Saturday, July 19, 2008

Howling at the Moon at the Lunar Trek Run

Late Friday afternoon, Christy "Mountain" Mud Babe and I left Lawrence for the bustling metropolis of Scandia, KS. Located somewhere way too close to the Nebraska border, it's about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Lawrence. The forecast called for overcast skies and heavy rain and since we were heading to do a night race called the Lunar Trek, it was a bit disheartening to think we were not going to be able to howl at the full moon. Luckily about an hour east of Lawrence, the clouds parted to reveal and gorgeous blue sky...we crossed our fingers and hoped it would stay like that. We rolled into town early enough to get a hotel room and try and get a 1/2 hour nap in, the nap didn't work so well and neither did the eating plan. Since the race started at 11 pm, we were totally thrown off and not sure what to eat or when so we ended up nibbling on some strawberries, cherries and bananas.
It was about 8 miles from the hotel to the race start and unfortunately in our haste to get there a cute little raccoon ran right under our wheels. Poor little guy, Christy and I both screamed in unison and then freaked out. Christy asked if we should go back but I figured at the best of times 'coons are cantankerous little creatures and if he was still alive, it would not be the best of times. So we kept going but it put a small damper on the evening.

After making a few loops of the town (don't sneeze) we finally found the high school and parked next to a contingent of Trail Nerds. We checked in, got our numbers and also got a 20 spiel, the race was a fundraiser for the school's cross country team and it was obvious the guy checking us in was used to lecturing high school kids. There was a billion different options you could run: 10K, 10M, 20M, 30M & 40M. I did the 20M and the rest of the Nerd gaggle was spread out from the 20m to 40M. There was a ton of Trail Nerds that came out from KC & beyond, it was a lot of fun to have so many familiar faces in one place. Gary gave us a fabulous rendition of a poem about the moon that he had written... combined with his theatrical telling of it & the setting it made for the perfect start to the race.

At close to 11, we received some last minute directions but I was too busy dicking around, harassing people, and adjusting my headlamp to listen... one of these days my propensity for not listening is going to bite me in the ass. With a Runners ready... GO, we were off, and the Mud Babes howled at the moon as we started moving. The course was all on back dirt farm roads, very wide open and we were able to see for quite a ways. Everyone was assigned a small blinking red light that we had to wear and most of us attached them to the back of our hats or packs so all we could see in front of us was a long line of flashing red lights. There was some hazy clouds in the sky but the full moon was bright enough to come shining through. My headlamp immediately was driving me crazy so I took it off and carried it... I only turned it on maybe a grand total of 10 minutes the whole race anyway. Since the roads were so wide open, the pack got strung out really quickly and we settled into a nice easy pace. For the first couple of miles it was me, Debbie, Gary, Laurie, Nick & Christy running together and then we lost Nick and Christy. Christy is nursing a bad knee and seeing a P.T a couple times a week, trying to avoid having her knee scoped so she really has to watch herself so she dropped back and Nick was doing the 30M and had a very strict timetable in mind, so he also dropped back a bit.

So Debbie, Gary, Laurie and I trotted along together, telling silly stories, singing silly songs and at one point us girls mooned the moon. Then we went through a period of singing Wizard of Oz songs and since there was 4 of us we argued over who was going to be who, I had ponytails so by default I ended up Dorothy. Gary kept running up ahead taking pictures, so I imagine we'll see lots of them on his website along with a fabulous race report. The moon was bright and beautiful and the fireflies were out in force... it was so magical running along a dark road lined with tall trees, and twinkling fireflies darting in and out.
The aid stations were great, everyone put a ton of time into them... the first one we came to had a generator running and we were greeted by a large tent all lit up, a fake lit up palm tree and portable water fountain.. it was amazing! They had the usual assortment of ultra foods and very friendly staffers. The second aid station had a camper set up and red rope lights over a tent with a big campfire and they lined the approach with candles, we were told this was the first time these people had done aid stations and they all did a bang up job. Friendly, helpful and had a good assortment of foods. My only complaint was there was no watermelon..... hello? Had they not heard how much the Mud Babes like watermelon??? We were warned about some mud on the course and we poo-pooed the warning... after all we're mud babes! Well let me say that they have some super tacky mud in Scandia, it was a whole different texture and caused much walking. The mighty Mud Babes were laid low!
When we got to the 10 mile turnaround for us 20 milers, we lost Gary, he was continuing on to 40 miles. Debbie, Laurie and I decided to stick together, and by some miracle we were the first women. Caleb, Shane, Greg & James had already blown past us, running hell bent for leather, so it looked like the Nerds were going to handily tie up the first spots in the 20m. As we were heading back out, we ran into Christy who was renaming herself the Nancy Kerrigan Mud Babe for the evening and thinking of dropping out at the 10 mile point due to extreme knee pain. The second half of the race went by with not as much talking, but still a lot of enjoyment of the surroundings, and still a lot of howling. The darkness totally threw my depth perception off and I swore we went uphill the whole 10 miles out and so we should be going downhill for the last 10 miles.... nope in fact it seemed we had more uphills. Ah well. The 3 of us decided we were going to stick together for the rest of the race, so we walked when someone needed to walk and ran and talked the rest of the time. I started to get pretty tired... 'cuz well, my bedtime is 11:00 usually so about 2 am my body was freaking out.. combined with eating very little the whole day, I was kinda hurting. All 3 of us were having some stomach problems, and some of mine cleared up when I took an S-Cap. DUH! It was a hot evening and I had forgotten that even though the sun wasn't beating down, I was still sweating like a pig. The last couple of miles all I wanted to do was lay down, my eyes were starting to have some troubles focusing too, but thankfully Debbie & Laurie kept me going. As we came around the corner of the school for the finish we linked arms, howled up a storm and crossed together. Whoo-Hoo! We were cheered on by Caleb & Shane & Christy. Christy had made it to mile 15 before pulling the plug, and was cheering everyone on with a big ol' icebag on her knee. I think I heard the guy say 3:45.. but I'll update once the results are posted.
We hung out in the parking lot for awhile, re-hashing the race, decompressing and enjoying a post race bevvie before heading back to the hotel to get some sleep. In all my wisdom I scheduled myself to work at 4 pm on Saturday, so we had to get sleep so we could head back fairly early. It was such a fun time and the Trail Nerds make everything a party... I can't wait to do this race again next year!

Photos shamelessly stolen from Gary Henry & Andy Woolard

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