a 6:30am race start. All our gear was ready and all three of us were concerned with the weather. Forecast called for overcast skies and a light rain. My main concern was the clothing... will I wear long sleeve t-shirt? long sleeve over short sleeve? short sleeve? I decided on long sleeve over short... except that... I switched to just short sleeve 5 minutes before the start. It was already raining at the start (and had been drizzling for an hour or so). The first mile on the dirt road was fine, but the second we hit the single track, the mud was noticeable. Little did I know, this would be the driest mile of my whole run.

The first 3 miles are uphill and technical and while I was looking forward to the 3 miles of downhill, I couldn't gain much on those. We all had to cautiously run due to mud. Reached the 6 mile aid feeling strong. Off I go to more muddy single track.... There were some "runable" sections that were a 10th of a mile at the most... It'd take 45 seconds to get into a rhythm and get a smile on my face... when you'd reach a muddy spot.  Miles 8 to 10 were dry-ish. This is what I call "the rim trail". It's more rocky, so I wouldn't find much mud, but the rock was slick. I focused and was able to "make up" some time by running sub-9min miles... but then the fun ended... it was STILL raining. I was soaked and covered in mud and it was time to hit 10 miles of single track.

Running at mile 24 before the downhill.
This 10 mile stretch of single track was BEYOND muddy. It was IMPOSSIBLE to run and I was just waiting for my big fall. It never came. I managed to pass a significant amount of people with my determination to run... The uphills were tough and people kept sliding backwards. After the aid station at mile 20, there's a 2-mile steep uphill stretch that made me carry an extra 20 pounds of weight in the form of mud on my shoe.  Miles 22-24 are rolly at the top of a mountain and the first time I got to wear my sunglasses... the rain FINALLY stopped and the sun wanted to make an appearance.

My hubby and dog were waiting there and I believe I was slightly rude to them... but I was trying (HARD) to re-group to push hard on the last few miles. I also saw Courtney coming back for her 2nd loop (which is backwards). I finally hit the downhill which is technical and was still slightly slippery, but not as bad. The last mile and a half was again dry (that frontage road from the beginning) and I was able to maintain a steady pace. My time was 20 minutes slower than last year which was slightly disappointing at first but then I realized EVERYONE'S times were an average of 30 minutes slower due to the crazy mud. Let me say this: there is nothing, NOTHING fun about mud runs.

Crossing the finish line

Marathon finisher
Chilling post-run. 
Court and Kev finished strong as well with times fairly slower than last year as well... but we were all in pretty good spirits. This was a much more challenging race mentally, than physically so once the race was over, it's like we all woke up from a long long nap. We went back to the hotel and showered and went to the awards ceremony... Court had won the 52-mile race. We went to bed early and got prepped to do it all over again on Sunday.

We woke up Sunday a half an hour later since the race started at 7am. We met up with the rest of the crew at the race start area. This time, we were ALL running the half marathon. Linds, Patty and Chuck had "fresh" legs. Kev, Court and I were gonna "take it easy". Chuck took off fast. Kev and Court are super machines and took off along with Patty... and Linds and I were going at an easy "training" pace. Linds was feeling strong and it was hard for me to keep up with her, but glad I had someone to chase down. I'm sure I would've slowed down if I had been alone. Linds was tackling the uphills so much better than I had ever seen her and I'm glad she made me dig deep. Digging deep is something I need to put in practice a lot before Transrockies, it'll be a skill that'll come in handy that week...

Pretty views.
At the half way point, we met up with Patty who was having some tummy issues... ugh, we've all been there!! I felt bad for him, but he pushed through it like a champ and stuck in the back of the pack with us at a nice, steady pace.  The last 6 miles of the half are the exact same first 6 miles of the full marathon, but backwards... so, 3 miles up and 3 miles down to the finish. I'd never run this section of the course backwards and I realized how much "easier" it was... in my eyes anyway. The uphill seems less steep coming from this side and we were able to slowly jog a pretty significant part of it. Once we reached the top I decided to jump in front of Linds and just "book it" down the mountain.

The trails had been dry the whole day this time around and I needed a big downhill to close off the weekend. I went as hard as I could. I passed 9 people in a 2 mile stretch of technical downhill and slowed down to wait for Linds on the frontage road back to the finish. She caught up to me fast and while she had the legs to push hard on the last quarter mile, I simply didn't... although I did finish it at an 8:50 min/mile... Linds must've been FLYING. She finished 15 seconds in front of me and Patty came shortly after.

Happy 2013 Fruita crew!
Seemed like everyone had a pretty good run despite some of us having a long hard run on our legs from the previous day. All in all, between the 6 of us, we completed 183 miles of racing in only 2 days. I ran 39 of those. I was sore on Monday, but felt fine on Tuesday. I skipped the Dash and Dine 5K since I figured my legs would be trashed and I could use an extra day of rest.

I deserved a beer after two days of running. And note how clean my socks look! 
This week there's no Dash and Dine, but I will be running with coach Eric to get faster. On Saturday, I'll be running the Greenland 50k which should be a pretty fast course. I'm hoping for a PR, but I gotta remember it's a long training run. If the PR feels doable, I will go for it, if it's a "dig deep" kinda push, I may just have to let it go.

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