I like to think of myself as a pretty positive, upbeat person. Obviously there are times, and things that get me down, but especially when it comes to activities like running that I do by choice, I really try to maintain my positive attitude, and I honestly think it makes a huge difference in how I perform, and in how much I enjoy races and training runs. I’m very thankful that Lori has the same sort of attitude, even when a run totally sucks we are always joking around and looking for the #brightside.
As soon as I heard the forecast for the weekend, and that it was likely to snow on Friday night, I texted Lori and said,
This gave me an idea for this race report, as we ran yesterday, Lori and I laughed and chatted and thought of a ton of #brightside ‘s. I was hoping to get to 42, one for each km, or 26, one for each mile, but so far I’m just at 21. I’d love for you to comment though and help me out, there must be at least 26, and maybe even 42 #brightside ‘s about running a hard trail run in the snow!
- Won’t get heat stroke! 4 years ago we ran the 10 mile course at this race, and Lori made a big mistake with her water, freezing the bladder in her pack, and wasn’t able to drink from it for the entire race. It was a horrible experience for her as she had heat stroke by the end of the race. She’s been looking for victory over this course ever since.
- The sun was shining. The race started at 8:30 am, it was cold in the parking lot. When I left the house there was frost on my windshield that I had to scrape off. The temperature in the parking lot was 0.5 * C, I have no idea what it was up on the mountain, but you can guarantee it was colder than this. Still the sun was shining, and we enjoyed the warm sun as we ran up the first section on the fire road. This first section is kind of blah, it’s just a logging/fire road, has rolling hills, but is mostly runable. During these longer trail races it always takes my legs a bit of running to warm up and feel in a groove, and I’m sure that made this road feel harder.
- Lots of steep hills to hike up. The next section is fairly steep and short trail that ends at an oil well. This is right near where Lori and I saw a grizzly bear a month or so ago.
- Lots of racers means we won’t be meeting any bears today!
- The snow on the green trees and grass is beautiful. From here we headed up on one of our favorite trails, Moose Packers, it switchbacks up towards the base of the trail that goes up the mountain. The first time we ran it, we thought it was crazy hard and steep, but since then we’ve been up it a couple times and it feels easier each time. The trees in this section were totally covered in fluffy heavy snow, it was a winter wonderland, and was so pretty!
- Got to sing Christmas carols. After Moose Packers there is a wide double track trail that heads up through the trees towards the treeline. The snow was starting to collect on the ground, and a lot of this section was hiking the hill. We chatted and even sang some Christmas carols that made the time fly!
- We didn’t have to run in the actual snow storm. Once we left the trees, the snow started to build underfoot, the skies were blue and beautiful. As hard as it was hiking up in the snow, it would have been so much harder to run in a snow storm. It was sunny and beautiful! Just before the turn around point, we put our winter shoe spikes on for a little downhill. We ran down to the turn around, and headed back up to the false summit and back down the mountain.
- We weren’t winning so didn’t have to break trail. The snow was pretty well packed down on the way down, so with that and our spikes, we could jog down the mountain fairly well. And even if we slipped…
- Fluffy snow to fall in. There was a ton of snow, so our landing would have been nice and soft!
- Got to sing Frozen songs “Do you wanna build a Snowman…”, and now you have that song in your head! You’re welcome 😉
- Halloween chocolate bars! I grabbed a handful of pretzels and a box of smarties from the aid station just before we headed back into the trees, popped the whole box of smarties into my mouth, the chocolate combined with the salty pretzels were super yummy!
- Good practice for eating real food on a run! I made a big ooopsie, and left my two flasks of tailwind in the fridge at home. I had my pack with a bladder of water, but no electrolytes or liquid calories. I didn’t stress too much though, because we were planning to run this fairly easy, and there would be aid stations that I could grab Gatorade or real food at. My stomach felt a bit iffy from the start, but I found that eating real food, especially the pretzels tasted good and gave me a good boost of energy. This was great practice for longer races, and gives me confidence that my stomach can handle real food on the run!
