Day One: Code Blue
It’s the mooooost wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeaaaaarrrr!!!! Grand Viduta Stage Race time, y’all! Time for three days of trail running glory, three days of fun with my trail running
crew, and three days of slowly devolving into madness with some of my closest friends.
I hitched a ride to the start with my friend Kara and on the way she described her nervous, pre race stress dreams to me. I laughed, but not too much because I felt the same way before I ran this race for the first time; I tried to assure her that she was going to have tons of fun. Afterall, if the race wasn’t fun, would I have done it for three years straight?? We arrived at the Land Trust parking lot and were greeted by all our pals, our trail besties, our dirt-bag runner family. We waited in line to get our day 1 bibs, all excitedly talking about how much fun we were about to have. It was finally here! Day one of my favorite event of all time. Trail runner summer camp!!
In the starting area I grouped up with my trail running soul sisters, Kim and Colleen. We have done this race together every year and I can’t imagine it any other way. Kara also decided to run with us and all together we made up an awesome team of girl power. As per tradition, we planned out matching shirts to wear every day, and the color scheme for day 1 was blue. I can’t stress just how wonderful running with this group of women is!
After a few words from our race director extraordinaire, reminders not to litter, directions on how the course was marked, and we were OFF! WOO! Time to run! A short jaunt through the parking lot and then we took to the woods. My legs were fresh and feeling peppy and we kept to a faster than usual pace. In true trail runner fashion, it took no less than 10 minutes for the conversation to turn to the real stuff: boobs and poop. Among running friends, there is no shame, no filters, and no topics off limits!
We ran smoothly and easily up to the first aid station around mile ~3.5 where the workers were poised and ready to fill up packs and dispense food to hungry forest beasts like ourselves. Jeff was there working and excitedly showed me a pack of Oreos, “I got them because you said you liked them!” YAY! OREOS! My favorite treat! A day or so before, Jeff had posted in our community facebook page asking for requests and advice from trail runners on how best to run his aid station. What a guy! It’s people like him and all the other amazing volunteers who make events like this so great.
We walked away from the aid station with hands full of pretzels and jelly beans. Almost time to conquer Waterline– the hardest part of day 1! There were funny signs all along the way. I joked with my friends as we ran down the trail towards the massive climb that I was suffering from flashbacks from Mountain Mist. This is the part of that race where I was running seconds ahead of the cut offs and nearly killed myself trying to make it on time. Much less pressure this go ‘round! We made it to Waterline and hunkered down into power hiking mode. Up, up, up, yes, still going up. Pulled ourselves up the rock wall. Huff, puff, huff, puff. Are we done yet? No, still further up still. Suddenly rap music was blaring from the top of the climb. I heard Kim squeal and begin rapping along behind me. I had no idea what was going on, but I LIKED IT. Tommy, a friend from our No Runner Left Behind group, was there with a portable speaker playing music from the musical Hamilton. Kim stopped at the top to dance and sing along, I was holding onto a tree trying to catch my breath and laughing, and some guy behind us that we don’t know passed by with a look of bewilderment on his face, probably trying to get as far away from us as possible.
YO, I’M JUST LIKE MY COUNTRY I’M YOUNG SCRAPPY AND HUNGRY, AND I’M NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT– the Hamilton music (in case you couldn’t tell I’m a fangirl now) energized our climb-weary legs and we were off for the back half of day 1’s course. Up High Trail, pop out of the woods and onto Bankhead, a road that winds up the mountain, and then back on at Tollgate Trail for the second aid station. I think it was around this time that we came up on our friend Jay, who is much faster than me usually. I took the opportunity to be entirely too nosey and ask him personal questions about his life that I would have never asked had I been required to make eye contact (THIS IS WHY IT’S SO EASY TO TELL SECRETS WHEN RUNNING). I enjoyed hearing his story and sharing a few of my own. Before I knew it, we were coming up on the final aid station. Only a couple more miles to go!
A few out of town guys who had already finished the race cheered us on and offered some encouraging words, giving us directions on where to go to finish up the race. After we passed them I joked to Kim, “DON’T THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE? We are Viduta PROS!! The ORIGINALS!” Which made us laugh really hard, because we clearly do not look or act like pros by any stretch of the imagination. We tip-toed through the rocks on Railroad Bed trail and slowly but surely made our way to the finish line, all the while laughing and telling funny stories. I was tired, but felt good and was happy I didn’t have major gastro issues like last year. Soon we heard the music through the woods and the cheers of our friends, day one, COMPLETED! Time for a well earned post race refuel.
There was a delicious smelling post race meal of homemade chicken corn stew (which I did not partake of because I don’t eat chicken, but I heard it was delicious!) potato salad, fruit, coke, and best of all, BEER. The racers all sat around together sharing our first day battle stories, “I saw a snake!” “I fell down in a creek, I think I’m going to need stitches!” “I ate six pound of jelly beans!” all the while stopping to cheer and holler for anyone else that was crossing the finish line.
After that, I went to work, because I’m a sucker with not enough vacation time to spare, but that didn’t stop me from spending the rest of my day dreaming about being back in the woods…
Day one: 13 miles, 3:36:00