Ohhhhh, where do I start?!?! I have such mixed emotions about this race. My first gut reaction: IT SUCKED! From beginning to end, it was just a plain awful race for me.
Well, on the plus side I rode up to the race with Daphne & Jean from Muscatine Running Friends. I had only met Jean that day, but Daphne I've known and raced with several times. She's a gem! So I hitched a ride up with them and it's wonderful to be in great company. Half way up there I realized I didn't pack my headphones. And cue dramatic music *dun-dun-duuuuuuun!* For me that is a big deal. After 2 gas station stops we found some for me to buy. Then began the fiasco of getting lost. I had never been there before and even though GPS took us to Lake McBride, it turns out we were on the wrong side of the lake. No wonder we couldn't find the right entrance. So a lot of twist and turns, asking strangers for directions, going down wrong country roads, slipping and sliding out of control (thank goodness we had a good 4 wheel drive truck, otherwise we might have ended up on the side on the road). Yeah, LOTS of fun stuff.
We FINALLY get to the race 10 minutes before it started. I ran in, grabbed my race packet, went potty, thew my gear in the staging area, lined up and 2 minutes later we started. That sounds rushed, but I was still pretty laid back about it all. Crap happens. Sure, I would have loved lots of time to prep, get ready, chat and hang out with other racers, but as a veteran racer I know how to roll with the punches and be ready to race as soon as we pulled in.
Within a few minutes of the gun going off and hitting the snow covered trail I knew this was not going to be a good run for me. I struggled from almost the first step. Seasoned runners know what I'm talking about. Sometimes you are just not on your A game. You don't have it in you to make it a good run. Yet, you run anyway. I mean, I was there, I paid for this race....of course I was going to run it.
Part of the course was on paved road. That was about the only good part of the race for me, but even then my pace was lacking. The trails were a whole other story. Part of the trail was pea gravel. During the first loop it was half ice covered, other half frozen solid. I had to dodge and weave around the trail to skip around the icy areas. The second loop, those same areas had thawed. There were still minor ice patches, but I spent a good portion of the trail dodging mud and trying not to run right through the puddles. The other parts of the trail were 100% snow covered. A few times the snow was firm and packed down, but a majority of the snow areas were soft, fluffy snow that gave me no traction. That wasn't too bad if I was on a flat surface. For the most part these were steep winding trails going up and down around the lake. For every step I took, I took a smaller one to make up for my foot sliding one direction or another. Imagine running through sand for 25 miles or so. No matter how hard I pushed or ran, etc. I just slid backwards a little bit with each step. It was so frustrating and I was near tears on many occasions. The downhills were challenging as well. You had to carefully step your way down the many steep hills or risk falling or sliding down. I slid several times and fell once. It wasn't a bad fall, but I ended flat on my back.
Since I fell so far back from the pack I was alone a good portion of the time. This did not help my morale at all. I did have lots of good music to listen to and just keep plugging away, one foot in from of another. I walked some and stopped once to change hats and take the bags off my feet. The scenery along the way was beautiful & breath taking at many times. Sure, I'm cursing away ever running in snow again, but a few times I had to stop, take a deep breath and just be thankful that I am alive and able to complete such a race. Despite all the "bad" of my day, I am still so blessed and surrounded by good.
This is getting kind of long. I try to stay away from long rambling posts. For me, it was a bad race & running experience. Horrible. So, I've concluded I'm not a snow racer. Not my forte. I still finished and had my fastest 50k time. Yeah, I PR'd despite it all! BOO to the YAH! I have plenty to hold my head high about and will take this as a learning experience.
I wish I had captured some pictures along the way, but I was so focused on just finishing I couldn't stop and do much else. I had no time to take before pictures. This one was snapped right after I finished:
I know there is so much more to tell you. I'll give you another post tomorrow.