Monday, April 7, 2014

3's a Magic Number

Terrapin Mountain 50K is one of my favorites, a great mix of technical single track and gravel forest service roads that will not disappoint in challenge or beauty.  Terrapin seems to mark the end of winter in my mind and ushers in spring after a long/cold winter. It's exciting to forget about bundling up, and just run unburdened by all the layers of protective winter gear.
Start 2010
I slept great Friday night, but woke without the pre-race jitters? where was that extra adrenaline rush that was going to propel me through the day? I was struggling to wake up which isn't usually an issue. I'm very much a morning person, but I couldn't stop yawning on the way to Sedalia. I checked in, got my bib, enjoyed chatting with some folks, decided not to wear arm sleeves, got my race vest (check), handheld (check) and soon it was time to line up. I spotted Bill Gentry and we were just chatting it up when reality struck, GONG!!GONG!!GONG!! Clark came up with the genius idea of using a huge suspended gong to signal the start of the race, it certainly gets your attention :)  I hit the road and scanning the crowd realized I was pretty far back from the sea of runners up ahead. The first four miles are a steady climb up to the Camping Gap AS so I tried to keep telling myself, it's early, don't get carried away and start too fast! I enjoyed a quick word with some folks along the way, soaking up the positive energy of sharing a day on the trails with so many amazing people. I wasn't feeling particularly strong or relaxed on the climb, so luckily Andrew Simpson came along and helped take my mind off the task at hand, talking R2R2R and other running plans for the year.  I knew once we got to camping gap we had a great section of downhill and I could relax a bit.
Heading down to AS 2 Goff Rd. 2012
Other than a knife stabbing pain in the middle of my back that I suspect was the result of playing disc golf on my lunch break Friday, I enjoyed the 5 miles down to the Goff Road AS at mile 9.4. Met some new people along the way and I was happy Rick caught up with me here as we've enjoyed this section together in the past and had some catching up to do. I topped off my bottle at Goff Rd. then started playing the "run to the next pink ribbon" game. Long sections of uphill gravel road that I don't like, the ones that you could run, but really feel like walking instead (you know the ones)  I tend to pick points to run to before taking a walk break. I could see Andrew up ahead, quickly moving out of sight while I slogged along. I was looking forward to the single track coming up so I just turned on some tunes and pressed on... walk, run, walk, run repeat. We still have a long way to go, relax, be patient, have fun riding the waves of highs and lows....
I enjoyed the single track section, but also had a sense of dread in the back of my mind,  knowing the climb back up to Camping Gap was looming near. The single track spit us back onto the road and the fun of dancing over rocks and roots faded away. Three long miles back up to camping gap and gravity was no longer on my side.  When we play on opposing teams I usually loose the battle.... yep, I was loosing for sure, mostly walking with a weak jog thrown in here and there for good measure. I could see Andrew up ahead again, so I would try to catch up, but instead fell further behind. I came back into camping gap (16.4) alone, but boy were the volunteers there amazing and their enthusiasm lifted my spirits. A lady met me below the aid station, took my bottle, filled it and ran it up the road to me with a gel in her other hand in case I needed it! now that's service! I never stopped moving.
2011-the fun single track
After all that climbing, you'd think one could catch a break, but no! you're still not done, the fun is just really beginning (eye roll) is this whole race uphill? and you still have to come back to camping gap a third time after this lolli-pop loop around the white oak ridge trail. I was still alone and making my way up the road (stick) of the lolli-pop when I started to see the front runners coming out of the loop!! always fun to see the fast guys flying along, helps keep ya honest, "they would have run this hill, right"? I turned off the road and started climbing into the loop when the slightly snowy, little muddy, grassy hill sucked the life right out of me.
 I heard voices coming up  from behind and before long Alexis and her buddy caught me and left me in the dust. I tried to hang close behind in the loop, but once we got headed back down to the road they were outta sight, the trail was rough and muddy and I could not get in a rhythm. I hit the road and was happy to once again have a bit of gravity on my side and run again. I was surprised when Alexis came up again from behind? she had taken a pit stop and was saying she was having issue with a bit of cramping. It was certainly getting warm and I was also trying to figure out salt/fluid intake. We've not had many days in the 60-70 degree range to acclimate.  We ran along cheering on the other runners going into the loop and before I knew it we were back at camping gap for the third and final time!
Fat's Mans Misery 2010
I topped off my bottle, grabbed a salty hot potato and started the relentless climb up to Terrapin Rock!  The person behind me was using some snow to cool off and I was more than happy to join in~ why didn't I think of that? I picked up big handfuls and basically took a snow bath, it felt so good to wipe away the salt and cool off a bit. I put some down my shirt and held some in my swollen hands. I have to admit the urge to eat some was quite strong and I started dreaming of Popsicles. We finally reached the top, scurried out to the edge of Terrapin Rock and punched our numbers, barely getting to glimpse the amazing views. I had passed Ann Stanley earlier and Alexis was very close behind, but they were the only females I had seen all day. Somewhere along the way I thought I had been told I was running in 6th so I knew I had to take advantage of the next downhill section to stay in the top 10. Luckily my legs were feeling pretty good on the downhill and I was moving along fairly well. I slipped going between some rocks and put my arms out to brace myself, the forward momentum of my body almost wrenched my arms out of socket, (I felt that for a week). Fat Man's misery didn't seem so bad after that!
Coming out of  fat man's I caught Siobhan (who I met later learned is doing the BEAST, you go girl! and did MMT for her first 100, badass) I love all the downhill from the Terrapin summit, but then comes the painful part where you have to do an out and back to the final aid station.. I saw Dennis climbing back up from the aid station as I was going down and not far behind Beth and Marc! whoopwhoop! got me even more excited to see them and know we were headed into the final miles.
I had enjoyed chatting and being around lots of people during the decent from Terrapin, but I found myself alone on the last section. I decided to just enjoy some tunes and keep focused, walking as little as possible. I knew Alexis was close behind and would be just as determined for a strong finish. Probably a mile later I caught up to Beth, she was also plugged in and focused. I sensed she might not be feeling well so I just dropped a couple words and let her be, hoping those feelings would soon pass. I wanted to stop right there, give her a big hug, chat about how the day had played out up until that point, but I knew we needed to really work hard those last miles!
I'm always amazed at Terrapin and Promise Land in particular at how I can have so many highs and lows and feel like I've been totally spent multiple times throughout the day and then still after 30 miles, hit the road and still seem to have some gas in the tank. I always see the 1 more mile to go sign, look at my watch (if I have one on), note the time in my head and try to remember the number so I can calculate the pace, but once I cross that finish line it's the last thing on my mind. Whether it's a 10 minute mile or a 7 minute mile, it feels amazing to know that soon you'll be done, all those down times and negative thoughts will fade away and you're left with all the beautiful moments of the day.  Along with those beautiful moments I got to take home a PR, 5:28, and 3rd female!
I'm hating that I didn't take a single picture this year, but it was fun digging through all the past years and taking a trip down memory lane.  Thanks to Clark and all the wonderful volunteers for the huge amount of work that keeps us coming back!

Finish 2009

Maybe 3 is the magic number????....
3rd Female at Holiday Lake 50k,
3rd Female at Black Mountain Marathon
3rd Female at the Shamrock 4 Miler
3rd at Terrapin 50K
all while age 33, if it had been 2013 I would really be freaked out ; )

1 comment:

  1. SOOOOO good to see your face, Beth!! Super great running!! Super great report, too. Hope we get to play in the dirt together again soon, buddy!!