LOVE HARDER , EAT BETTER & EXPLORE FURTHER
Over the river(s), through the wood(s) and up the mountain(s) we go.
Grand Viduta Stage Race - My first Stage Race, Huntsville's first Stage Race, and whole lot of fun and worth taking some sick time to run 13 miles Friday morning.
Friday - 13 Miles, Land Trust Conservation Trails
For once I was glad that I work such early hours normally during the week - so sleeping till 6:00 AM on Friday morning was like a vacation. Till the nerves of getting ready to run at race pace 3 days in a row set in.
Luke got up and made us some coffee - I married a man who gets up at 5:15 AM everyday to make me coffee and kiss me off to work. Even though he doesn’t have to get off to work till nearly 8:00. I’m a spoiled brat.
Scarfed some breakfast, watched the news and relaxed before heading out the Land Trust - one side of the Monte Santo trail system which you can enter off Tollgate Road. I was excited for this first day, not only was I taking a half day away from the office AND doing my favorite activity, but on some of my favorite trails as well. About 2 miles from our apartment we can hit the trail heads for the Land Trust, hell I spent more time climbing Waterline repeats then I want to remember preparing for GDR.
Day 1 is twisty, turny, topsy, turvy and hits nearly every trail on this side of the Mountain. I am truly glad I know the trails and researched the course a bit because it could definitely have gotten a little confusing [PSA some of the lead runners, including myself, had to run under tape on a section of course that we looped back on to - although there was a sign to take this turn it was definitely a little nerve-wracking to run under marking tape!].
I kept my effort under control and ran most of the race with the nice gent named Darren. I knew that bombing out of there trying to keep up with Sarah [Woerner] and Emily [Ansick] would only lead to disaster later in the weekend. Climbing waterline was more fun than usual - it wasn’t mile 20 of Mountain Mist AND there were ropes! The ropes were actually a godsend in the slippery mud - I engaged some leftover GDR climbing muscle and all the pushups I worked on so my arms looked great in our wedding pictures :)
I knew I had finished third female - come to find out, Sarah took a wrong turn in the last few miles (where we had to run under to tape) and ended up running an extra 7 miles! That girl has some grit. That put Emily Ansick a few minutes in front of me and Sarah with a bit of time to make up over the next few days.
Saturday - 16 Miles - Monte Sano State Park
Day 2 - a little bit longer, but a little bit easier. 16 miles on the North Side of the Mountain utilizing a lot of the trails I use for long runs and that several local races utilize. Today was scheduled to be a bit warmer, but at least that meant the trails would be a bit drier (and that I would definitely be running this day with a full water bladder). The whole atmosphere of this race becomes so much fun on the second day - we know we’re all a little tired, about to get more tired, but happy to be out there all the same.
My legs didn’t feel too sleepy from the day before and I was excited for how much downhill we were going to get today with only a few rolling climbs. I’m definitely a technical runner and an endurance runner, short easy stuff just ain’t my thang.
We start and somehow I end up leading off the ladies for a little bit while we enjoy the lollipop on Cold Springs trail, I quickly realized my mistake and backed off a bit. I could definitely feel my post-GDR sleepy leg syndrome still and I felt like my pace was just slower than normal. I felt great on Mountain Mist, a quick climb and on to Bucca, put down some solid speed and got to spend time in my little running bubble. And then the day just felt LOOONNGGGGG, especially running along Keith and Logan Point. Although I generally love these trails for their shady rolling parts, I just felt like it was dragging and the air was still and it was so HOT.
Finally I got to see Shelby’s pretty aid-station face where we met back up with Mountain Mist Trail and I knew I was home free. Just the rest of Mountain Mist, to Cold Springs [one last climb] and then some road and trail to the finish at the train tracks. I finished 3rd Female as originally seeded, only a few minutes behind Sarah and Emily.
Sunday - 14 Miles - the Day of Many Yawns
I’ll keep this short and sweet. This day sucked. I hated starting the morning barely able to stop yawning. I started early with my caffeinated Tailwind and hoped everything would work out. On a brighter note my legs felt pretty great, but I knew the climbs were coming and they were going to come hard [that’s what she said].
First up, the climb up Warpath - a favorite of mine. Short and steep and technical, I had lost the women around mile 4 after keeping a good pace trying to wake up and was just now losing two men I had been chasing. Seeing Luke at the aid station at the top of Warpath was a nice surprise, chugged some Coke and tried to keep from yawning in his face. We headed down Rest Shelter, a fun downhill to you get halfway and it gets a little technical and the-ever-clumsy Liz rolled her ankle - OF COURSE halfway through the last day of the stage race. Luckily this wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I tied my shoes tighter and kept on trucking but lost a LOT of time dealing with that pain in the ass. We got some flat stuff but then the dreaded mile-long-climb up Arrowhead commenced - this broke me a little.
Topping out and running Natural Well things started to turn around, I sprayed my head down at the aid station hose, sucked in some more Tailwind and proceeded to descend Natural Well - probably my least graceful trail work of all time. Just stayed positive waiting to see Death Trail - just like the stairs at the end of Georgia Death Race I have a sick, twisted passion for Death Trail. I love it, I don’t do it enough, its not really runnable, but its fun for me. Put your hands on your quads, smile and bear it.
I knew the finish line was a bit further after you top out, so I kept on running to the Amphitheater where there was music, my husband and FOOD.
Soaked to the bone - I hugged the ladies and got into dry clothes ASAP. I took a hoe-bath in the sink too as all the pollen off the leaves was making me itch something fierce.
Ending up in Second Place felt great - even though I knew Emily, Sarah and I were about seeded correctly. They put on amazing performances and even though the weekend could have gone differently - that’s trail running right? This ain’t no road marathon with 3459823 course sentries. RunningLane, near and dear to my heart, put on a great event.
Luke Hough & Liz Canty
Liz Canty and Luke Hough. Co-habitants who like to run, race, explore and drink much too expensive beer. Read along through the awesome, the sweaty, the daily life and the occasional bickering over which running shoes are the best…