I woke up this morning and went through the normal pre-race routine: get dressed, mix fuel bottles, load gel packets, pack gear. Except when I got to the "pack gear" part, I was a little stumped. I put on a pair of normal running shoes, but they were too clean for a muddy trail run. So I put on an older pair of running shoes, but the laces were elastic and I knew I would step right out of them in the mud. I finally settled on my racing flats, solely because they had laces that tied and didn't stretch. I quite possibly had the most ill-equiped footwear out of anyone there. I was tempted to ditch my shoes and run in socks, but I promised my Mom that I wouldn't go that far barefoot.
Fast-forward to the race site. After signing in, Ken and I sat down at a picnic table in the sunshine and soaked in the warmth. We watched the 50k runners head out and waited for the 25k countdown.
The race started with a 1.5 mile out-and-back on a packed gravel road. Packed gravel = not so bad, right? Except that I was walking within 5 minutes due to the incline. I seriously thought about turning around, running back to the parking lot, and leaving. Except that I had already purchased a hat with the race logo on it. So I kept running. Er, walking. Finally we hit the turnaround and headed downhill. Okay, this isn't so bad.
I reached the part were the route turns back to pavement and crosses the damn towards the first aid station. I saw Ken here -- he was riding loops around the lake on his bike while I ran. Here is a pic of his pretty new bike:
Somewhere in the back half of the course I remember thinking "huh, they talked about all of this mud, but it really hasn't been that bad". Then I saw a sign that basically said "warning: MUD!". Oh yeah, LOTS of mud. And no way around it. And remember, I'm in the back of the pack, so almost 400 other people have churned and slicked it all up by this point. I saw someone fall, and laughed. I hit the same spot and both feet flew out to the side and I landed with a "squeeeesh" in the thick of it. I got back up, trudged on, and lost my left shoe again. But didn't immediately realize it. I reluctantly went back for it. A little further down the course, the trail narrowed and steep walls were on either side. Smack in the middle was, yep, mud. Deep mud. I fell here again. And lost a shoe again. But it was all so funny, and not frustrating at all.
If you look really close, I am the pink dot on the far hillside. This is maybe 1/4 mile from the finish.The finish line! Final time was actually 3:46. Yes, I am that slow. And yes, I am very proud of that time. It was a hard course!
Ken had made a trek to a nearby store and was waiting with water and beer. I headed into the water to wash off the mud...and stayed there for about 15 minutes. It was like a natural ice bath. We headed out for burgers, beers, and fries (!!!) and now I'm getting ready for a 7pm bedtime. Fun, fun times!