That's a lot of running!
The focus this winter was trail running. To help celebrate turning the big 4-0 this year, Bethany was going to sign up for the 50k, so naturally I said I'd run it with her. (Do I have "SUCKER" tattooed on my forehead?!) Turns out we were not alone--Lynn and Molly said they wanted to run it too so we had more company and the training was quite fun!
The Richmond Road Runners sponsors two trail runs leading up to Holiday Lake, a 10 miler in early December (Bear Creek) and a 35k (Willis River) in January. Lots of our friends ran the two as well, so we made weekends out of both races. Last year was the first time I had run Bear Creek, so I knew the course and what to expect. This year I finished 15 minutes faster, but I think alot of that time is due to the fact that we didn't get lost in the last 2 miles like last year. Here's a small sampling of our group prerace: me, Lynn, Bryan, Molly, Bethany, Emmie, and Jill.
Christmas came and went, and soon we were gearing up for the Willis River 35k. This race starts in the same place as the 10 miler, but runs in the opposite direction. That other direction must be much lower in elevation, as it was beyond MUDDY. We're talking suck-the-shoes-off-your-feet muddy. The course is an out and back, and I felt good up to about mile 15. Then I got really sick of skirting around all the damn mud. Molly and I ended up coming into the finish line together; we made the 5 hour cut off and had we wanted to keep going, we could've done the 50k. No thanks! I needed a shower, chili, and time in front of the fire. We had 2 crock pots of chili cooking while we ran, and I can't tell you how delicious it tasted post race!!! Of course I brought cupcakes.
Glad to be done: Cindy, Jill, Bethany, Lynn, me, and Molly
Joey and Lulu Snuggling
Bethany and Jake (Sophie is the brown lump in front)
At the finish of the 35k I couldn't imagine running for another 2+ hours. I was a bit nervous heading into Holiday Lake, mainly because I didn't know what the course would be like. I heard there wasn't as much mud and more fire roads. The four of us doing the race all stayed at a nice B&B in Appomatox not far from the race site. The state park where the race is held has bunk houses where most people stay--yuck. We were much more comfy in our carriage house, which had a full kitchen, plenty of hot water, and breakfast on Sunday morning. Bethany and I drove down together, and pulled in to the B&B just before Molly and Lynn. We found our rooms, dumped our stuff, ate a quick bite and headed to the packet pick up/race meeting.
This 50k is really well attended by top trail running legends. There was one guy sitting at our table that the race director introduced--he had just the previous year run ACROSS THE COUNTRY. The kid is just 23 years old and has written a book about his experience. Such an amazing accomplishment. I felt totally out of my league.
Packets picked up, it was time to head home and hop in bed. I think we were all asleep by 9:30--we were hoping to be in bed much earlier, but that race director likes to talk! Race morning dawned, blessedly warmer than the 19 degrees originally forecast. We had all packed umpteen different layers, so were well covered for any possibility. We got to the race start, checked in, peed, and it was time to go! It was dark! The race started at 6:30am, so we're all standing around with headlamps on. Love the low-key attitude at Holiday Lake--there was no professional singing of the national anthem, so everyone just sang on their own. Can't say it sounded that great, but it was special in it's own way. "Ready! Set! Go!" marked the start, and we were all off heading up the hill.