Friday night I spent the evening carb loading at Jimmy Dadonna's in Solon with my family. Tons of penne pasta, marinara, and of course their garlic dough balls!
Thankfully I got a good night of sleep and popped up ready to go Saturday morning. As I put my waist camelback on I had the realization that I must not have shut the lid properly as water went everywhere. I was not even running but had a damp right foot. Thankfully I was more than prepared. I chucked the camelback in a bag and grabbed my water bottle belt and threw some nutrition in the back.
The morning seemed a bit warmer than I expected and I said hi to all the local trail friends I have come to know over the training and lined up ready to go. Shortly after 7, Tanya blew the whistle and we were off. Marathoners and 50 K runners out toward the Brandywine loop (approx 5 miles) and half marathoners headed toward the Pine Lane Loop (approx 8 miles). By the end of the day I would run the Brandwine loop 3 times and the Pine Lane Loop 2 times for the approximate total of 31 miles.
Thankfully with the snow and the coming sunrise, lights were not needed. Elizabeth, Amie and I started down the towpath and the talking started immediately! As we started up the first big hill we started walking. It still feels strange to get these breaks when a run is just starting, but I won't say they bother me!
Conditions on the whole were pretty good. There was a nice base of snow and ice which was not deep (thank goodness) and obviously there was no mud to contend with. The only bummer was that we could not do the river crossing on the Brandywine loop due to icy conditions. Being that I have already fell on that crossing before in icy conditions, I can totally understand why.
The first loop went by relatively quick and in that time I had worked up quite a sweat. I pitched the jacket and decided I also did not feel like carrying my water bottle as I figured I would just drink at the aid stations which were never more than 4 miles apart.
We were in good spirits and Mr. Skin thought he would be funny guy and pass us so he could say he was ahead of us...he actually remained ahead for much of the course as we took our time at the stops.
On the first trip through Boston store I had some water and caught up with my girls Beth and Melissa while A hit the RR (her first trip of many!). Beth got the line of the day as I stood around chatting and she looked at me and said, "so ughh Janet, you realize you still have a marathon to run."
E and I took off at an easy pace waiting for A to catch up. With shedding my coat and all my sweat, I needed to get running as the cold seems to catch up to me fast when I stop for a bit. We chatted along and as usual I had a little stumble which my hands hit the ground and like a sprinter I was off as if nothing had happened. So we will call that my only half fall for the day!
Upon hitting Pine Lane I hit the restroom and grabbed a half a PBJ and some water. The PBJ hit the spot!! And then A caught back to us and the us three amigas were back off again!
A had took a fall into the creek crossing and was all wet. I would later see someone almost go down just as she said she did. I particularily enjoyed the out and back nature of the course and passing everyone multiple times. It is good to see friends and also you always can tell where you are.
The course is quite hilly, some areas with steps. A few trees had come down and there was one in particular which was quite huge and on my way back from Pine Lane back to Boston store, I went to lift my right leg up over the top top and thought I had pulled my groin right there. With a few steps all was fine, but I vowed I was not about to tackle it the same way the next time through.
As we hit Boston store I chatted with the MT and BH for awhile over some blue Rockstar that I had brought. YUM!! We even took a pause for a picture. E assisted the male leader with a bandaid for a bad blister.
As we headed off toward Brandywine all things were going smoothly. It was fun watching the half marathoners finish strong (Good job Monica and Eric!)! Yet we had some quite aways to go!
As we looped back I chatted with BM from teampr for awhile and before I knew it, I was back at Boston store. After some more Rockstar, E & I started walking, waiting for A to catch up after another pitstop. I decided I was going to go ahead and start running.
I had saw Mr Skin up the way and figured I would go bug him for a bit. After catching up to him we chatted for a moment and then I just fell into my own pace. Once I hit the Pine Lane stop, I hung around a bit munching on some pretzels and decided I would have some coke too. I should note I have more trouble than anyone I know with my stomach and bathroom issues, but the whole day I just ate whatever I felt like, not my normal gels and cliff blocks. Yet, I felt great the whole time and did not even have to go to the bathroom except for #1 the whole time. I guess the ultra slower pace is a whole lot kinder to my stomach than my normal pace!
After a bit, I decided I would just start my way back on my own. I thought I would not enjoy running this by myself at all but for some reason at this point I did not mind. It is just so pretty and I was dialed in to the ground ahead of me. Sometimes my mind would wander and I would think, "geez I've already ran like 22 miles and still have 9 to go." I would try to shake that off and think just one more loop left. I was feeling fine and just kept a nice steady pace. All of a sudden I heard breathing behind me and a female passed me. She went on to win the race for the females. I knew she was tough as I watched her in the distance still runnning up some big hills.
I had gotten behind one guy and the two of us chatted the next few miles with a stop at Boston store. The Brandwine loop always seemed to go by fast and I knew the way back was mostly downhill so I was plodding along just fine. I was enjoying watching the finishers come down the other direction like Lloyd who passed with a smiile. As we climbed the last hill I saw the female who had been out in front pretty much all day...still smiling! Shortly thereafter I saw KM coming down after her and wondered who would be legging it out for the win.
As I hit the turnaround I just let things start to fly. One guy made me laugh that I kept passing. He kept telling me that I was getting stronger every time he saw me. It is amazing what a boost little comments like this can give ya. At this point I was heading into the finish line. I passed E and A, and E said if I pushed I could break 5:40. Holy crap, 5:40....I was planning to be excited about breaking 6, so that was major icing on the cake. That and the fact that I knew I was in third, so I kept running harder. By the time I hit the towpath I was thankful I did not see anyone close to me b/c I know I would have been tempted to chase, but I did not, so I just cruised it in with a time of 5:37.
As I got done I felt unbelievably fine. I did not have the aches I am used to after a marathon is this was further. Did I mention that I now really love trails???
Afterwards I grabbed my bag out of the car and came back just as E & A were finishing. I also saw Barb as she was heading out for her last Brandwine loop.
Upon finishing we got the best free race shirt ever...these green jackets!
-One thing E, A, & I talked about is that sometimes races should have an '*' by them to explain the time.
-A should get a * as that girl is tougher than nails to run a whole ultra with major bathroom issues. Even with all her stoppping, she still finished with a very respectable time of 5:53.
-E should get a * too. She put aside her competitive side for the whole race to support her friend A and with her to the finish. So sorry ladies to leave you after 18!
-Thanks to E and M, who finally inspired me to try a 50K, something I never thought I would do. There will be more of these in my future!
-Trail runners are awesome. It is amazing the support I heard and smiles nonstop I witnessed out there on the course. Training and meeting so many new people was just great and congratulations to all the other people out there on the day.
-A's boyfriend, Todd, shocked everyone with a 2nd place finish. Congrats!!! No wonder why he always left us in his dust on the trails...that kid is fast!
- Winking Lizard is a great post race venue!