So I have made it well known that I am not the smartest of all the upright mammals. A while back in a fit of gross overestimation of my ability I signed up for a 20 mi trail race. The lucky event, KC Trail NerdsPscyho Wyco Psummer Run Toto Run. The real problem with this was 2 fold at the time, 1) I had never run on trails and 2) I had never run close to 20 miles. But hey, I mean, it’s running, how hard can it be right.
Apparently, I am an idiot. I have been training hard for the KC Marathon. Miles, speed, hills, eating right(ish). Well, I am told this is not quite a direct correlation to trail running. I finally decided I need to work a few trail runs into my routine. Unfortunately by that point I was but a few weeks out. And then the panic set in. Why this isn’t the same thing AT ALL. While gloriously fun, trail running is hard. It requires focus that is directly opposite of road running, sort of. On the road I try and zone out and focus on nothing, well except for that semi barreling down the street. On the trail I was focusing on EVERYTHING that could send me flying, roots, rocks, branches, evil mutated horror spiders trying to trap me and kill me. Side note, early morning trail run was incredibly gorgeous except for the shock and awe display mother-nature puts on with her spider army. Suffice it to say, I screamed like a girl more than once and I am in no way shamed to admit it. Anyways, focus, it is required lest you go nose first down a hill. Speaking of hills, they are nothing like the paved gentle sloping roads I run on. They can be steep and tough even for little ones. All in all, I was screwed.
So race day came, I was completely jacked ready to go. If anyone is ever in the KC area, run a Trail Nerds race, just do it. It was amazing. The people are amazing. Most of the volunteers are trail tested and knew what they are doing, the runners are incredible, the organizer is top notch. He is the one the put eh medal around my neck and asked me if I had fun. he also paid for pictures, which I thought was amazing. They are the ones you see in this post. The trail itself was amazing as well. Tough but not impossibly so, especially for a newb like me. It was well maintained and incredibly well marked (One of my fears was getting lost). Like I said, if you can get in the area to do a race, do it, it is worth it.
As far as the race went, I DID TERRIBLE. I think they say that for trail races you should start slow and go slower. Well, I did that, for a while, ok like 5 min. Once the “conga line” kind of broke up I went into road mode and took off. I did ok for the first lap of two around the lake. However towards the end I was slowing down. Unfortunately the hills were there too so I was trying to save a little something. Well, that was dumb. I should have saved some from the beginning. I got through the first pass and started the second, I was gassed going through the gate.
Then it got worse. Cramps. I fought them from mile 12 to 18 when I got to the last aid stations. The amazing volunteers saw my patheticness amble in and asked if I was ok (I was not). At this point I was really contemplating stopping. I hurt, my stomach hurt, my legs were cramping all over the place, it was rough. They saw I was struggling and suggested electrolyte/salt tabs that they had there. I took some. Magic. After a little sitting and calming of myself I took off again and could move a little bit. Lesson learned. Once again the last mile was hills and it was not what one would call easy. That being said coming down the last hill to the finish line was like nothing I have experienced yet in racing. Never before had I considered walking no less quitting and here I had and here I had fought it off. So thank you aid station volunteers and random runners who urged me on, showed their confidence I would finish, and who made sure I was ok. It was my worst race but also my best race.