Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Trail Race. 30k Cradle to the Grave. Wow!

So happy to cross this finish line.  Slowest race I've ever run/hiked/walked in my life.  But an incredible experience unlike anything I've ever done!  


A few weeks ago, I decided to do something a little crazy.  Well CRAZY is all relative.  But it felt a little crazy then and it surely feels a little crazy now.  A good crazy.  An exhilarating crazy.  The kind of crazy that makes you feel like you're really LIVING life!  I signed up for my very first trail race. Not just a little one either.  A 30k. The Cradle to the Grave 30k here in North Carolina.  I didn't know anything about the race course.  In fact, I didn't know much about trail racing period.  I've done very little of it in comparison to someone that would call themselves a "trail runner".  After today, I've realized a few things....about trail racing, myself, my day, and about these Appalachian runner mountain folk in Asheville, North Carolina:


  1. Never trust an elevation map unless you really know how to read one.  Understanding the numbers on the side of the chart and not just going by how flat or hilly it looks on the screen is quite important.   Scale means something on those things!  
  2. Never trust these crazy (good crazy) Asheville runners when they talk about things being "fairly flat".  They lie.  Ha!  Or they are so warped from running here for so long that they don't understand what their hills are really like...BRUTAL! They are some tough tough runners! 
  3. If a runner from Asheville tells you that a course "Isn't that bad with elevation", expect VERY HILLY.  If they tell you that a course has "Big Hills", trust them.  Be very afraid.  Run the other way.  
  4. I have a completely new respect and understanding of what it means to be a trail runner.  Wow!  
  5. Going down steep hills with technical trails is an art in itself.  I don't know how these people did it so fast.  I was almost as slow going down the mountain (literally a hike for 2 miles up) as I was going up.  
  6. These trail running women that passed me at the end are amazing!  
  7. Running this trail race is like nothing I've EVER done with running before in my life.  It was EXTREME running and would surely fall in the category of extreme sports in my opinion (but that's coming from someone that isn't into extreme sports AT ALL).  
  8. Running a road marathon and PRing is a completely different kind of racing than it is to run 18 plus miles that involves shin deep mud, knee deep rushing water, fallen trees, roots, rocks, streams, etc. etc.  
  9. I have never been so hungry in my life while in a race.  Towards the end I walked a lot...or hiked.  I was dreaming of a cold beer and a burger.  Anything really.  And then I found a quarter of a peanut butter sandwich in my fuel belt...HOLY MOLY!  I have never been so excited to eat a piece of food in my LIFE!!  Ever. I walked and ate my sandwich and soaked up all that was around me.  
  10. Something so FREEING about not being a slave to the GARMIN and knowing that time is not what this race experience was about.  At All! Time on the Garmin is of NO Concern!  At least it wasn't for me.  There were a few stretches of wider trail where I picked up the pace to a sub 8 mile but most of the race was single track and technical.  No way that I was going to run any decent splits. 
  11. Trail runners at this event know how to celebrate after a race...The first thing I got was a cold beer and then warm BBQ. 
  12. Something about running through rivers, crossing logs, having your feet covered in mud, and running through pouring rain that makes you feel AMAZING and TOUGH!  
  13. I worked muscles today that I'm pretty sure I didn't know I had....or at least I'll be certain of this tomorrow.  
  14. Today was a humbling experience but it was also an experience that has made me feel so STRONG and ALIVE and PROUD of Myself.  I'm so so glad I took this challenge and that I keep taking these opportunities to try new things in life.  They are stretching me in so many new ways.  YES YES YES to LIVING FULLY!  
  15. When I woke up this morning and it was raining so incredibly hard (Um, I'm talking torrential downpour), I almost laughed at the idea of racing a trail race.  But I'm so glad I did it anyway...despite the way less than idea conditions that made this already DIFFICULT course, absolutely CRAZY! There's that good crazy again. 
  16. Thankful for a friend that I met here that has become a fast friend.   She's the kind of person that inspires me to be MORE of MYSELF.  Especially with trying new things with running....like how she sent me up a mountain the other day for my training run.  ha! 
  17. If I do this again, I will bring more fuel and definitely take my water and Nuun again!  I found that my body craved REAL food today and I will for sure pack at least another half peanut butter sandwich...it was a piece of heaven to have on the course today.  
I wish that I could have taken pictures of this course today so I could share what it was like.  Well, not really because that would have taken away from my experience (and my phone would have been ruined from the rain) but it really would have helped in explaining just how intense this was.

