Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Miners Revenge/That Damn Run - Long Run Report?

Well, it coulda-woulda-shoulda been a race report, had I not totally screwed up and missed the sign-up deadline!  But, in a fun little turn of events, my long run on Sunday gets to serve as an incredibly belated race report from last October - hooray!  And a bonus spectator report, because UIH was smart enough to sign up in time.  Let me explain...

Last October, UIH and I signed up (in time) to do a fun little trail Half Marathon called That Damn Half and I had one of the best days ever!  The race was awesome in every way:  the course was terrific, the swag was phenomenal (Pint glass!  Women's specific tech tee!), and I rocked the heck out of the race with a nice little (trail) half marathon PR!  Aaaaaaand, then I never blogged about it.  I have no earthly idea why, since I loved the race so much, and I took pictures and everything.  I assume I got busy, it happens.

Fast forward to Sunday, when UIH toed the starting line for the Miners Revenge Trail Marathon (there was a half option as well, which is what I had planned on doing).

Seriously, it was a starting line.
The full marathon course was two different loops of thirteen-ish miles each.  The first loop was uncharted territory for me, but the second loop was a reverse course of That Damn Run, so I decided to run it "backwards" - meaning, the same way I ran it at That Damn Run - so I could see the marathoners coming at me.  I figured that was a great way to cheer for UIH and get in my planned long run.  Genius!

I had some weird nerves going into the day, because I totally felt like I was banditting the race!!  Obviously, I wasn't going to eat at the aid stations or take a medal or anything, but I felt so guilty about running on a marked course without a bib.  I cheered at the start for UIH and all the runners who were smart enough to meet the deadline, then lingered for a bit, wandering back to my car to get my gear ready.  As I was walking back, a friendly voice called out to me, "You should be running this race!  So I could read about it on your blog!"  Hey!!  It was my AR50 aid station fangirl!  We chatted for a bit and I still didn't take a picture with her.  Next time, for sure.

I chatted with the RD for a minute, also, which totally helped me feel better about the whole "bandit" thing.  If the RD knew I was running the course for fun, then I must be okay!  He was super nice and friendly.

So, off I went!  Even though the course was marked, I was a little worried about getting lost.  There's some precedent for this fear, as you know, so I tried to be extra vigilant about watching for the blue ribbons marking the course.  I needn't have worried (yet), because the course was extremely well-marked.

Damn.  All told, my day included something like 4,200' of elevation change.
So, the first four miles was pretty much all downhill, which is a really lovely way to start a long run, other than that whole false sense of awesomeness thing.  I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling that I could run like the wind, but kept thinking about those poor marathoners who were going to spend Miles 22-26 climbing this bad boy.  Yikes!

You can't tell, but this was a very, very, very steep uphill, which is why I stopped briefly to take a photo and catch my breath.

Pretty view!

My trail buddy.  No clue what kind of lizard/gecko he is, but I saw five of these little guys during my run and I loved their coloring.  Also, you know how lizards usually dart around so quickly?  These guys were just sort of moseying, enjoying the scenery.
The weather was just about as perfect as it gets for me:  low 50s, nice cloud cover, not too much wind.  I spent nearly the whole morning with a smile on my face, enjoying the day.  As I arrived at Mile 5-ish (almost Mile 21 for the marathoners), I saw the volunteers setting up the aid station tent.  They were having some trouble with the pop-up, so I stopped and tried to help, with no luck.  I felt sort of bad that I'm not mechanically inclined, but since it was such a cool day, they probably didn't even need the cover.  It misted/sprinkled for a little bit, but there was never enough rain to be a big deal.

I thought a lot about That Damn Run while I was running.  I remembered a lot of the course and the friendly runners I had chatted with that day.  One guy had recognized me from another race we had both done, and another guy had joined our conversation, which meandered onto the topics of shoes, training for ultras and awesome local races.  There was one section of trail that I had particularly enjoyed last October, which was a little trickier on Sunday because it was somewhat overgrown and there was lots of poison oak.  It struck me how very different the trail looked in springtime versus late summer/early fall, which is the only time I've run it.

