Saturday, February 20th 2010, Allison AR.
Charley and I made the trip down to Allison on Friday afternoon. We picked up our packets, bib number and swag at the starting point (Angler's restaurant and Gas Station) then made our way into Mtn. View to spend the night. After a quick dinner and a few beers we tried to sleep. I was pretty restless all night in anticipation and my mind kept coming back to the same old question. Am I ready? I always have so many doubts in the hours leading up to any race/ event.
The alarms started at 5 am and we were up and at 'em for a quick breakfast. Charley likes to eat light so he opted for a granola bar but I NEED food before a race so I had 2 bowls of oatmeal and some pretzels. (odd combo- I know) A check of the local weather forecast showed a gorgeous day with temps ranging from 40 degrees at the start and 60 by the finish. About 6 we checked out headed back into Allison where I found some coffee and we checked in with the event staff. There were no timing chips this year but they wanted to make sure who actually showed up and was going to be on the course in case somebody didn't make it back in.
At 7 am we lined up at the start and headed out. About ¾ mile straight up hill along the highway and then a detour down a gravel road leading to the trail. At mile 1 we had to cross a waist deep creek. I was pretty happy that it was lower than last year and had just mentioned that fact to Charley when I slipped and fell. Sufficiently wet and a little embarrassed I climbed out and began the climb up the first slippery trail. We stayed behind a pack of other runners for a mile or two through some really cool scenery. Running under rock bluffs with icicles hanging and hopping over more than a couple of fallen trees. We decided to pass this group which was difficult because of the narrow trails but they were very gracious and stepped aside.
We continued at an easy 10 minute pace through the first aid station at mile 5 and continued to run together. At mile 10 we hit another aid station and filled our water bottles and grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Here we got a little confused on which way to continue and ended up in a larger pack of runners. We hung together through mile 12 or 13 but Charley ended up drifting farther ahead. I seen him only one more time at the turn around aid station at mile 15.5. I spent a little too much time here trying to find some Gatorade. The first cup I picked up was full of Mtn. Dew and about made me gag. I sorted it out grabbed a handful of pretzels and headed back to Allison.
The return trip was a little more difficult because of the runners still coming down the trail. At this point I was in about 15th place and there were still a lot of runners on the “out” part. The trail is narrow in most places and it was difficult to get around in spots. I was gradually slowing down but not to bad. Grabbing another PBJ at mile 20 I continued through the trail by myself. It can get hard the last 10 miles especially when you are by yourself but the great thing about an out and back is that you can always count on the encouragement of the runners that you meet along the trail. Even though they are still on the first “out” part of the course they are very gracious and positive. I love to encourage them and hear their words of encouragement in return, it is part of what makes these events so cool.
I found my way to the mile 25 aid station where they had some potatoes on hand. I wish they had had these at the earlier aid stations because they helped me get through the last leg. The day had got very warm by this point and I was losing a lot through my sweat. My navy blue shirt was streaked with white from the salt my body was losing and I had some salt build up around my eyes. I managed to pass a few people on this stretch but I am not sure if they were running the 50k or the 25k. I found the creek crossing at mile 30 and knew I was home free. Only one big hill to run up and then ¾ mile down to the finish. I crossed the line with Charley cheering me on in 5 hours 15 minutes and 48 seconds.
It was a great race and I will have to wait a few days for the official results before I know my exact placement. That is really irrelevant but I would like to know. The experience was great and the terrain is definitely technical. I can't wait until next year to do it again.
Post Script= I came in 19th and Charley was 10th. The field was 139.
This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........