Rushing water
Cold Puddles
Thick mud
Pouring rain
Fallen Trees
Steep inclines and declines
Jutting rocks
Root covered ground
Lush Forest
Vibrant Green
Sounds of nature
Logs for bridges
Heavy breathing, slow climb
Digging Deep 
Slow doesn't matter
Soul Alive
New Limits
Many Moments of Solitude
Alone with Thoughts
Conversations with Myself

So happy to have done my first ever trail race!  An Amazing one to have as a first!  And this Brooks Tank is officially my racing tank after wearing it for the past 4 or 5 races.  I LOVE it!  



 She placed second in the 5k!  It was so nice to have her to celebrate and carpool with today.  

My brand new Brooks PureGrits will never be the same again!  :)



I'm not sure when I will do another trail race but I do know that I found something NEW today (within myself and in the experience) that I'm richer for finding.  Truly a LIFE moment that has made an impact.  So glad that I decided to try something I've never done before...it's these things that make life extraordinary.

Amanda 

42 comments:

  1. Awesome. I know exactly how you feel..it's a TOTALLY DIFFERENT sport!

    As you say liberating in some way because of the impossibility of pacing or comparing any course to any other course.

    And the beauty of being outside with nature all around.

    Annnnd so I'm guessing that the itty bitty stream crossings are no longer a problem 8)

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    1. ha ha! I actually thought of you today Paul...when I was knee deep in the water. It made me laugh that I was so scared of that jump. But that's just it...I wasn't scared of the water...just the leap to stay out of the water. It would have been better to go through the water. :)

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  2. This is the kind of race I LOVE. Very cool you got out of your comfort zone. :)

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    1. I can see why Kate! Such a different beast! Love! Not sure I'm going to do a ton of them but I'll probably do another someday. :)

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  3. It definitely sounds like it was a good experience for you and trail running intrigues me. There isn't much for trail running in the middle of Nebraska though. Great job!

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    1. You'll just have to travel to Asheville! :) Thanks Renee.

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  4. Ah....the wonderful world of trail running. I'm so happy to hear your heart singing so loudly - dirt will do that. I love the fact I can put the watch away and not stress about any pace or race strategy; you just go and you enjoy. Thanks for sharing your amazing adventure...you are so incredible.

    Come join me in Leadville now that you're a fan of the trails - I need a pacer! :)

    xo

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    1. Thanks Jill. My husband asked about you when you commented and then he started reading your blog and seeing the races you do. He was like "She's HARD CORE!" :)

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  5. That sounds like so much fun! I am glad they are becoming more popular. I would love to try one someday.

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  6. I can feel the excitement through your post - awesome!!! Wow, you are a brave girl heading into that many miles of obvious hilly terrain. Go you!!

    I did a lot of trails last summer to train for the Stonecat 50 and also loved the different feeling of trails, no real time, and just a different sense of accomplishment.

    Happy recovery!!

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    1. Brave or naive! Ha! Definitely naive. Such a different sense of accomplishment. Thanks Lisa.

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  7. Ha, this reminded me of my first trail race, a 17.5 miler that I completed in 4 hours, ha! I was dreaming of food as well...I had so much fun but had not expected all the climbing. So happy for you that you had a great day. What's up with the pink tape though? Need to send you an email...XO

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    1. It was so slow after climbing the mountain. 3:12 or something. 10ish min average...or around there. My slowest mile was like a 15 minute miles (hiking) and my fastest was an 8:00 or maybe barely under 8. The pink tape is supporting my quad...same injury since before Boston. And interesting gap in there compared to the other quad. weird. Will e-mail.

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  8. I was out there with you. I live here. I run mountains every day, and this race pushed me to my limit. Congratulations and come back soon! What do you do when you fall off a foot bridge (log bridge) @ss first into a creek? You haul yourself out and say, "I can still catch that guy!" (this was me around mile 15)

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    1. Ah, so so cool! How did you do? Feel? sounds like you had a blast despite the footbridge fall. :)

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    2. 2:57

      Kind of limped in the last 3 miles or so after taking my tumble off the log.

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  10. I think I must be missing something not running trails! Congratulations on the race - you look strong and happy. How's the leg?

