I went into this race thinking this would be a great marker of my training. Last year PL was the peak of my training, I had run all late winter/early spring getting ready for this race. This year, it is the start of my VT100 training. I wasn't sure where I would stand, would I be the same as last year? Slower because it was my peak race last year? Faster than last year with all the miles I have put in? I have been doing xfit all winter and really think that is making me stronger, especially for this hilly race!
As we start the race, it goes up about 4,000 feet in the first 10 miles. That's almost a vertical mile up! I definitely felt it too. My quads/hammys felt great but my calves were burning! It is a slow go in the beginning. Once we hit the rolling hills on the grassy trails it felt like pure heaven to me. This is why I run...
Constant rolling hills...
Everything was finally turning green!
Stream crossing was a bit high!
I decided to just run at a comfortable pace, but yet always pushing forward, if I was going uphill- it was fast walking, if it was downhill- quick running. My legs felt great throughout the race. I kept seeing places where last year I really struggled through and thinking that I felt so much better this year. This was a good sign!
And then I passed one of the last aid stations- at mi 26 (?), there was a sign that caught my attention "It's all downhill from here... Just Kidding!!" And it was so true, it was ALL UPHILL for the next 3ish miles. I really physically and mentally struggled this section last year. I went into it thinking to not go too quickly in the beginning but always keep moving. And that's exactly what I did. I was by myself in this section, and I'm almost happy about that, it was a great place to dig deep and push myself- which I knew I needed to practice for VT100. Thomas keeps telling me that I need more mental practice and this was it! I also heard that the act of physically smiling will put you in a better mood. So I tried that as well- when I was feeling down and tired, I smiled and it made me realize why I was out here- because I love trails and love running, and the feeling at the end would make all the struggle totally worth it.
Finally I came around the corner and was on top! I made it! And with a smile on my face! I figured out I was well on pace to beat last years time, so now it was just a race to the finish line. The last 4 miles is practically all downhill- my favorite, so I pushed it as hard as possible and ran into the finish line a happy woman! I finished 23 minutes faster than last year, so whatever I have been doing is working somehow!