Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Tale of Two Trails - Part 2 Whispering Pines

Whispering Pines was part 2 of a 5 series trail race that I hope to complete this year.  Race 1 was Possum Kingdom.  I went into this race pretty much untrained (stupid) and thinking, 'how could this be any more difficult that the last one'? was.

I was risin' and shinin' a bit after 4am to meet my friend Aimee for our epic road trip to Tyler State Park, which was just about 2 hours away.  Because I'm not a morning person, it *was* kind of cool to see the sunrise!  It was going to be a sunny day.

We met more friends at the park, including Pam, who was running her first trail race!  I chose the 50k, so I was able to run her entire race with her.  Even though that first loop took us about 3 hours, it flew by as we chatted and laughed the entire time.  We cracked up every time we'd come to something like this...

and felt as though we were in an episode of 'Survivor' at times.

Pam finished her race strong!  She collected her honey bear & then stayed a little while to cheer the rest of us on.

I grabbed a few snacks (trail food is the BEST) and headed out for my second loop.  The 50k (about 31 miles for the non-metrics) was a total of 3 loops, so it was nice to know what to expect the second and third time around, booby traps and all.  There was a hellishly steep climb within the first mile or two.  It was probably the worst of all the hills.  Unlike Possum Kingdom, where the hills were steep and rocky, these climbs were long and gradual.  Tiring.  Theyy were the kind that when you got to the top, you really felt as though you kicked some a$$ (or maybe it was you had your a$$ kicked)...maybe both!

what goes down, must go up
The woods were beautiful.  I almost felt as though I were in Minnesota.  Even though the sun was out and it was really warm and stale in spots, overall the trees kept everything shady and semi cool. Tolerable.

The trail itself was really soft, pine needles padded most of the trail.  Unfortunately, we had a really wet spring and there were still some mud pits to contend with.  Again, having gone around once already really helped with figuring out how to negotiate said mud pits.

There were two aid stations along the course. All stocked with cookies, rice crispy pars, potatoes, chips, soda.  All the junky food you could imagine!  When you run 30+ miles, any type of diet is off. This tribe also has the *best* volunteers ever.  They help you with whatever you might need, from simply holding on to something, to filling the water reservoir in your vest.

The second loop was strong for me.  I picked up my pace a bit, knowing that because I started 30 minutes late with the 10 milers, I had 30 minutes to make up so that I wouldn't miss the cut off.  Luckily, I finished that second loop with more than enough time to spare.  This race happened to be in the middle of our tragic journey with Tyrion as well.  Sometime around mile 16, I had gotten a call from his weekend vet saying that he was doing phenomenally well.  If there were anything that could've put a spring in my step at that moment, that was it.

For not really training for this, I don't recall ever feeling fatigued.  I felt great the entire race.  I think part of it due to the fact, that for once, I didn't take off from the start too fast.  Once those last 5 miles rolled around, I kicked it down and ran most of the way to the finish.  It was getting warm out and I was starting to feel like I might be getting a little dehydrated (despite all of my attempts to negate this).

A few miles before the end, I spotted the Roxie, the trail running wonder dog, not too far ahead of me on one of the switchbacks.  At some point I almost caught up and finished just behind her and her owner Harold.

Once I saw the banners for the third time, I knew I had this one in my pocket.  It probably wasn't my best effort, but I felt good the entire time and I will take that over a faster race any day.

It was my turn to get my honey bear, change into some dry clothes and just sit down!

My friend Faith, whom I ran the Dallas Marathon with, finished her first 50k just a bit after me. Aimee finished her race feeling great a little after Pam.  Monica was one of the awesome volunteers that day.

MRTT'ers - me, Faith, Aimee & Monica

I loved this race.  I loved Possum Kingdom as well, but for different reasons. Whispering Pines seemed so much like "home", like Northern Minnesota (except warmer); peaceful.

There is just something about running in the woods...both alone and with friends.  I've never felt so completely immersed in my thoughts, without distractions.  I feel like some of my best ideas come from thoughts I have while I am out on the trail.  It is completely addicting.

Race three of the five part series will be a night race....details coming soon.

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