Feb 9 2008 Psycho Wyco "Run Toto Run" 20 mile Trail Run Kansas City, KS
I started running in September with the goal of running a marathon in the spring with my Dad. I had planned on picking a road marathon with lots of cheering crowds and bands.. lots of chaos & commotion to keep me going through 26.2 miles. Well I had forgotten the lure of the trails... Dad is an ultra runner and growing up, family vacations always revolved around trail races, I never really ran but growing up in Colorado the trails are like part of the backyard so they feel like home. When I started running I made the mistake of telling a guy I knew, "Bad Ben" that I had decided to run a marathon... well Ben just happens to be an ultra runner, race director and all around fanatical nerd about trails & running.. so much so that he started a club called "the Trail Nerds". So Ben starts harrasing me about doing a group trail run with the Nerds.. he starts bribing me by bringing me t-shirts & hats with the Trail Nerds logo on them.. check out my website, he says, it has lots of maps for local trails. That was the beginning of the end... really, I wasn't supposed to fall in love with running and most assuredly I was not supposed to get an ultra bug... I just thought it would be fun to do an event with Dad and that would be the end.. HA!
Almost 6 months to the day I atarted running I found myself lining up on a brisk Feburary morning in Wyandotte County Lake Park about to embark on a 20 mile trail race. Up to this point the longest I had run was 13.1 miles, I wasn't sure if I was ready for the full 20, but what the heck, it's just supposed to be a training run! Dad had come down from Colorado Springs along with a friend of his who was running the 50k portion, Dad was going to run the 20M with me (there was a 50k, 20m, 10M and a 5K going on at the same time). I had slept pretty poorly the night before, I just could not get my brain to shut down and relax, way too many nerves. Bad Ben gave us some quick instructions before starting the race... simple things like "follow the signs" "if the sign says "wrong way" you're going the wrong way" "have fun" and "it's going to be muddy" and then he said GO! Just like that we were off and moving.
Now this course is notorious for being difficult, in fact the tagline for the race is.. "it's Kansas, how hard could it be?" I had run the course before... kinda... I had gotten lost all 3 times I had run it.. but at least I had gotten lost at different points so I knew what the whole course looked like just not all together. We had had a good snow on Tuesday, but then things warmed up and by the end of the week a lot of the snow had melted, the high was supposed to be about 45 degrees and we had been warned that it was going to be sloppy, but I had no idea just HOW muddy it would get!
We started off in a big clump, through a field, over a bridge, through another field next to the lake and up a short paved section where we turned left onto the bridle trail. The 50k, 20m and 10m were running at the same time, so there was about 250 of us starting together, the pace was slow at first and there was a few bottlenecks until we got onto the bridle trail. I was trying to start out at the back, but kinda got caught up in the middle and started running a bit quick, but thankfully Dad yelled at me right away to slow the heck down. The first couple miles were a lot of fun, the trails were soft but not really bad yet, and there was a lot of friendly chit chatting going on. I was feeling really good, which made me REALLY happy since I had had some bad runs leading up to the race. I found my easy rhythm early on and just settled into steady slow running, & walking the steep hills. I dropped Dad after about 2 miles, he had had the flu a few weeks back and was still recovering. The course is a 10.35 mile loop so you get to know the hills well.. did I mention it's a very hilly course? According to my Garmin 43% was uphill, 35.8% was downhill and only 21.2% was flat. The first lap felt great.. I ran comfortable, talked a bit to people around me and enjoyed the scenery. I kept reminding myself to drink water since I know I'm bad about that.. and at about 5 miles I had a few dates. I have found that dates are the best source of quick sugar for me, since I am a strict raw vegan, all the normal running aids like gus, and gels and Gatorade are not things I can eat, so finding something easy and naturally sugary was a bit of a test. Next time though I will de-pit the dates before the race, I almost broke a tooth on a pit at one point.
