The Boy and I signed up on Friday for Sunday's PCTR Sequoia 20K trail race. I know that's cutting it close, but I wasn't sure I should do a race since my right heel has been bothering me and I was pretty sure these would be the perfect trails to REALLY aggravate it.
But on Friday afternoon when I asked The Boy if he was interested in a "scenic" (code word for "difficult and treacherous") 20K and he agreed, I had to sign us up. I've done races on these trails twice already this year, here and here. I love these trails for their challenge and beauty. But after today, I could swear someone has added some bonus hills that weren't there before.
I knew the day was going to be a bit abnormal when the vehicle we parked behind turned out to have these two in it - Nimsaj and Latsyrc (not their real names). They also did the 20K race.
And there is Nerak (not her real name either), alertly listening to the pre-race instructions that mostly consisted of "follow the pink ribbons, don't pet the snakes, and don't eat the yellow snow." (The RD did ask if anyone couldn't tell the difference between pink and orange ribbons. As it turns out, there is a good chance that The Boy can't - he's pretty color blind. "I'll be right behind you" he told me. HA! I lost sight of him in the first mile and never saw him again. Once a race starts, he's off like a shot!)
Mud! There were a surprising number of muddy spots, most easy to avoid (if your brain is wired that way, which I suspect very few trail runners are - I saw a LOT of foot prints in the mud, right next to mine).
This was my first race with this new rugged camera that I'm hoping will have a longer life than the other cameras I've carried with me on these races. Unfortunately, I need to learn how to use it, and am really aggravated this picture came out so bad. Last May, Weird Haired Mom had seen this dog leading the pony through the meadow at the start line. And then, here they are, on the same trail that we were running on! So cool - how many people can say they've shared a trail with a dog and his pet pony?
The first aid station. This was about 3 miles into the race, and the next aid station (which is actually a return to this one) won't be for a bit over seven hill- and occasionally sun-infested miles. The RD in his pre-race talk stressed to make sure you filled up your water bottles here. I filled mine to the brim and thought about carrying some extra water in my cupped hands - I'm a tiny bit paranoid about running out of fluids.
A sun-infested stretch of trail. Not as flat as it looks (seriously - you were almost always going up a hill or down a hill).
I made it back to the aid station (adorably named "Moon Gate"), and now have a bit over two miles to go to the finish line. My heel was screaming at this point (wow am I glad I didn't sign up for a longer race), my legs were shot, but other than that I was feeling good.
And then the Cinderella Trail, designed by her ugly step-sisters no doubt, reared its ugly head. This is a bit of downhill trail that has bits that are so treacherous even that dog and his pet pony would never tread on them.
I keep trying to get a picture that does justice to this bit of trail, but they never do. Falling here would not end well.
And then, just like that, there is the finish line. Since I was the last of the group to finish, I got a nice cheer as I approached the finish line (although I'm not so sure "What took you so long?" is the most encouraging cheer I've ever gotten).
Nimsaj and Latsyrc trying hard to convince the RD that it wasn't a huge mistake to let me do the race.
Ahhhh - after-race chili! This stuff tastes great at the end of a cold winter race, and surprisingly, still tastes good at the end of a warm summer race.
After a bit of a wait, the 20K results were updated and The Boy ended up getting second place in his age group, missing first place by a tiny bit over a minute! He did amazing, and finished 15 minutes ahead of me.
These trails are a blast and the weather was fine (although I'm sure it got a bit hot by the time some of the 50K people were heading to the finish line).
That's it - move along...
PS: You can see more pictures here.