One week prior to this race I had a trail run on my schedule where I was instructed to attack the hills and run hard for 1:15. Actually, it was on my schedule for Saturday after an open water swim but I wasn’t feeling up to a hard run that day so I pushed it to Sunday. We headed out to Kennesaw to do the Kolb Farm/Cheatham Hill loop when I saw on facebook they were going to be doing cannon firings at the Illinois monument. John had Betty along for his “recovery” run so we decided to cut the 5.6 mile loop short and just do 5 while avoiding the monument. Who knows how crazy Betty would react to the cannons? Turns out Betty could not have cared less. Elevator dings freak her the f’ out but she is all good with cannons.
The run went well, I pushed hard up all the hills and finished in 55 minutes. Probably the fastest I have ever run that trail. John actually remarked I was running fast that day.
The rest of the week consisted of 3 more runs and a swim that didn’t happen (the reasons why were many but in the end lack of motivation sealed the deal). I took it easy for 5 miles at the GUTS Tuesday night run and enjoyed chatting with Kim, one my fellow Lou-natics. Wednesday was supposed to be a quick run with a few short bursts of speed. I took Betty with me on the Comet and it was not a good run for either of us. Usually Betty gets in run mode and nothing gets in her way. That day Betty had to pee and poop about every 50 feet. Now this would have been a real pain if I was in training mode but turns out my left hip was starting to hurt a LOT. Every time I tried to really run it acted up. So, we did a 45 minute walk/run of sorts and that workout was a wash.
I took the day off work on Friday since packet pickup ends at 6:00. Last year was extremely stressful trying to get out of work and then fight traffic to get there in time. They have a nice expo in the riverfront park so I wanted to get there with plenty of time to enjoy the afternoon in Chattanooga. Last year we stayed in town and made the drive up to Signal Mountain for the race start. This year they offered camping at the school for $25. Since I wasn’t doing the 50K I thought sleeping on the ground would probably be OK prior to the race. I learned Thursday, via facebook, that Friday was going to be Signal Mountain Middle school’s Homecoming and we were assured that the festivities would die down by 10:30. Oh joy!
I slept in, got a few things done around the house and dropped off the dog. I did a survey on facebook to see which outfit to wear and skeleton girl won out unanimously. I scooped up my clothes, dumped them in the bag and packed the rest of my gear. This will come back to bite me on race day. We packed the car and headed out.
|3 outfit choices|
The drive to Chattanooga was uneventful and we arrived in good time. We went straight to the expo and found it to be less interesting than in years past. We checked in and since not much was going on at the park despite it being a beautiful day we headed over to the nearby Brewhaus for some food and beer. Our friend Leah met us there along with Joel and his cousin Bobby. We hung out for a bit and then headed back to the park for the panel. It was comprised of a few of the top runners from Salomon and Vasque team and Max King the expected winner. I didn’t know any of these people and this was again a little less exciting than the North face speaker series they had done the last 2 years. While the panel was going on I snuck over to take some pictures of the hot air balloons that were in progress next door.
This is why I love Chattanooga. Every time I have been there it seems very outdoor oriented. The riverfront park is beautiful and there is a lot of fun things going on, neat shops and everyone just seems really fit. There are tons of trails to run and it’s just very “granola-ey” for lack of a better word. Its the same vibe I get in Portland, OR. I wish Atlanta seemed more focused on creating a great place for people to vacation and enjoy the outdoors. Sigh, back to the race report….
We drove to Signal Middle School and as reported the parking lots were packed and there was a football game going on complete with marching bands. Yay! The school is on a huge campus and we wound our way around to the soccer fields. There was someone waiting there to instruct us on the camp site and we began to set up camp. The noise from Homecoming wasn’t too bad so I figured things would be OK. There was a bathroom close by and we got our stuff settled and got ready for bed. I realized I forgot to pack calf sleeves despite having the matching ones laid out for the other 2 outfits. Grr! Oh well, my legs might be a little cold but I was only going 11 miles so I should be fine. (I would repeat this refrain numerous times between now and the start of the race). I read for a bit and then just as I was drifting off to sleep I realized something else I forgot. A jog bra!! Doh!!! So, not good. Hmm, well I was wearing a tank with a shelf bra to sleep in so I guess that was going to have to do. If it got really hot it was going to be uncomfortable and gross under my shirt but not much I can do about it now. Again, I am glad its only 11 miles.
I slept well and we woke up unstressed since were only a half a mile from the race start. John dressed and went to the bathroom while I organized my stuff. When John got back I swear I heard rain drops on the tent. What????? The one thing I purposely did not pack was rain gear because the weather report said 0% chance of rain. Zero percent is pretty damn strong. Clearly, there is no honor among weatherman. Well, crap! Maybe it will stop by race time. So, not only do I not have a jog bra, I don’t have calf sleeves which will keep my legs warmer and less muddy(!) and it is raining. Awesome! I was originally feeling whimpy about not doing the 50K but now I was SO glad I was only doing 11 miles.
