Day Two: #TeamYellow
The uniform of the day was HI VIZ YELLOW! We always have to include yellow because one of our local running legends, Graham, wears yellow at every race he does. It’s a fun way to honor someone we admire and of course we love taking our obligatory #teamyellow group photo.
We gathered up to start and readied ourselves for 16 miles. This course is the longest, but easiest of the three. It is also the course where your process of devolving begins and you start to lose your mind to the woods. GO! We were off! Slowly making our way through the campsite and watching as bewildered campers poked their heads from their tents to peer at the herd of crazy runners. The smell of bacon wafted through the woods and even though I don’t even EAT bacon my stomach growled and I was suddenly ready for a six course breakfast with a mountain of waffles and endless pots of coffee. But first, I had miles to run.
We ran down the rocky descent on Cold Springs and marveled at how well the trail had been fixed up– several weeks ago a massive sinkhole opened up right in the middle of the path. The local mountain biking group came in and filled it up perfectly. It was like it wasn’t ever there! Thanks SORBA! We came to a small out and back section and had to hop off the trail every few minutes to let the faster people pass by. Not a single one of them ran past without cheering and encouraging us behind them.
We crossed on to Mountain Mist trail and were enjoying frequent, short power hike breaks up the several small “hills” on the trail. Colleen joked that her husband calls this spot flat, and we all decided he must be crazy… maybe that was just our tired legs talking. We passed the first aid station and stocked up on snacks, Kim declared her undying love of pretzels, and we soldiered on. I found myself having a lot of trouble on the downhills because 1. My legs were really tired and taking an eternity to warm up, and 2. My glasses kept slipping down my face. Every time I landed a step, my glasses would slip, shifting my vision just slightly. It was very disorienting and made flying down the hills difficult. Normally I never wear my glasses while racing, but my eye doctor’s office goofed up and didn’t order the correct contact lenses for me, so it was either run blind or run in glasses.
GRASSY KNOLL! This is what we call a small clearing that connects several trails. We did a slight happy dance upon reaching this point and then turned on to Rocky Nightmare trail, and what a rocky nightmare it was! There were small rocks, big rocks, ankle turner rocks, big boulders that shifted under your weight. Ack! Not only that, but it was incredibly humid so the rocks were slippery. One wrong step and you would be toast! Or at least your butt would be. I did my usual marveling of, “HOW DO THE FAST PEOPLE RUN OVER THIS SO QUICKLY?” as I tip toed my way through. They must float or levitate. There is simply no other explanation!
Time to ascend Rest Shelter– again, more Mountain Mist flashbacks. At least we weren’t starting at the very bottom. Someone in team girl power called out, “This isn’t SO bad…” and someone else replied, “SHUT UP YES IT IS.” I was glad they said it for me because I was thinking it but too out of breath to say anything. At the top of the climb we turned on Fire Tower trail, one of the flat plateau trails on the top of the mountain. We were all in good spirits because we knew something special was coming at mile ~8.5 mile aid station.
LEMONADE STAND!!!! — there was our friend Ryan’s family, his daughter handing out lemonade to thirsty runners. Ryan mentioned they would be there before the race and we were so excited to see them! We all took several small cups and thanked her profusely. Lemonade was just what we needed to energize! As per usual, we walked away from the aid station with hands full of goodies. Kim was still marveling over the wonders of pretzels and discussing the merits of stick pretzels vs the twisty kind, and I was stuffing as many jelly beans in my mouth as I could without choking to death.
We descended off the plateau and down on Sinks, weeeeeee-weeeee-weeeeeeeing all the way down! As we transitioned on to Keith trail behind the Stone Cuts, Kim and I remembered last year that this section of the course was HOT AS BLAZES! For whatever reason, this small section was completely devoid of wind and we overheated quickly. Same this year! We knew that as soon as we rounded the corner onto Logan though…
Ahhhhh, cool breeze! It’s the little things in life, y’all. These are our cool breeze faces. Kara says she looks like she’s asleep, I think she’s just enjoying the breeze to it’s fullest. Now we were in the home stretch!! A few more rollers, passed a guy who said our trail stories were making him want to vomit, and finally the last aid station. We joked with the workers there about the vast difference between us and the people in the front of the pack. Those speedy guys? They just blow right through, hardly even noticing there’s food and water there. Us? We stop, become best friends with the aid station workers, and peruse the buffet at our leisure. Afterall, someone’s got to eat all that candy!
Time to get this done. We reluctantly left the friendly aid station workers and made our way back towards the final climb back up Cold Springs. We passed some hikers along the way, “HOLD YOUR BREATH, We smell awful,” I advised, and they got a big laugh. Up up up, has this hill gotten bigger since the last time we did it? I stayed fixated on Kara’s ridiculously toned calf muscles and pretended she was pulling me up the mountain with her.
We made it to the top and we’re now running back through the state park. Colleen and Kara were running strong ahead, Kim and I were walking behind them. I gesticulated toward them and sighed, “DONT THEY KNOW THIS IS A HILL?” (It wasn’t a hill). Kim laughed and agreed, but for some reason we both started running after them anyway. Team girl power: when one (or two, or three) of us is feeling weak, there’s’ always one to pull us on! We heard the music and cheers coming from ahead and picked up the pace towards the finish line. WEE! Day two done!
Again everyone was gathered around enjoying the amazing provided post race meal. I piled my plate with a mountain of mashed potatoes and green beans and sat down to enjoy the morning with my friends.
Day two: 4:05:57