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    1. Oh, Gracie, it is such a cool thing. I was surely missing out until I tried it. The leg is okay. Not 100%. Thinking of you.

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  11. Awesome! Trail running is so peaceful. I love it.

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  12. Trail running rocks my world, for most of the reasons you just discovered. You feel alive and connected to everything around you. You really learn how to run by perceived effort, not by pace. Every run is an adventure. Runners in general are pretty awesome - trail runners are a bit more low-key, a bit more relaxed, and they DO know how to do a post-race food fest. :) I love a good road race and PR - but nothing makes me feel as laugh-out-loud AWESOME as finishing a tough, muddy, hilly, ridiculous trail run/race...PREFERABLY in the rain! ;-)

    So happy you got to have this experience!!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

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    1. Ah, thanks Holly. Yes yes! I can see why you love it so much...now! I couldn't before. I just was never really that interested but I'm so so glad I tried it out. And what a big deal of a first one. Wow! And yes, the rain kind of added to the experience! no, it definitely did!

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  13. Congrats on finishing your first 30k and first trail race. Great job!

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  14. I didn't realize that you were doing a seriously hard trail for the 30k! This must have been so exciting..And only 1/4 of a PBJ? Girl, you must have been famished!! Did the race have any food or gels along the course? Considering the terrain and the time it must have taken some runners to finish, I would imagine that there had to be a few stations!?

    You are positively beaming in the picture with the tank and race sign-- BIG smiles. It's a different beast, the trail race. I still have yet to run one anywhere besides the Eugene bark path..very jealous :) Thinking about a 50k now??

    Loved the story on FB about the chips.. had to laugh at the thought of you munching them talking to the guy who was selling them. haha. Love you, SO VERY HAPPY to see you smiling BIG today!!

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    1. I didn't realize it would be that hard! ha! I was so so naive Raina. Probably best that I was because otherwise, I'm not so sure I would have signed up. Ha! Waylon kept thinking I was CRAZY!! A bit jealous too since he wanted to be the one trail racing but he wasn't prepared for this distance. Neither was I really. Ha! They did have food and gels. I just didn't use them. I did however, have two gels earlier on but they weren't enough...at the end of was so so so so hungry. I've never been happier to see a sandwich chunk in my LIFE! Oh Raina, you would love it here...the trails! Wow! Such a different experience than I've ever had. Maybe you can come for it next year. And the chips were hilarious. Love you!

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  15. Have followed your blog some for a while - first time commenter.
    Ain't Trail running/races great!?!?! Did my first one two weeks ago also and can totally relate to your post here - like a checklist of most all of the things I was thinking.
    Yet another way to enjoy running!

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    1. Hi Ted. So glad you commented! Oh yes, it is amazing! So glad to have done it. Congrats on your first too. Such a different way to enjoy moving this body of ours!!

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  16. How exciting to run a trail race. I just got my first pair of trail shoes - haven't even tested them out yet. Of course, the downside is that my brand new shoes will look awful after one or two good trail runs.

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  17. I just did a trail run too! Not as epic as yours but they are all so fun! Congrats on an awesome race!!

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  18. You had a great time didn't you? You can read it in every line. I too am in awe of trail runners. I've done a fair few trails in training and I'm always a little wrecked at the end - concentrating on every step and coping with the hills makes for a challenging run.

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  19. That is awesome dude! sounds crazy and fun!!!

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  20. Super congrats!!!!!! Yes, trail running and road running are two very different beast. I did a few in Colorado and LOVED it!!

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  21. Trail running is such a different challenge. While we always want to run within ourselves on the road, I find it easier to really open up on the trail. And I think the unpredictable nature is part of the adventure.

    Keep on growing and pushing!

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  22. Nice, congrats on the race!! I am wondering if you thought the same thing I did after my race, the race was challenging, but reflecting afterwards, it might have been one of the most stress free, low key race I have done, I didnt feel the normal stress that I do on the road races.

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  23. I've never done any true trail running but have really been wanting to! Glad you are acclimating to your new life!

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  24. Just reading this post makes me feel alive! Love it!

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  25. another fantastic result Amanda. Well done you x

    Diane

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  26. I used to run and I've learned a lot of useful information about motivation, training, and nutrition on militarygradenutritionals.com/blog/. There was a number of articles about making recoveries more easy. I followed their tips and it worked! Recommend this resource to all athletes.

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