I changed, made a pit stop, grabbed some breakfast and then we headed up to the start line. Parking is always a premium at the start but I guess the bad weather scared some people off. We got a great spot and waited in the car until start time.
|The view on a clear day|
When I did the 50K last year – my race report – I was blown away by the spectacular views of the river and the beautiful but technical trails. I really enjoyed this race and set a 50K PR that I broke at MS50 last spring. The pretty part of the race was across Suck Creek Rd and I knew the 11 miler did not go that way. I had no idea what the course was but figured we would just wind around the back of the school campus and it would be boring at best. With the rain and mud I figured the views would be less than spectacular and I wasn’t missing out so it was good that I was only doing the 11 miler.
|The overcast starting line|
John and I lined up and the gun went off. The 11 mile course split almost immediately from the 50K pack. I stayed with the main pack for a bit and we only got gridlocked at a couple of spots. Soon I was running hard to keep up and my watch let me know I was in zone 5. Cool! I backed off a bit and was soon in a smaller pack. At one point a few speedsters flew by us and I assumed that the 50K’ers must convene with our trails at some point yet none of these trails seemed familiar. I found out later in the day that the lead pack of the 50K got lost and had to double back and eventually dropped out. There is something to be said for going a little slower and never losing your way.
I was running steady and my cranky hip only seemed to bother me on hills. Good thing there were none of those! I found that my inner knee also started hurting at the same time. It was not horrible and I kept moving. Soon I heard the helicopter and saw that we were approaching a clearing. We were getting to see the river and had an awesome view, too bad it was covered in fog. Oh well. I ran up to the clearing just as the helicopter swung by and waved for the camera! I continued on in pursuit of 2 girls ahead of me. We ran together for a while but soon the lead girl was out of sight. There was pack of 6 guys who kept stopping for pictures and then catching up again. Next thing I know I see lead girl on the ground and the pack of guys phoning for help. I guess she fell but she looked OK to me. Things were covered so I ran on.
About this time I felt a sharp, focal pain in my right thigh. Damn, that hurt! I could only assume that I had been stung by a bee. This continued to burn on and off throughout the race and again made me thankful I was only running 11 miles. I soon found myself in a pack of 4 with 2 women in front of me and a man behind me. I asked him if he wanted to go ahead of me but said he was fine where he was. In a way this pushed me along since I sensed him behind me at every step. I soon overtook the women in front of me who stopped for some walk breaks. I kept running up the hills and he kept following me. I came upon 2 more girls who sped up when they realized I was behind them but they were actually more cautious than me on the slippery trails and I eventually passed them. This is when I started to keep track – 4 down.
Around the next turn the trails started to look familiar and there was the mushroom rock aid station (pictures in last years race report). Thankful again I was only doing the 11 miler since this was the beginning of a 2 mile downhill that you have to come back up on the return of the 50K. The volunteers complimented me on my shirt and remarked that they saw a guy wearing the same thing on the 50K trail. I said yup, that’s my husband. They instructed me to stay right and I gratefully headed to the finish line.
After a long uphill climb, which I walked, the trail flattens out and is very wide and runnable. You wind around the back of the school and head towards home. There are a few more steep hills but by far this is the easiest 3 miles of the course. Here I passed 11 guys – seriously! They were all moving slow and looked slightly beaten and I relished running by them. This was quite fun! Soon I was back on the road and headed home with a finish time of 2:47. Not exactly what I had planned on but then again I had no idea of the trails or conditions. I was a little down but soon realized that there were people still finishing over an hour after me and that picked up my spirits a bit.
I quick got out of my wet clothes and into something dry and warm. The rain had stopped but it had gotten quite chilly. I grabbed some food and got a quick massage. I saw the 50K winner cross the finish line – 30 minutes slower than last years winner. The conditions and the fact that the lead pack dropped out contributed to such a slow time. Seriously, 4:15 to run a technical, muddy 50K. Geez, my grandmother could kick your ass.
Now it was time to pack up the tent. I drove back to the soccer fields to find our tent on its side – we didn’t stake it down. I wish I had taken a picture. It looked ridiculous. I told John I was going to to the godzilla approach and just collapse the tent and throw it in the car but he was not a fan so I took it down and packed in nicely away and headed back to the finish line. I grabbed a beer and read my book for a bit.
Soon it was time to wait for Leah and John to finish which they did in short order. Leah smoked the course and had also suffered a bee sting. She later developed a severe case of hives and had to visit the ER. John had a 20 minute PR despite falling 3 times. He looked pretty torn up and was again cursing all the rocks on the course. Me, I was again glad that I only did 11 miles. Turns out it was actually 11.55 according to my Garmin but who’s counting?
We hung out for a bit and headed home without incident. My bee sting continued to throb and itch and I have had a nice welt for 3 days now. Not to mention a few scratches that would have been avoided with calf sleeves. No hives though. I was pretty sore until today which is a sad state of affairs. My fitness level has plummeted. I have slacked off but not entirely. Its time to kick it back into gear but I am still fighting burnout. I’ve got another trail race this Sunday. Hopefully, this will go a bit better. My hip feels much improved and I have been stretching it. Then it’s B2B relay and then train until Mountain Mist 50K in January.
As for Stump Jump – I highly recommend this race. Chattanooga is close and the 11 mile race is just as scenic and challenging as the 50K. However, there is no medal, no free meal, no nothing for the 11 miler people so keep that in mind. It’s all about the 50K which I look forward to next year.
|Mud and blood post race|
|The worst of John’s scrapes|