I saw the first marathoner coming at me when I was about seven miles into my day.  Yep.  He had run 19 miles in the time it took me to run seven.  Whatever.  I stepped off the trail and cheered for him.  He looked like he was out for an easy 5K, the way he blew past me.  I will never, ever look like that while running.
Second place guy was quite a ways back, then third place guy was pretty significantly behind them.  I was really happy about seeing the marathoners, though, because I knew I would get to see UIH soon!  I was running along, thinking how happy I would be to see him, when I came to this completely unmarked fork in the road:
Hmmmm, which way to go?
I stopped and scratched my head for a bit, trying to decide what to do.  I slowly headed in one direction, all the while looking back at the fork to see if any marathoners were coming from the other way.  Once it was just about out of sight and still no blue ribbons, I headed back.  Then I went the other way doing the same thing.  No marathoners, no blue ribbons.  I mentally retraced my steps, trying to decide when I had seen the last blue ribbon.  It had been a bit, so I decided to head back up the trail and see if I could figure out where I had gone wrong.  Less than a quarter of a mile later, I saw what I had done:  there were ribbons on a fence post next to a much smaller trail that I had missed because there were no ground markings.  Aha!  Back on course and only lost for about ten minutes.  Pretty sure that's a personal best for me.

My excitement about finding the trail didn't last long - less than another quarter mile on this trail, there was another fork with no ground markings that was in much denser trees and covering.  I wouldn't be able to see the other side of the fork if I traveled too far in either direction, so I stood there and waited for a marathoner to come through before I decided which way to go.  Thankfully, I barely waited a minute, and then I was off in the correct direction again!

I was at more or less Mile 10-ish for me, and was starting to see marathoners pretty steadily, but no UIH.  I told myself not to worry.  Just because I should have already seen him didn't mean anything was wrong, particularly since I had been off the race course for somewhere around ten minutes or possibly more.  I texted him.  No answer.  I tried the Find My iPhone app.  His location hadn't been updated since yesterday.  Okay, I was pretty sure he wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere, no need to panic.  So, I only panicked a little.  I kept running, going over the possibilities in my head.

This did not happen while I was lost, this was actually part of the trail.  There were several water crossings during the course, but the others were either very narrow or had walkable rocks.  Not this guy.  I looked up- and down-stream before deciding that the only way to get across was this one.  So of course I stopped mid-creek and took a picture.  Pretty sure everybody does that, amIright??
There were three distinct possibilities for what happened with UIH:  1.)  The first loop kicked his ass and he decided to call it a day at the half marathon, which meant he would have been waiting for me for quite some time and I should really get my ass in gear.  2.)  The first loop was still currently kicking his ass and he just hadn't gotten to me yet, or 3.)  The far more likely scenario - UIH was kicking everybody's ass and had shot past me like a rocket while I was out wandering in the unmarked fields.

And of course the answer was Number 3.  I returned to the starting area with just about 14 miles on my Garmin and checked in with the timing tent to ask if I could track a runner.  UIH had bolted through the first 13 mile loop in 2:15, something like the 14th person to cross the line (which included the speedy half marathoners who were finished with their day at that point!)  I was so excited for UIH!  He was having a great day!

I hustled out to the car to get my jacket and my post-run shake, then settled onto a rock to watch the runners coming through.  I knew if UIH had pushed the first loop so fast, that he would do his best to barrel through the second one, too.  Around four and a half hours on the clock, I knew I would see him any second, and I was right!

My amazing UltraIronHubs, finishing a trail marathon with about 10,000' of elevation change in a time that's faster than all but two of my wimpy road marathons!  He's such a beast!

Race schwag was a DUFFEL BAG and an awesome finisher's medal!  The super cool  pint glass was for winning second place in his age!

Next year?  Totally signing up for this race!!  Also, here are all the photos I meant to blog about way back last October:

Pre-race selfie!


The aid station volunteers were fantastic!

Little bit drier in October than it was in April, huh??

Post-race selfie!

Finish line decorations.

How the hell was I this fast just six months ago??

Have you ever been a "bandit" on a race course??  Ever forgotten to blog about a race for over six months??


coach dion said...

Bandit a race, NO, but If I'm not running the race I have oftern been on the route to shout for friends. If it's a trail race, I will head out like you did and go and suport all I can. some of the races allow seconds, so I will turn and run with friends for a couple of km.

In the last road race I watched I ended up with 17km of up and down running with friends!!! (my wife just stood/sat and watch!)

One Crazy Penguin said...

I love all the skeletons! And I definitely think "banditing" like you did is okay. You talked to the race director, didn't use any of the resources, and cheered your but off! That's just called being awesome :)

ajh said...

GReat pictures. The race swag is awesome and that pint glass is great. I love the half marathon sign.

HalfCrazed Runner said...

Great job! Looks like a really fun race!