Many weeks ago when I signed up for this race it sounded like it would be fun. My usual trail cohorts had lots of other things on their agendas so I needed to find a trail buddy or two otherwise it wouldn’t be very fun to run around in the dark by myself. I have no problem with this during daylight hours but alone in the dark sounded kind of lame. My friend Michelle is relatively new to the whole trail running thing but was entertaining joining me. Her apprehension was the distance since she had only run a handful of 5Ks prior but she had run up to 6 miles at one time. I assured her that I would stay with her and we would take frequent walk breaks and it would be fun!
We did the practice run a few weeks back and for the most part things went well with the exception of a tumble on Michelle’s part. Once it got dark and we were navigating the rooty/rocky parts inside Sweetwater park, the culprit appeared to be inadequate lumens. Michelle got a brighter light for race day.
Race week was upon us. I started getting sick the Saturday before the race. I still had plenty of time to recover before the following Saturday but as the week progressed things were not looking good. Severe chills, dry cough and body aches progressed to cold symptoms. By Friday I had a splitting headache due to clogged sinuses. Saturday I awoke to a torrential downpour and my headache was no better so I decided to visit Urgent Care once I got off work. After 90 minutes I finally had secured a prescription for antibiotics. The pharmacy was less than speedy so I ended up driving home in tears from sheer exhaustion. Even John was hip to the fact that I was miserable and offered to drive me back once I got something to eat. He also suggested that running in the rain at night might not be the best plan. I agreed but since I had convinced Michelle to do this run with me I was going no matter what. I grabbed a 45 minute nap and then prepared for the race.
Thankfully, it had stopped raining. Temps were supposed to remain in the mid 40s so as long as it didn’t start raining again I thought I would be OK. I felt better after the nap and was ready to go. Michelle and Mason arrived and we all headed out to Sweetwater State Park. We checked in, got a number written on our hand (fancy!) and picked up our Tshirts. We made last minute adjustments to gear and got ready to run. A few more friends were there while others opted to skip the muck (don’t blame them). And we were off.
Things were initially crowded but soon thinned out once we got out on one of the park roads. We pushed a bit in the beginning but as soon as things eased up Michelle was having some problems. Her stomach had been causing her grief all night so she opted to take some medicine to ease things a bit. It seemed to do the trick and we were quickly back on the trail. I felt good about knowing exactly where we were going with our previous practice run and multiple runs in the park. The time was passing quickly and I felt pretty good all things considering. Soon we were at the halfway point. We made a quick stop so Michelle could put some biofreeze on a cranky hamstring and we were on our way again. Back into the park and soon we were climbing the rocks of the white trail in reverse. Amazing how different a trail can seem in the dark in the opposite direction than you are used to. The river was roaring and it was a shame that it was so cloudy. It would have been a perfect night to run otherwise. The temps were great. I felt surprisingly good all night and soon we were almost at the finish line.
It started to sprinkle the last 1.5 miles which became a hard rain once we finished (making me very glad I didn’t opt for the 20 miler like I once planned). Michelle’s hamstring was still being cranky so hills were painful but she was a trooper. We climbed the final hill and there were the flashing lights for the finish line. Yay! Mason and John were there to meet us with beer and warm clothes. Even better!
It was a great race. Lots of fun, well marked and brought lots of $$ into the park on an otherwise crappy day. Go Yeti Races!!
Michelle finished her longest race ever – in the mud and dark with stream crossings to boot! Very happy to be a part of that! I also survived the late week at work despite being super sick and miserable and I managed to finish this damn race. Now to get everything else back on track!