I had gone back and forth on running this race and still hadn’t decided on Wednesday last week. Billy must have been reading my mind because I got a message from him asking if I wanted an entry to run the inaugural Inside Trail Racing event. A quick check in with my plans and I was in, registered for the 30k!
This was going to be my biggest back to back weekend yet in AR50 training and after my 23 miler on Saturday, I have to say I was nervous for Sunday. I ate as much as I possibly could on Saturday, refueling for the next day and got to sleep as early as I could. I woke up early, got ready and definitely was nervous.
This might have had something to do with the nerves as well.
3000+ feet of elevation gain, just in the half marathon.
Chris went with me, planning on running the half marathon, but he has been dealing with some calf issues and it was not feeling good that day. We got to the race early, waited around for a while and eventually went and got our bibs. Chris put on his shoes and did a warm up jog and immediately knew it would be a bad idea to run… especially a race like this. I was bummed out, but headed to the start line for quick announcements and we were off!
The 30k was 3 loops. The “yellow” loop first, then the “pink” loop twice, coming down to the aid station/finish line after each loop. From the elevation chart you can see we immediately start climbing and went up, up, up for a good 3+ miles. It had been raining all weekend, but was trying to hold off while we were running. You could tell on the trails though that there had been a storm. Rocks and branches were covering the trails, along with some mud.
I ran as much as I could up the first 3 miles, taking some walk breaks too. It got super windy when we got to the top and I felt like I was going to blow off the mountain! This section was an out and back so we got to see the leaders coming through which is always fun. Scott Dunlap was busy taking pictures in the middle of his 2nd place 50k finish and got one of me in the process!
Photo courtesy of Scott
I made it to the top and turned around to go back down the big hill we just ran up. This is when I could tell my legs were tired. Usually I love running down these hills but I had nothing and I was being passed left and right. My legs just were tired and had no spunk in them to run fast even down hill.
Another runner that was out there running (not in the race) pointed out where to turn to me and saved me from going the wrong way. I almost missed the turn off! With the wind and slight rain, I didn’t have my eyes open enough I guess. After that, I was pretty much by myself for a while, running back down the mountain to the aid station to start the second loop.
One of the reasons I like to do trail races for training runs is the aid stations. They have so much food! I really need to work on my running pallet and making myself want to eat real foods. Last time I ate potato chips and this time I wanted to try something new, so I grabbed a square of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was able to eat a couple bites and threw it away. In addition to this, I was making sure that every 2 miles I was eating 2 shot bloks, just trying to get used to the process and feel of fueling often at certain intervals.
I headed out onto the pink loop (which the 30k would do twice), just plain tired. The trail was pretty wet and there were some ditches to run around and I just felt sloppy running. I kept on plugging along, trying to stay positive, but this is where I started thinking that maybe stopping at the half marathon would be a good thing. My legs were tired, Chris was waiting in the car, my skin was red from being cold… I was ready to stop.
I went back and forth in my head while winding up and down on the trails. There is a second hill in this loop that I could most definitely feel going up. The trails were beautiful though and I was trying to make sure to enjoy myself and take in my surroundings, because isn’t that what running is all about?
I finally made my way back down and knew I was getting close to a decision. Do I keep slogging along for another 6 miles or do I stop and call it a day? I knew I probably could go another 6 miles, but I also knew it was probably not the smartest idea based on how I was feeling. 13 was far enough, so I crossed the finish line as a half marathoner instead (the half marathon course was one pink loop).
I chatted with a friend at the tent for a minute, met the race directors and watched the rain start coming down harder. I was happy to be done. I hopped back in the warm car with Chris and we made the very rainy drive back home.
13.4 miles/2:42:15/12:08 avg pace
I don’t like quitting things, so later in the day it kind of bummed me out. I could have kept going! I knew it was the smart call though, 19 miles after 23 was a huge jump and I have to make sure to think about next week’s training in addition to that day. I get sucked into mileage, both in overall weekly and daily totals, and sometimes I just have to kick myself and tell my brain to shut up.
Running 13 miles with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain the day after a 23 miler is something I would have never dreamed of a couple months ago, so the fact I am already at this point is really great.
Inside Trail Racing did a great job. Although I almost got lost the one time, the course was well marked otherwise, the aid station was great, the volunteers were awesome and everything else was really well organized. I will definitely be back for more of their races!