Sometimes race reports are hard for me to write. I think I want the actual physical discomfort to go away before I try to convince anyone (let alone myself) that it was amazing :-) This was a really tough race, but I am very glad that I did it, and it was my first overall win in a race! Yippie!
We got to Tuscaloosa on Friday night. George, TyTy (erin), Laura, Sparkles, Chris, Big Frank, and Little Frank, all safely arrived and found some food. Then, off to bed, and up bright and early. As we drove into the wilderness of Alabama, we felt like we were on an episode of punked. Surely there was not really a race going on. We were in the middle of NO WHERE! Sure enough, though, a group of trail runners were there and ready to roll!
Right before the race, George says to me, "hey be careful, I just heard that the course is a bit technical. Be careful running." Oh man, and it was. Or maybe I am a wimp, who knows!
So we take off and start running. Laura and I try to find our place and pace on the tight singletrack on the edge of a gorgeous lake.
We get about three miles in, my foot gets caught on a root that is hidden under leaves, and I hit the ground hard. I mean really really hard. I am pretty bruised up from that first fall. Not only that, but now my confidence in my own trail running is pretty shaken up. After that, I fall again and again and again. It is really embarrassing. Fortunately, Laura is thoughtful and supportive. I know it was technical, but I think I just got in my own head that I could not stay vertical. Any negatives in your brain in a race translate into your performance. This was not the speed versions of that, this was the not-falling version. I eventually told myself that I could NOT break collarbones, ribs, ankles, or wrists, so if I was going to fall, I had to fall smart. Clearly, I was in my own head.
The course was great, with these crazy hills in the last mile (when else!?) that you had to use your hands to get up and down! Yes! That is trail running :-)
After one lap, Laura and I switched up some gear thanks to George and Frank.
As I am leaving, George says, "the lead woman is four minutes up, go catch her." I snapped at him, "this is really hard, and I have to focus on me right now." Nice Kacie. Way to be a jerk.
So, Laura and I go back on the lake section, and I told her what George said. I kept saying, "I don't care where she is. I am doing this race for me." Less than five minutes later, I said, "ok, I really do care." Laura graciously helped me pick up the pace, and we caught up with her within about 3.5 miles. Then, I had to make a pass and keep it for 13 miles. Yikes. So I did. Laura decided to back off a little bit and get some walk breaks in. Within a few minutes, she caught me, because I had taken a face plant into the ground and my calf was visibly balled up. I punched my own calf really hard, got up, and kept running. Even though it was a small race, I have never lead a race, and I am certainly not going to loose it now!
So, on I went on my own out there in the woods. I know people talk about pain caves. Well, mine got a little redecorating. I decided to paint the walls the same color as the brown leaves that were blocking my sight of the roots and rocks.
There was one out and back, and I made it through the whole thing without seeing anyone. At the end of the out and back, George, Sparkles, TyTy, and Chris were cheering. I was really tired by mile 29, and I could barely look at them without tearing up, so I gave George a fist bump, and took off. I knew I was good to go once I made it past the out and back, but I still had those awesome hills to tackle! I hit the road for the last half mile, and I was thrilled to get to the finish line. My crew was jumping and cheering, and generally being totally nuts, which was great!!! It was an amazing race, great support, great food and aid stations, and yet, I was happy happy happy to be finishing!
This is how I handle my first overall win. I crack up laughing!
Did I mention that while I was out there, George won the overall in the four mile race?
TyTy did the four mile race, which was her first time running on trails, and Sparkles and Chris ran the 25K!
I am So lucky to have such amazing friends and if you click on them, you should see some of the finish line cheering :-) I am so luck to have Laura to train/race/run/ride with. It will be an awesome journey leading up to St. George with her.
My time was 5:43. Impressive pace? Heck no. But, when you consider how much time I spent on my face, it's pretty good!
Don't worry, Tashka, I'll be back, and I will be vertical. Now, to nurse these bruises.....