This is the longest race report ever. Sort of like this race.
Number of miles: 13.2
Number of steps: 37,000 according to my Fitbit before it gave up and cried.
Number of peanut butter/jelly sandwiches: 3 total
Number of snakes I saw: 1
Number of bugs I ate: 4…One of those WITH the PB&J.
Number of times I cursed the ground Becky walks on: countless
Number of times since I finished that I said “I love Becky!!!”: countless
Number of times I’ve completed a TA: 3
Number of times I will return: Until they scrape my body off the earth
This my absolute favorite trail race of my very short 6 year running adventure. It’s in Summerville, GA which is a 3.5 hour drive from my front door to the incense filled doorway of the Coach Inn. If you like camping, go ahead and try to reserve some cabins now at the James A. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park. Otherwise, embrace the incense.
This year, things got a little interesting. In previous years, all the racers (I use that term lightly. I’m not racing anything but maybe a lizard or two) went around a lake, up Becky’s Bluff and then along the trail ridge for a few miles and then we all came back down to the finish line. Half crazies ran a few miles at the top, Full crazies ran a bunch more miles at the top and claimed they enjoyed it ;-).
BUT, this year, due to F-PAW (Federal Panties in A Wad), we couldn’t run on federal land which included most of the top of the trail ridge. So Becky, in her mad genius skills, decided to try to re-route the whole darn shebang instead of cancelling. That’s how trail runners roll….we get knocked downhill and come up smiling. We also have a polite way of telling people who mess with our trails to kiss it. The new route included 2 loops: Blue and Red. Half crazies ran each loop once. Full Certifiables ran both loops TWICE and that included hauling their cookies up Becky’s Bluff TWICE. Yeah, I’m not one of those. A one-time visit with the Bluff is plenty for me.
So, I ran it. I walked it. I stumbled over the fire break which was described as “gently rolling terrain”. I got out my airplane arms and WHEEEEEEE!!! my way down and then grumbled and whined all the way up. Well, the airplane arms got to be too much of an effort after the first 2 hills of the fire break. Then I just grumbled a lot in both directions. And tripped. And had spastic fits complete with :girl-scream: when a kamikaze bug went in my ear. I bet the guy behind me got a chuckle out of that.
Then I finished the first loop and had to run RIGHT PAST MY CAR to get to loop 2. I could have reached out and touched it. It took a major gut check to keep going for another 6 miles. So, back around the lake. Asking the same question to the nice guy “Are you sure I go up?”. Talking to the same people at the campground “Yes, I’m only on my second loop” and meeting the peanut butter girls at the Marble Mine.
Then…..the Bluff. It’s every bit as bad as I remembered. No….it’s worse. You know that saying “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity”? Yep. It applies here. I imagine it’s like childbirth. If I really remembered how bad it is, I would never volunteer, much less PAY, to do it again.
I finally got to the top and there was Mullet Jesus. When you see him, you know you’re going to make it.
The final 3 miles were a cake walk. I was just so glad to get down off that bluff.
And now, the picture version: (captions on TOP) Remember, trail races are a completely different species than road races. If you want that uptight “oh NO! my tech shorty shorts and body hair are going to create too much wind resistance and slow me down by .000000000000002 seconds!!!” then look elsewhere. Most of us just want to NOT DIE and it will be a good day. However, there ARE some rules to the trail race.
Everyone milling around, sharing stories, asking questions. Never let on how 1)scared 2)excited 3)confused or 4)clueless you are. Pretend you know everything and everything is awesome. Laugh a lot. No matter what.
A tree. In order to fit in with the trail runners, you must do some stretching using a tree. I don’t know why this is a rule, it just is. Extra points for a groin stretch.
Becky is a table girl. Right now, she’s telling us to use proper protocol for blowing snot rockets.
“Um…since we had to re-route everything, the half may not be EXACTLY right..and neither is the full. Just know that they are somewhere between 13 and 27 miles.”
Going down the path to the first lake and and Damn Dam.
Some new asphalt route. A rest before the technical stuff. But trail runners must NEVER admit that we like asphalt/rest/park benches/non-trail stuff.
Now for the trail again. Dirt. Rocks. Bugs. Stone. Real legit stuff.
We interrupt this report for the cute monkey appearance. Don’t spank it here.
Here come the hills. The camera doesn’t capture the steepness. My butt, however, captured plenty with each step up.
This is a trail race porta-potty. I know the road runners are used to nice plastic deals with a hole, scented stuff, and toilet paper. These do not have holes, the only scent is armpit and poo, and grab some leaves for your business.
Just kidding. Don’t grab leaves. Poison whatever is probably all around that thing.
More hills. This is where I wondered why I’m doing this. And the only answer I had was “because I don’t know how to get to my car”.
Marble Mine and around that corner, the Peanut Butter girls. They know how I like my pb&J. Of course I felt 200% better and kicked myself for NOT doing the Full. (That feeling lasted about as long as a good long burp and then there was a hill)
Oh fun! Let’s try downhill. Now I know why I didn’t do the Full.
The fun never stops.
Becky’s Bluff. This crap hurts, especially after 9 miles of “fun”. Ignore the sweat smudges on the camera.
I could kick myself for not getting the last few tenths of the bluff. I was literally stair stepping from tree to tree to keep from rolling backwards. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go back next year to get those.
Reaching the top. If you see Jesus in a Mullet, you know you’re not dead…and you get to keep living in the nightmare of the last 3 miles.
The top of the ridge. That’s Alabama in the distance.
The last time around the lake.
The little bridge. Then I ran on a little bit of asphalt and across the long bridge to the finish. Not my fastest, but not my slowest. Right in the middle.
The long bridge.
And that’s it. A real gut-buster. I think I saw someone’s large intestine on the last mile of trail. I imagine a few of us are hobbling around a little today, but if we are real trail runners, we consider it a badge of honor. If we don’t hurt the next day, we didn’t play hard enough.