Monday, October 17, 2011

WV Trilogy 50 Mile Race Report

Wv Trilogy 50 Mile Race Report Race Scorecard:

Mental/Emotion Attitude: A
Physical: F So I guess if you average those together, it's a "C". But this was not an average effort.

The only reason it's an "F" is because it goes with those other two letters "D" "N" as in Did Not Finish.

But you've already heard that whine, so I won't dwell on that. What I would like to chat about was my attitude. In 2010, I defeated myself on the 50 miler. I think this year the course defeated me.

There are two time cutoffs on the 50 mile course: 3:30 pm at the Horton Aid Station, and 7:10 pm on the Allegheny Mtn Trail Aid Station. If you can make these cutoffs, you can finish the race. These cutoff times correlate well to the runners time who did finish the race. I heard alot about the cutoffs, from Thursday on. I ignored them. I had worked out my times and splits for each section.

Then I left them in Ohio. Not on purpose, but oh well, that was fine. I knew I wanted to be at the Whites Run AS at 1230pm. I didn't have much spare time/wiggle room, even with my predicted finish time of 13 1/2 hours. But that's what I thought I could finish the race in. So that's 1/2 hour of spare time. Not much; but realistic.

So, having these realistic goals, I did not worry about the cut offs.I have learned, at races, that worrying about cutoffs can actually take a physical toll on you. You lose energy on this. Add in some emotional distress about it, and you're digging yourself a big hole before the race even starts.

The race starts promptly at 6 am, and we are off! I make sure I stay in the pack of runners, so I am not DFL and lost in the meadow. I successfully traverse the meadow out of The Mountain Institute and we are on our way to Spruce Knob! I chat with Darcy on the climb here, and it's not as bad or big as I remember it. (Psst, Kimba, maybe you have improved..)

We turn on the asphalt road to the summit, and are rewarded with the beautiful view of a very pink sun over the mountain! It's not foggy this morning, and we are rewarded with awesome views. We are above the clouds-there is fog in some of the valleys below. I catch up to Elizabeth here, who is taking some pictures. I discard the long sleeve shirt and light to Adam, replenish some water, and head down the Huckleberry Trail on my way to Judy Springs. Today it's a 9 mile stretch to the AS.

I feel I am running well down Huckleberry, yet it is quite some time before I catch another runner, which is Kate. I compliment Kate and her strong downhill running. There's a nice big downhill, and then a right hand turn onto the High Meadow Trail. I almost miss it, since there is a tree down almost right at the intersection, but I spot a blue WVMTR ribbon on the other side. I only go a few feet down the trail when I stop for a bathroom break.

When I step back on the trail, I see Kate..then I see Kate still heading downhill, following the Huckleberry. I get her attention, and get her on the right trail. High Meadow is tough. It's tough always; rocky and muddy and you can't really get a decent running pace going with all the stops and starts. Now we've added fresh trees down. I just ran this section in August, and none of these trees were down then. This is the Sunday snow storm damage. I pass two hikers, and have to duck through a downed tree, and then I trip and go down. A tree branch has impaled itself in my thigh. I remove it; at least it's not deep. It's not bleeding much so I don't worry about it.

I hit the High Meadow and get the super awesome views again, AND the downhill through the meadow. On this trail, you actually get to run in three meadows. I believe that is to make up for having to go Uphill on the Horton Trail today. I'm still feeling fine. Energy is good, attitude is great, body feels fine. I get to Judy Springs, see the gang, grab some food, and head on out to conquer the Horton. I glance at my watch at the bottom of Horton. It's a one mile climb, and I want to better my fifty minute climb from last year.

Somewhere on the climb up Horton, I notice my Garmin has stopped. Somewhere the button got punched, probably through a tree somewhere. Well shoot. Now I have no idea of my time. I'm sure I lost my little bit of cushion on the Horton Trail. I get to the top, and take the right hand turn for the Whites Run Section. I'm not sure, in my head of the distance to the AS, I think it's around 5.5 miles. So I start down Whites.
See that big downhill, right at mile 25? That is where White's AS is.

I lost the trail on Whites for a bit. Elizabeth caught up to me and hollered, she was on the trail. This was a section of so many blowdowns I couldn't find a blue blaze or a blue ribbon. Since I had been on this trail before, I knew to follow the ridgeline.

