In brief. . .
Nutrition: I drank water for the first two hours. After two hours, I drank one bottle of Perpetuem and one bottle of water. I took two endurolyte capsules with my gel/bar each hour. I made sure to drink plenty of water with the endurolytes and gel/bar. For this race, the majority of my nutrition came from gels. I loved the Hammer raspberry gel. It was so good.
clothes/shoes/pack: I wore shorts, tank and sport’s bra by Lululemon. I was comfortable and cool, no chaffing. I bought some new compression socks for this race, CEP, in black. They were great. I wore my trusty Montrail Bajada’s. These are neutral shoes with good traction on the bottom. I have worn these for two years now. You can always find these at a good price. I wore a headsweats’ visor. I wore an Ultimate Direction AK vest.
Course/Race Director (RD): TOUGH course. I have trained for and run three trail races in the past two years, (2) 50Ks: Stump Jump and Gnaw Bone, (1) marathon, described as the hardest marathon in TN, Savage Gulf. Ruffner Mountain Crusher Ridge was the toughest to date. It was a hilly race, for sure. I think the hardest part for me was the technical nature of it and the descents. I really did not mind that it was a 13 mile course that each runner would run once for 13 miles, twice for 26.2 or three times for 39 miles. I liked studying/learning the course on the first lap and knowing the course on the second lap.
The RD, Vanessa Stroud organized a great race. She was very accommodating. She was at the scene all day. She was at the finish as each runner came through. She even spent time, before the race, answering a million questions from me. 🙂 Vanessa, herself, is an accomplished trail runner. Click on her name a watch a bit of her Western States recap. If you are not familiar with Western States, it is a 100 mile endurance race starting in Squaw Valley, CA and finishing in Auburn, CA. She designed a tough, challenging course at Crusher Ridge.
Recap of the day: I was excited. I wanted to run 39 miles. I was hoping to finish BEFORE dark, in at least 10 hours. The first lap was a wake up call. I was emotional. I got lost, briefly, three times. My lower back was hurting. I was running the entire first lap without my shuffle. It was very technical: loose rocks, roots, large rocks, steep ascents and even a spot to scale down a dirt wall with a rope. (This was my favorite part!!) About mile 11, I started to really, really doubt myself. My back was still hurting. This surprised me. I just do not let myself think negative thoughts in a race, especially at the beginning!!! At mile 12, one of the aid station workers was cheering me on to mile 13 of the first lap. I nearly collapsed on her with a hug and streams of tears falling down my face. As she encouraged me with a hug, I kept saying to her how hard this race was and I was only at mile 12. (Oh Boy).
I texted Kay and Amy, “this is the hardest thing I have ever done.” I texted Byron, “I am stopping after the first lap.” Let me tell you that if you receive a text from me on a day that I am running, there is probably something wrong. 🙂 I ran into the first lap and told Vanessa that I was not doing 39. I would do one more lap. I still had tears running down my face. The people there were a bit worried about me. I reassured them, through my drippy eyes, that my body was GREAT, but my mind was off. I stopped at the aid station, called Byron and told him to be there in 3 1/2 hours because I was doing one more lap.
The tears continued on and off for the next mile. I started to talk to myself. “You are strong. You are trained for this. You can do it. You are strong. You are trained for this. You can do it. You are strong. You are trained for this. YOU CAN DO THIS.” So, shuffle on, food/water in, consume three ibuprofen for my back, settle into my zone. . . It was still hard. The tears stopped. I relaxed. My back felt great in 30 minutes. . . The next 13 miles were WAY better than the first. I did come to the conclusion that because of the technical nature of the course that no matter how I felt at the end, I was not doing another lap. I have not run on a trail for more than 3 miles with a headlamp, and it was not worth it to try it now.
I crossed the line in 6h 54 min. I went a total of 27 1/2 miles (I got lost 3 times on the first lap and once on the second lap). I was content to finish. I felt good. I fueled well the entire race. Vanessa and Byron were waiting at the end for me. Vanessa told Byron that she was willing to run a few miles with me, if I wanted to continue. I chose to be finished. It turned out to be a great adventure. NO two trail races are alike. They are all tough at some point. Some are just tougher than others.