My husband was waiting for me at about mile 8, at a large well-stocked aid station, but I was feeling so good I didn't stop, just yelled at Erik to have a bannana waiting for me at the start/finish area at the start of the second lap. The last 2.5 miles from that aid station have some pretty mean hills and it was starting to get pretty muddy by this point. As I was nearing the start/finish area there was a girl just in front of me and she kept looking over her shoulder and running faster..my competitive urges started to kick in but then I realized she was doing the 10m, and there was no need for me to try and catch her. I made it into the start/finish area at 2:15 which totally boggled my mind, based on my training runs out there I was figuring on at least 2:30! I knew that really, my race was starting now.. 10 miles was easy & known territory.. now it was going to get hard. I ate a quick banana while Erik took my number off my vest and repinned it on my long sleeve tech shirt.. I almost ditched my gloves but kept them at the last minute and I was so glad I did! I collected a quick kiss from Erik and I was off. As I ran off across the field, there was a few guys that had just finished the 10M standing around, and I heard one of the guys say.. "hey she's still running" and another one said "dude.. she's running the 50!" and they went Woah and stood there watching me run by.. I snickered to myself and figured there was no way I was going to correct them!
By this time the course had cleared out a lot, and I felt free to roam all over the trail since the mud was in full force now.. I started out trying to run around the mud bogs and tippy toe through the water crossings but after about 2 miles of that I figured screw it.. it's only going to get worse and just started running right through the middle of the mud bogs. On the wider bridle trail sections this worked fine but once I got to the "Triangle" section which is narrow single track with lots of ups and downs it became just a slip fest, I was glad I had my skiing and hockey skills to fall back on. I had to stop and tie my shoelaces a lot tighter quite a few times to keep the mud from stealing my shoes. From about mile 12 to 14 I was starting to hurt pretty bad.. the mud was taking a toll and I was pretty much running by myself, but I just kept slogging on and walking the hills. I started drinking alot more water and at mile 15 I finished off my dates...and POW instant energy rush! Suddenly I started feeling much better..looked at my Garmin, saw I only had 5 miles left and decided I wanted to finish in under 5 hours so I kicked it into gear a bit. Well that lasted about .5 miles until the mud took over, it was totally frustrating to want to run, but not be able to because it was so slippery, I was sliding and falling everywhere.. but at the same time I was having so much fun! I liked the course the 1st lap, but I really LOVED the course the 2nd lap, I was hooting and hollering as I leaped over logs and laughing as I careened madly downhill on a sea of mud in an area called "Fester's Wander". Fester's Wander is switchbacky singletrack section created by the Race Director's dog Fester. Damn that dog! My hips were starting to ache and one of my shoulders was killing me but I just kept slogging ahead in mud up to my knees. I had left any semblence of running "form" somewhere on the 1st lap and now I was just propelling my body forward willy nilly. As I came into the aid station with 2.5 miles to go, I grabbed a couple of orange halves and kept going (God bless all those aid station volunteers, what a bunch of fabulous people!). At this point the mantra in my head was "under 5 hours.. under 5 hours" and "dry, warm socks and shoes.. dry warm socks and shoes"
The last 2.5 miles feel like a heck of a lot longer.. due to a couple nasty hills.. whom I named the bitches.... and I talked to them... oh yes... "alright Bitch number 1, your ass is mine" "I don't care how much you make me slip and slide Bitch number 2, I WILL BEAT YOU!" And what I said to Bitch number 3 is probably not fit for print... but I made it over all 3.. they bowed to my will, I might have even pounded my chest and let out a bellow after the third one! (OK, maybe I was getting a bit loopy by that point.) As I made the left turn into the section that leads to the start finish, what do I see in front of me but the backside of a girl... my lip goes up in a snarl and my competitive juices start flowing, and I start kicking... and as I get to the start/finish area with her in my sights.. she cuts off to the right to do another lap... DOH! But hey! There's the finish line and the clock says 4:56:05! SWEET! YES! under 5 hours!! and 3rd place female to boot!
I really can't say enough good things about the race..RD Ben is great and all the volunteers were so nice and helpful..and the course really is fun.. hard, but fun.
So now I'm totally hooked and can't wait for the Free State Trail marathon in April, and I'm thinking the summer version of this race might be the perfect place for my first ultra... after all how hot could it be in July In Kansas???