When I catch up to Elizabeth, she asks me "Do you think we can make the cutoffs?" I am surprised. "Well, yeah, we can." But this is the first time all day a bit of doubt has entered my mind. The traversing of White's Run didn't help. Any little bit of climb I cheered-that would be downhill coming back. But there was alot of downhill. I ran all of that as fast as I can, trying to make up some time. It was frustrating too, that I knew the section, and I knew when the trail started following the side of the mountain, we would be almost to the AS.

But it took a long time to get there. I had my two liter hydration pack filled up, I left with two handhelds. I reset the Garmin here. I hear what time it is, although I would have rather not know. I believe they told me it was 1.08 pm. I wanted to get into this AS at 1230 or 1245 at the latest. And I have 8.8 miles to get to Horton AS by 330 pm.

It is a very slow climb out of Whites. I encounter the mother/son team, and then Kate is behind them. I glance at my now functioning Garmin and tell Kate she has .66 miles to the AS. I am very disheartened to see it's taken me 19 minutes to go that .66 mile. I turn on my music.

Now I am having my pity party here. I have too much weight in the pack, I empty one of my handhelds. I want to dump some of the water too, but I don't have time to stop. I start to hyperventilate a bit and tear up. Then I get a grip and put both earphones on. I tell myself "your only job is get up this hill" and I keep repeating this over and over. I focus on the ground in front of me, with small glances now and then with the neverending climb. This goes on for quite a while.

Then I catch a glimpse of legs ahead and cheer up.  As slow as I am, I've caught up to someone!

I actually pass two guys. They are very quiet and unhappy.

Now I see Suzie ahead. I catch her and she's not unhappy! 

We stay pretty close and it helps both of us to have someone to talk to.  I'm getting mad at the downed trees and just tell Suzie to just go through them. She does, promptly trips and does a full body plant in the tree.

But since we got to the downed trees, we know this is back at the  beginning of  White's Run, and we should be looking for the Blue Pie Plate to direct us on a right hand turn down Horton, on our way to Horton Aid Station.

Suzie whoops and starts down the new trail. I glance at my watch.  I believe it said 3pm. And my Garmin read 6 miles.  So I got 30 minutes to go 2.8 miles.  The heart sinks.

But it's downhill.  I get after Suzie, and then the mind starts thinking...What if your Garmin is wrong?  What if the time and mileage is off?  Wouldn't it SUCK to miss the cutoff because you think you can't do it??

And it's downhill.  "Come on Suzie we can DO IT" I bellow and pass Suzie.  Now I've turned into Kimba the wild trail runner. I  pass Angie.

I am doing some crazy assed down hill running.  I'm impressed with myself. I have no fear.  I do think to myself  "Kimba, if you had ran like this earlier, you wouldn't be in this spot now.."

The trail follows the creek, and I keep looking for the road. I know the AS will be at the road.  Every late summer sunshine glow, I think this will be the break, and the road will be there.

I glance at the watch. It's 330pm.  I keep going. Maybe it's right around the next corner, and if it's just a few minutes over, I will keep going and am pretty sure the AS Captain will let me..

Still no road. Crap. I keep going.  Finally, I see an appliance in the creek(I think it was a washing machine) and I know it's close if I am seeing trash.

Michelle is waiting for me.  It's 345pm.  I am over, but I can go if I want..but I have to go faster.

I decide to stop.  I've really pushed myself on this section.  I can't see how I can get faster.  If it was ten minutes or less...yes, I would have gone for it.

At least I dug myself out of that pity party on White's Run and I did give it my all coming down Horton.  That did redeem my DNF for me.  That was some good downhill running.  I did not quit, I did not worry about the cutoffs, and I did not let them affect me emotionally or mentally.

Could I have made it without the tough course conditions? Yes,I think I could have.  The downed trees added another level of difficulty to an already tough course.  But that's no excuse. There were plenty of runners who had to climb around, through, under the same trees as I.

So ends the Trilogy for me.  I did not run the 1/2 marathon the next day, as I didn't see the point.  I was able to get home much earlier in the day, since my dog had surgery on the Thursday that I left on, and I wanted to relieve my husband as single care giver.

The WV Trilogy is a great race. Well organized, beautiful trails and views, and that special place at the Mountain Institute.  I highly recommend this race to everyone!


  1. Sounds tough and beautiful, thanks for the writeup. Next fall, no marathon training, I'm gonna get my fill of trails!
    Downed trees are a huge pain and delay. You got some more experience on the course, next year, you'll show it who's boss!

  2. I read your one moody post, no problem.

    I think you're head was not in the game on the 50 miler because of your dog's surgery. It happens to the best of us.

    I think all you need is a little man lovve.



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