Psycho-Wyco was my first trail and ultra-distance race of 2015. I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding my performance. Mostly, I was looking to enjoy myself, and I prayed for warmer temperatures and no ice. I ran solid mileage in January, but only one 20 miler, which I did on snow covered trails at my local park. I had been doing regular workouts with weights along with my running, but my nutrition the last couple weeks leading to race day had suffered. I had no idea how the day would play out.
Kansas City is about a 7 hour drive from where I live. I worked a few hours on Friday morning, and then we hit the road about noon. I had packed a small cooler with some snacks, but nothing substantial. It wasn’t quite dinner time when we cruised through Des Moines, Iowa, and we weren’t really hungry anyway. It was still another couple hours to Kansas City. I had hoped that we’d find something decent along the way. As the sun went down and we started to get hungry, the towns got farther apart, and the food options got slimmer. I had been doing all the driving and I was ready for a break, I found an exit that looked promising… The signage at the exit pointed to a gas station, and a couple restaurants 2 miles off the interstate. So we headed in that direction, the signs were somewhat misleading… There was a Pizza Hut, a local pizza place & the smallest Hy-Vee grocery store I’ve ever seen. We opted to check out the grocery store. We left with wraps, deli turkey, and some baby carrots. This would have to do. Matt took over driving, and I started putting our “dinner” together. We made it into Kansas City about 9pm. We were staying with some of Matt’s family, and we were welcomed into their home with hugs and the smell of something wonderful in the oven.
We spent some time getting settled in and catching up and found that the wonderful smell from the oven was coming from stuffed jalapeños baking. So at nearly 10pm on the night before my race I enjoyed stuffed jalapenos and a slice of chocolate cake. Maybe not ideal, but certainly delicious! I hoped those jalapeños wouldn’t come back to haunt me! It was nearly 11:30 before we hit the sack. Morning would come early.
Morning did come early, but there always seems to be enough pre-race adrenaline to offset the lack of sleep. Matt and I had our breakfast and headed off to the race.
I mingled with a few friends from Minnesota before the start, and it wasn’t long before we were off.
I found myself in a pack of runners early on, but it only took a mile or so before everyone started to get spread out. After about 5 miles, I found myself running completely alone. The course is a 3-loop course of just over 10 miles. The first half is easier than the back half in my mind. On the first loop the trail was frozen, but there was no snow, and it was really uneven. You had to be extra careful to watch your footing because there were so many frozen foot prints, and rolling an ankle became a very real hazard. Add to that lots of leaves and rocks on the trail, and it made for some tricky places. But this is why I love trail running. You just have to take what the trail gives you. I found the most runnable sections were those areas on long up hills. Now most ultra runners hike or walk the hills, I do too, on most days. But because some of the areas that I’d have normally run, I needed to walk so I didn’t roll an ankle, I found that even if it was a hill and the footing was good, I ran it.
|Hiking up Dam Hill, this was a significant climb to an aid station. Photo curtesy Matt Leis|
I finished the first loop in just over 2 hours, and I was pleased with that. After a quick stop at the aid station, I started the second loop. This was a whole new game. The sun and earlier runners (there are 3 races, 10 mile, 20 mile & 50k on the same loop) had warmed up the trail, so now it was a mucky, slippery mess… The places that were frozen before were like grease. So now I walked some of these same areas so I didn’t end up on my butt! Even on some of the hills that I had ran in the first loop, I was back to walking because it was so slippery. I was starting to get frustrated, and my hips were starting to hurt from all the uneven terrain.
|The hills were starting to get to me on the second loop, but I just kept smiling! Photo curtesy Matt Leis|
Every mile I watched my pace drop. I didn't let it bother me, and just enjoyed the day for what it was. I was running dirt trails, my body basically felt good, the sun was out, my wonderful hubby was out on the course taking pictures, life couldn’t be better! I just kept reminding myself of all those blessings when I was slipping and sliding around. Soon enough, lap 2 was done, and I was starting the third loop.
|On the bridge to start the final loop. Photo curtesy Matt Leis|
There is something about the third loop that makes it special. First of all, the trail had dried up a ton in the 2 plus hours I’d been making my way around it. There was a little greasy mud in the first couple of miles, but then it was really nice. I found myself running more, and running more of the hills. Secondly, it’s the last loop. You know you don’t have to climb those hills again; you won’t pass through that aid station again. You’re like a horse headed for the barn. Or at least I was. I felt great. With the better trail conditions, I could run, and running felt awesome.
I ran it in as hard as I could. I felt good. I could hear the finish line before I saw it, and the music was pumping. Finishing a race, whether it’s your first or your 100th is something special. That feeling never gets old. I even did a little dance at the finish line. Trail running is so much fun!! Being in nature, pushing yourself, and the thrill of a race simply makes me smile; I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
|Finish line!! Photo curtesy Mile 90 Photography|
I am so blessed to be able to do what I love. To have been able to take a short get away, enjoy a weekend with family, and run trails in the sunshine is a recipe for happiness. I hope that you can find something that you enjoy, that makes you smile, and enjoy it as much as possible.
|Finish line dance :) Photo curtesy Mile 90 Photography|