Don't prepare to be impressed, people. I have only done 2 trail runs in preparation for my 7th Mountain Mist. Both were the second half of the Mountain Mist course, a distance of about 15 miles each.
The importance of the second half (Why not the first?)
I always smile a little when we decide to do the second half, since five years ago I was eleven weeks pregnant with my daughter and dropped out at the halfway spot on the course. I never saw the second half of the course that year. It's very fitting that I should get to run this second half many times since then! Also in this section is the spot where Rick proposed to me eight years ago (at the top of McKay Hollow). But it's not just for sentimental reasons that I like running the second half. It also makes sense to use my time wisely. I don't get many opportunities to train on the trails, and the second half is MUCH tougher than the first in terms of terrain and climbs. It's better to get more experience on the second half while you feel good, so you will be mentally prepared for the challenge on race day when you are tired when you get to it.
*I was lucky enough to run with some great trail runners on Saturday, December 17--Rick (my husband), Eric C. (Fleet Feet team captain), DeWayne S. (previous MM winner), and James F. (fellow FF team member). Needless to say, I was VERY out of my element with this group of men. Little old me was still recovering from the marathon the weekend before. No one else seemed phased by it at all (Eric had run a 3:10 and was still sailing in front of me the whole time!). We all had a moment where we sat at the crest of Waterline (I would say the steepest climb of the race--you actually climb on all fours up a waterfall). We just all sat down on this log and the steam was rising off of us as we recovered from the climb. It was a pretty neat moment--and one I felt proud of myself for hanging in there long enough to experience! I was complimented by the guys for my footwork on the big sharp rocks that lead up to Waterline and for my speed as we headed into McKay Hollow, though I quickly ran out of steam after that. I told the group that I hadn't been on trails since the cancelled McKay Hollow the year before! I didn't feel too rusty out there, just tired.
It was great having DeWayne along since I felt like I was getting secrets from a pro! He also climbs Waterline on all fours instead of trying to balance on two legs (he calls it "four wheel drive!"). He also commented that the REAL race begins at Mile 18. I plan to take that to heart on race day and to try to pace accordingly. He told us about some really good road racer that just completely dropped out of Mountain Mist because he couldn't (or didn't want to) continue into those last few really tough miles. I loved hanging with those guys that day and learned a lot from them.
I ran with Rick on New Years' Eve morning, again on the second half. He and I talked about how to pace yourself when you don't have a Garmin up there (I will only have my watch, and there aren't mile markers). The obvious answer--and the one I will try--is to use the aid stations (about every 5-6 miles apart) as indicators. I will write down my previous times (probably on my arm) and use that to gauge how I am doing. More about race strategy later.
Unfortunate effects of trail running are LOTS of mud covering your lower half and BLACK TOENAILS. I got a big black toenail from the trail run on New Year's Eve. It hurts much worse than the little toenails when they turn black. On Thursday of last week, I could almost not stand it anymore and was contemplating using a hot needle to pierce the nail to relieve the pressure or having Rick "drill" my nail (manually turn a drill bit into my nail). You know it was bad if I was contemplating those two solutions! Luckily, icing it and a good night of sleep helped me make it through the worst of it. I am on the mend now and will be running in 9 1/2s now, not 9s!
|New big black toenail|
|Some tough miles (Rick's times on the Garmin, but similar to mine). Can you tell where the climbs were?|