- Pretzels and coke. We flew back down Moose Packers, which was super fun, and down to the fire road again. We had about 3-4 km’s of fire road before we started around the telephone loop. We jogged this, and hiked the uphills. Just at the turnoff to the telephone loop, there was an aid station with more pretzels and coke. Lori filled a bottle with coke, and loved it. I filled my bladder with water and blue Gatorade powder, yum!
- The bog wasn’t as boggy as usual. The first few km’s of the telephone loop was pretty muddy and wet. Though we ran and hiked and kept chatting and moving forward. There is a section in here that usually is a giant swampy bog, the first year we ran the 10 mile course (just this telephone loop that we were ending with), the bog was huge and deep, almost knee deep! We were surprised that despite the rain over the last week, we could avoid the super deep spots and not get wet past our feet.
- The ice cold water made for a perfect ice bath for our feet, we were recovering before we even finished!
- I discovered Lori’s inner poet, she composed a poem on the fly from the Labyrinth about her victory over the telephone loop. As I mentioned, Lori had a brutal experience on her first race around this loop, then last year she had a knee injury and had to DNS, this was going to be her year to finally have a good race around the telephone loop! She was even composing poetry as we ran!
- As Travis Macy (the author of The Ultra Mindset) would say “It’s all good mental training!” As I ran this race, I was thinking what a complete training and running experience it was. We experienced so many different trail conditions and experiences, steep climbs, technical downhills, running on snow, on ice, through water, hard to read grassy trails, over boring gravel roads, and all those experiences will contribute to other races we will run.
- The last 5k wasn’t horribly muddy like we were expecting! We ran the telephone loop in the early spring and the last 5k had been torn up by quads or logging trucks or something, it was horribly muddy and because the ground had been torn up, the mud was sticking to our shoes, and made for really hard conditions. We were totally expecting the same for the last km’s of the race. Once we got there, the trail was way more packed than it had been in the spring, and though there had been a lot of rain over the last week, the trail was hard and not muddy at all. Our legs were tired, but we still managed to run the down hills and flat sections without towing 5lbs of mud on each foot!
- It was actually just over 40k, NOT 42. At that moment, neither Lori or I cared less about running an ‘actual marathon’ distance. At the last aid station, about half way through the telephone loop, the volunteer had told us there was only 7k to go, we looked at our garmins and thought, hmm that won’t be 42k, maybe he’s wrong, but I hope he’s right! When we finished my garmin was just over 40k, and I think Lori’s said 40.5 km’s. At that moment neither of us cared about running an ‘official’ marathon distance.
- Awesome badass medal at the finish! One of the best parts of running the marathon at this race is the medal, only the marathon finishers get a medal, and it’s an awesome medal, officially my favorite of my collection. The 29k runners run up the mountain and straight back down to the start, the marathoners do the same, but also run around the telephone loop, the telephone loop is NOT my favorite trail, it’s muddy, wet, has some grinding uphills without a reward of a view, is often on a wide quad trail, not on fun single track, but as I ran it, I kept reminding myself that the reward for enduring this part of the race was the medal, and it was totally worth it!
- We actually wanted the hot soup at the end! The last time we ran this race together, it was so hot that the last thing we wanted was hot soup, this year it was perfect!
- From Heather on FB – I got to spend 5 1/2 hrs running with my Best Running Friend doing what we both love! 🙂
- From my friend Lindsay – we came away with a great story!
- From my friend Alen (in Florida!) – we got to wear our nice cold weather gear!
- And Sara, who commented below – the cold snow on the trees brought out the wonderful pine smell, I totally agree with this one!
Lori and I finished side by side, in 5:29 according to my garmin, I’m still waiting for the official results to be posted with our placing. After our training run 3 weeks ago I had expected us to be closer to 5:00 hrs, but with the conditions, I’m really happy with the time, I think I can improve upon it, but for a first trail marathon, and longest timed run ever, I’m thrilled!
Update: Official results are up! We tied for 20th over all (out of 37) and were tied for 6th woman (out of 15), not too shabby!
*credit for both of the Moose Packers snowy pics goes to Alan Lam, thanks for posting them on FB!