It’s hard not to pass up a trail race that’s practically right in your back yard. At least that was what I was thinking 3 weeks ago when I discovered there was a trail race right here on Fort Benning…..even if I was scheduled to work that day.
Two weeks ago I printed the map of the trail from the race website and Greg and I headed out for what we though would be a somewhat challenging 13.1 mile trail run. The course was beyond anything that I ever would have imagined someone might consider run-able and we kept getting lost. I believe the markers we were following were actually from the year before so they were kind of hit or miss. Needless to say it was slow going. I lost count of the numbers of streams we crossed and I was intimidated by the hills. Not the ones that went up though….it was the going down. It was slippery, sloped and full of stickers and roots but as if that weren’t enough there it was. A rope on a trail in the middle of my run. Not something I’ve ever encountered before but quite necessary considering the slope was too steep to walk, made a 90 degree turn halfway down, and on the other side of said rope was nothingness. Of course our reaction to this discovery was “WTF?!”
As if that weren’t enough there were also swamps. Plural swamps. Two! One we went completely around because the water was so murky and we had no idea how deep. The other we decided to go through because at least you could almost tell how deep it was and what you were stepping on….until you got to the middle. That is the point where fright kicked in and I lost all sense of composure and screamed and ran the rest of the way across. It was because of snakes. I am so very afraid of the snakes and the possibility and so yeah, I lost it.
Five hours, just over 14 miles (we completely lost the trail at mile 9) and one small disagreement later and we finally made it back to my jeep.
The next morning I woke up immediately tried to create a plausible back out plan. I mean it took us 5 hours! If the race starts at 7 AM and I have to be at work at noon than how is this even possible? I had to spend the next two weeks convincing myself to tough it out, run faster and hopefully be able to finish in 3 1/2 hours or less so I can at least shower before going to work.
The night before the race I checked the race website and realized that I had the start time wrong. It actually started at 8 AM. Uh oh. Not looking good for me. Then there was also the fact that my Garmin display went out the week before and I didn’t even have a watch. Greg said he would let me wear his and he would just use his stop watch. So that was the plan. Three and a half hours or less with his Garmin.
The next morning I found myself at the start line two minutes away from the start realizing I had nothing on my wrist. That was the moment that I realized that I had laid everything out that I would need the next day except for the watch. Greg accepts some blame for this as well since he actually loaded our vehicle and plus it was his watch. In a split second we decided that I would be way too stressed out about time with having to go to work and all so he gave me his stop watch and then we were off.
I felt ok from the beginning as I watched him take off. I settled into a comfortable pace which turned out to be a 10 minute first mile. The second one was just slightly slower if the mile markers were correct. After that I have no idea of pace at all.
I spent the next 9 miles trading places with 5 young marines that I eventually passed for good right before the two mile mark. Shortly thereafter I passed another older guy that said his hips were killing him. I told him he was doing great and that he was still faster than the group of young marines behind him. He laughed.
At mile 10 the trail widened to a dirt road that is probably used for Humveea and such. I happened to look down and see “HI LARA” drawn in the sand and was tickled. Only my husband would stop in the middle of a race to write a message to me in the sand. 🙂 It was also at this point that I knew I would finish in about 3 hours which was a huge relief.
I crossed the finish line in 2:55. I received my challenge coin and went straight for the car. Twenty five minutes later and I was showered and on my way to work while Greg was heading to bed for a 3 hour nap.
Later that day I received a text from him that said “I’d rather ruck a marathon, this was the single hardest physical event of my life.”
Probably doesn’t help that he had to do a 6 mile ruck march 24 hours before the race. Probably helped me immensely that I am taking copious amounts of Prednisone right now. I guess UC flares can be good for something because I walked away from the experience thinking it wasn’t bad at all. 😉