I really wanted a more clever title but the name sort of says it all. I'm not entirely sure where to begin, except to say that I finished the race and that's an accomplishment. Yes, it took me longer than I had planned but I learned a lot and just have to keep reminding myself that patience is a virtue and that I just need to keep training and running and trying!
Anyway--here's a brief rundown of the race.
The trail was COVERED in 10-11" of snow. Powdery, beautiful, deep snow. Which made for some amazing scenery and views from the tops of the hills--but boy did it make the actual running part hard.
The volunteers were amazing and supporting and really helped us get through the race. I can't begin to express how much they meant to me as I was out there today. Truly great folks. The aid stations were stocked with great food, aspirin, handwarmers, tissues, every drink imaginable...you name it and they made sure that it was there and available.
The PsychoWyco has been going on for several years now and it consists of a 10 miler, a 20 miler and a 50k. It's done in laps, which means that us on the 10 mile run get to see some of the distance runners as they bound past us. I saw several of those folks today as I slogged my way up the hills and through the snow on my way towards the finish. They were all so supportive! At one point, myself and another guy who was running the 50k were walking up the same hill--I told him he could pass me anytime he wanted and he simply said "hey man, I'm walking up this hill too, so no worries".
It struck me pretty hard in that moment (I was tired and cold and really battling my inner demons at that point)--but it dawned on me that, for those few minutes, there was no real difference between he and I. We were both just runners out doing what we do, in some intense trail conditions, walking up the same hill. And yes he was there to do three laps to my one, and yes he was in better shape and has gobs of experience on me, but for that split second--I could see myself being THAT guy.
Little moments of humility and humanity can really change your perspective on a situation and yourself.
Overall the consensus is that these were some of the gnarliest trail conditions people had seen--to the tune that one of the 50k runners got frostbite on four toes!
As for the trails and the run organization itself--you couldn't ask for a better, more challenging yet fun course I don't think. The folks at TrailNerds put on a great run every event that they do--everything from the awesome tech hoodies,coffee mugs, tasty food and finishers medals that they offer to the course organization, aid stations and overall "event" that they host.
Technically speaking, the hills on this particular trail set are pretty crazy. They are steep, long and aggressive. Personally speaking, I think I would take the snow conditions of today over mud but I have nothing to really compare to so I could be crazy. 0_o
I run in Merrell Pace Gloves and had searched all over the KC Metro area last night for YakTrax for traction assistance...no luck. I got to the race and they were able to screw some parts of my shoes, however. Somewhere around mile 3 I could definitely feel one of them poking through to my foot, but by mile 5 my feet had gone numb and the adrenaline kicked in so I left it there. I figured I'd rather have the traction and deal with the pricking than end up a snowball. It was a good decision, I have a slightly sore pinky toe but the traction was amazing.
Going into the race I had some serious doubts about being able to finish--I have been training and things were going great, until the Psychodelic 5k two weeks ago. I ran that (which was an out-and-back tour of the last three big hills of the PsychoWyco) and I guess I got a little ambitious/hyper on the downhills. I managed to bruise/aggravate something in my right knee and, towards the beginning of the week, thought I really wouldn't be able to run today at all. It was sore, hot to the touch and a little swollen.
I opted to take the two weeks leading up to today off of running and lifting and went for some swims, walks and did a lot of Yoga to keep me moving. When I woke up this morning I felt pretty good but knew that I would have to take it easy on the downhills. (Downhill running technique on this type of terrain is something I want to work on in the coming months for sure!)
I did find the Sports Chiro at the race this morning and asked him about my knee--he put me through a quick round of Active Release Therapy and it seemed to help. I made it through the race and overall, things feel pretty good.
This race taught me a lot about myself and my "race mentality", I think. I should have broken away from the pack earlier than I did instead of holding back and spent less time at the mile 5 aid station. I did waste quite a bit of time at the 8.2 mile aid station but they had a campfire going and the idea of thawing my toes out for just a few minutes trumped my desire to finish sooner so, ya know...small pleasures (c:
I am already looking forward to next year and all of the opportunities between now and then to run more trails, set more goals and learn/hone some techniques and skills.
For now--I am going to crawl into my warm bed and enjoy the fact that I don't have to go to work tomorrow. There may be lots of indulgent Olympics watching and coffee drinking on my couch...I figure I've earned that much just for finishing the thing.
I'm sorry if this race report is a little scattered--I'll try to come back and clean it up when I've had some sleep! (c: