We were off promptly at 7 am. The solo 50K runners took off very quickly. A group of us Trilogy runners immediately slowed and walked up the first little incline. It was going to be a long weekend of miles, why waste the energy!
There was a great downhill at mile 2.5-dubbed Cardiac Hill. The only reason Cardiac Hill was not fun at all, was the fact that we would climb back up this hill around mile 30.
The course was beautiful. Big climbs and fast descents. There were two absolutely gorgeous areas-when we were running beside (and THROUGH) Seneca Creek. Adam warned us we would get our feet wet. I believe I counted 15 major water crossings.
After the Judy Springs Aid Station-where we ate the coveted quesadillas, there is a huge uphill climb. But once up on the top, some very runnable terrain. Then there is the big descent down the Horton Trail, over one mile of downhill.
I then returned to the Judy Springs Aid Station. Paula warned me there was a big climb ahead.
She wasn't wrong. I climbed up through the woods, and then, all of a sudden, burst into this huge huge meadow! Two items went through my head: I knew we were going to climb to the very top of this huge hill, and this view was worth the whole 50K run.
I had a huge grin on my face as I climbed uphill. The tree colors were explosions of red, orange, yellow. And it was all for me to see. And only a few others. I felt so lucky to be out here on a Friday morning, to experience this, to see these colors. Other folks were grocery shopping, at work, riding in cars. I was out HERE, in nature, so lucky to see this! The only ones to see this spectacle was us runners and a few backpackers.
At least I had this great view to savor as I climbed up and up and up. I finally summit ted the meadow and was back to the woods. To my dismay, it appeared I must have sucked up all my water on this slow climb through beauty. I knew I had one more Aid Station, around 28 or so miles. This was a pretty but tedious section. It was, at some point, an old railroad grade, so while it could have been runnable, it just wasn't! Every time I would get into a groove, I would have to pick my way through rocks, or a patch of mud would slow me down.
I was monitoring my watch and was pretty confident I didn't have to worry about the 10.5 hour cut off. I had been thinking about a sub 9 time, but this rocky/muddy/no water section was wearing on that idea.
Until the course dumped me onto the road! And it was a slight downhill! Now, I'm not so much a road runner, but I was pleased to get on this and make up some time! In about a 1/2 mile or so, I was being cheered in at the AS, and told I had a 5K to finish!
Back into the woods I go. I KNOW Cardiac Hill is ahead. Can I make it in 9 hours?
Right at the bottom of the hill, Mark McK and Melissa catch me. They went off course and got in some extra miles for their 50K. They pass me going up the hill. Rats. I need to get faster on the climbs. I ascend the hill and out in the pasture. I can see our tents, away in the distance. Now it's just a little dip downhill, a slight uphill climb, and then the TMI Road, and then a nice downhill finish. I'm running now, trying to get closer to Mark and Melissa. I really need to use my inhaler. I should have used it at the last AS, but I forgot. I have a bit of a wheeze going on.
Still, I am almost done! I turn for the finish line, and run for it! And can see I WILL break 9 hours! I finish the 50K in 8 hours 57 minutes!
With a stage race, there's not that much time to celebrate. The Mountain Institute provided another awesome dinner. I drank a few beers (2.5) and attended the 50 Mile race meeting. I was showered and in the tent at 8:15 Pm. The 50 Mile Race will start at 6 am, and I need all the rest I can get!!