June 18, 2015

What goes up must come down (Memorial Day 12 Miler)

If this race wasn't titled Memorial Day, you might not know how long I've waited to write about it. But let's just pretend I said Flag Day, and then we're good.

For those new to the Southeastern Trail Series, the Memorial Day Race is the third in the series, and you can pick your poison at 6 or 12 miles. The series is built to prep you for your first 50K, but you can go the short series route and prep for a 25K by series end. 

With my Resolute Runners, we had a fantastic group of folks joining us out on the trails that day. See below to know that they don't play.

Resolute Runners intimidating the competition.

I love every single one of them!

And now for a little more info on the race for those of you considering this for the future. 

Pre-race: All racers have the option of picking up their packet the day before at Mtn High Outfitters, and let me just tell you that it helps the race directors a ton on race morning if you use that option. Shorter lines on race morning are always a good/relaxing thing. Being the third year for the series though, they have a great system going, and things run smoothly pre-race. 

Getting there: The park has upped their entrance fee to $4, so bring cash or clean out the change in your ash tray. What you don't want to do is totally forget and have to use the ATM at the gate. For some reason, that is one of my most hated things in life is getting charged ATM fees, especially when those fees will be more than the amount of cash you need in the first place. 

And once you are to the gates, leave about 10 extra minutes to get to the race start. You can park in a lot just past the start pavilion, but most folks just start parking along the road as they come in. If you park next to a tree, beware of poison ivy. It's everywhere out there right now. Kind of like snakes. But at least the snakes stay hidden for the most part. The poison ivy is like your little brother who is supposed to stay on his side of the imaginary line in the back seat of the station wagon on family vacation, but he never does what he's supposed to. And you just know he/it is creeping over to do something that will potentially ruin your life forever (i.e. be annoying for a little bit). 

Race morning and race course: There are fluids for filling up packs and water bottles. Definitely bring a water bottle to this race! There are no aid stations along the course, and you will be out there for longer than you think. Six miles isn't much when it's flat, but add a little Shackleford in there and forget about it. 

The race start. Photo by Marathon Runs.


Yes, that's about 500 ft of elevation gain on one hill. Sometimes it's so steep that using your hands to grab rocks and pull yourself up is the best option. That or falling backwards off the mountain. The 12 milers get to do that twice, bless them all. 

And the way down will wreck yourself if you don't check yourself. Tip: don't fall.

My race: I started off hoping for a good day knowing that there was a strong field of ladies hitting the course that day. The last time I did the double-loop course, I took the first loop way too easy, and I had to play catch up on the second loop. But not this day -- this day I felt like my effort was pretty even, although I definitely slowed down somewhat on the second loop, running it about a minute slower per mile than the first loop. 


I want to formally apologize to the runner who was near me the whole race who I kept telling that this was the last hill and that we were almost done with the hard part. And then there would be yet another hill. So turns out that the hills keep coming, and you just have to expect them to never stop, the entire race. Because after that monstrosity of a hill burns up your legs, even an ant hill will feel like Mt Everest to your now-totally-busted-up calves and quads.

The luckiest part of my day is that a friend who was only running the 6-mile race, jumped back in to run the second loop with me. Friends and their life stories are the perfect distraction from heat strokes and asthma attacks. The second loop flew by, definitely nowhere close to literally because of the slowness. 

But I finished in fourth place for the ladies, which I was super happy about because all of the front-runner ladies are my idols. Also, I ran it six minutes faster than last year, so I'll take it!

My favorite person: Is this guy. He came to Crusher Ridge in khaki pants and a cotton shirt last year, and it was blazing that day. I find it so amazingly cool that he just does not give a flying flip about any of the running gear that the rest of us are so obsessed with analyzing every little detail of. He just rolls out. And he's a solid runner too. I highly doubt he will ever read this thought-provoking blog post, but if you are, sir, I have mad respect for you. And you are hereby nominated My Favorite Trail Runner of the Week/Month/Ever. 

Photo by Marathon Runs.

Injury of the day: Not a break (phew!), but my coach had a moment with an ankle roll that did not end well. Luckily we had The Farm at the finish line to tape up any of our injuries. Do they tape wounded pride? Because I need that sometimes.

And sometimes you roll your ankle.

Best finish line pic of the day: Clear winner with this one. Her longest run on trails ever, and she finishes with a 10/10 jump. Now that is winning!

Best finish line jump in existence.

Carley and Yo Momma.

Overall: Do this race if you are looking for some hills to eat for breakfast. Or if you like to get eaten by the hills for breakfast. Because the hills never get full, and you runners are pretty nutrient dense. You will most likely have toasty weather, so hydrate the heck out of yourself. And proceed to having a fun day. Also note that this race is not actually on Memorial Day but on the Saturday before Memorial Day, so you will have plenty of time to pay your respects on Memorial Day.