Just a little over a week ago on August 4, 2012, this Florida girl decided to take it to the mountains of beautiful Issaquah, Washington. Nestled in the gorgeous Grand Ridge National Regional Park, lies amazing and steep semi-technical trails just calling for runner’s to partake in their beauty! To say I was excited was an understatement but my nerves and apprehension of the terrain was definitely there as well! The closest thing to hills I have are the bridges I run in Florida and some occasional South Florida sand dirt trails. There were multiple events that day including a marathon and 5 miler which brought out a great group of variable skilled runners and lots of fellow marathon maniacs! The 50K course consisted of 2 out and back 13.1 mile sections and a final 5 mile loop, all in a lollipop type layout.
There is something special about a trail that takes running to a more spiritual level, if you will. I love feeling like you can get lost in the woods (which has happened before in races). Being surrounded by the beauty of nature, the camaraderie of other athletes, and sounds of the animals is something you can’t put a price on! How lucky I felt with each step to be experiencing the beauty that life has to offer… but I digress.
I was told many times during the race by fellow PCNW runners that the heat that day was unbearable and one of the hottest days they had all year. I was even blamed by some for bringing the Florida heat all the way to their side of the country. The “funny” thing was it was not hot but any standards that I have set in my running career. At 80 + degrees and less than 80 % humidity it felt like a blizzard to me! However, I was quickly reminded that I “ wasn’t in Kansas” anymore when I realized that I had only gone 3 miles and I had been on the course for what seemed like at least 6! The trail will humble you. I made sure to watch my footing especially this close to my 100 miler, I couldn’t risk a catastrophic injury that would take me out the game. So I took is slow and steady, repeating my favorite ultra running mantras: “ Slow is the new Fast” and “remember , it was the turtle that won!” The course starts on an uphill and has rolling hills though out. The gift comes on the return when there is a substantial amount of downhill that your legs can fly down. Thought out the race I felt like a little kid skipping and flying through the woods, it was a blast! Along the way I met some wonderful new friends, especially one gal in particular that has such an amazing story. My new friend Kandice, was fairly new to the running world and local of WA. She has run a marathon ( this was her second) and was a strong, petite athlete that was made to run! You would never know by looking at her that she had lost almost 100 pounds! This mom of two was such an inspiration to hear her story and see the strong runner and person that she had become. Reason number 5001 I love running, meeting people that continue to inspire! By the end of the race she was ready to find a 50K to add to her running repertoire and I have no doubt we will be hearing about great things from her!
The hours ticked by and the trail became more and more lonely as folks finished the marathon and or dropped down to the marathon course from the 50K due the heat. By the end , and 7 + hours later I was out there on my own and enjoying the peacefulness of the trail. Surprisingly my body felt stronger at the end then it did mid race when I had experienced some mental road blocks of getting through. This was the confidence I needed to boost me for my upcoming 100 miler! Even more exciting and unexpected was my age group win! My final time was 7:38:12. I’ll take it. It was a little longer than I anticipated being out there, but in the grand scheme, I know the time on my legs was great training.
Until next time! Wag Strong and always wear your ICE!
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