Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free State Trail Marathon~ Post-Race Thoughts!

Today Marathon Highlights….

I took 2nd place for women today at the Free State Trail Marathon. Oh and I learned what it felt like to be a mud monster-- ending the race covered from head to toe in thick clay mud, including my eye lashes and up my nose. Also… I learned what a marathon course would look like if the 7th circle of hell held a marathon. I would assume most people’s hell would have a marathon, but incidentally I’m fairly certain my heaven would have one too and THIS would definitely not be my heavenly marathon course!!

(Pic Right: My New Hat!)

Pre-Race Fun Times
Ok let’s back track to 07:00 this morning. The marathon start/finish was a breeze to find, with signs starting at the high way and bringing you through the campground. I got there an hour before my race and watched the ultra marathoners (40M and 100K) take off. I noticed at this point-- a Marathon Puppy!!! I have an extreme love for puppies and often ask them if they want to go home with me. This usually leads to their parents slowly walking away from me, dragging their dogs they believe will be kidnapped by the crazy dog lady. Well a marathon running puppy? How could I resist??? I rolled around with it for a while and of course asked if she wanted to run AND go home with me!!! At this point, her dad decided it was time to go to the car. Sigh--- anyways, this marathon is pro-dog and even gives the pups a bib and results!
And we’re off…
Ben and Sophia (race directors) said a few words and then we were off. The first 3+ miles is a loop through weeds and a wide trail-- mostly flat, so a good way to warm up. Even though I said I wasn’t going to run hard, I found myself behind the fastest men and well in front of all women. Uh ohm

7th Circle of Hell
And then we were in hell. The course quickly turned into a single-treck trail from Hades! It started with a mud pit ~ every half mile. And not just any mud pit-- deep dark clay mud with no footing and slippery rocks hidden under the mud. Then the mud pits increased in size and duration until we got closer to a lake-- at which point (~mile 14) it was ENTIRELY a mud pit mixed with long stretches of slippery rock on the edge of ~an 8 ft drop. At which point I had to yell (Is this even SAFE??).

Trail Shoes? Pshhh I’d rather destroy my Nike Frees
Ok if I were smart I would have purchased a pair of trail shoes, or at least a pair of shoes with a little more grip than the extremely flat Nike Free’s! However, the mud was sooo deep and sooo slippery it really wouldn’t have mattered TOO much-- well enough for 1 woman to overtake me while I was gripping onto trees and swinging from branch to branch in order to stay vertical. Unfortunately I was never able to make up the distance after the mud pit (mostly) finished -- you know, around mile 23! I would lose my shoes several times in the mud … so many times, in fact, I had to throw my socks away mid-race because they were beyond ruined by being directly stepped into the mud with.

I was so unbelievable annoyed at the trail and myself. I had fallen into the mud, tripped on rocks, broken a few toe nails trying to grip with my toes and lost my shoes/socks in the mud and I just wanted to get the race over. That’s when an obviously experienced trail runner (I say this because she HAD trail shoes on and was very good at darting back and forth over rocks and mud) came up on me and passed me. Fortunately this was around mile 22/23 when the mud was starting to thin out, we started our long treck up hill and the footing was much better. I caught her and took off fast! I was so angry I decided I wasn’t giving up my position no matter what. This helped to catch about 5-8 more MEN! Woohoo--- girl power!

The Finish!
Before I knew it I was at the final aid station. Ps. If you want well-stocked aid stations go to trail marathons-- especially trail marathons that have ultras running at the same time. I’ve never seen so many candy cookie, gu, soda, etc options in any race! Anyways, a the last aid station one of the volunteers told me I only had 3 to go (garmin said 6, but it had gotten covered in mud several times and was being an overall nuisance trying to find satalite and detect my location while running on switch-back trails). This was VERY good news. Most of the last 3 was hard dirt/mud with very few mud pits.

(Pic Right: My winnings-- Mizuno Gear!)

I finished in 2nd and the race directors were SO nice-- they both came up and congratulated me and gave me presents!!!! (The one thing I like as much as puppies-- are presents!!) Ben gave me a running hat with “Kansas City Trail Nerds” on it. Sophia (a Mizuno Rep) gave me a pink Mizuno bag and water canteen. Oh I also got my finisher medal… and a few scrapes to remember the occasion. Shoot and my scars from the last trail marathon were JUST going away.

I also had a chance to chat with another woman who I had seen on the course. She was running the marathon and had to drop out. L She said that she was surprised I was able to go so fast on the wet muddy trail with the kind of shoes I had on…. Yeah, me too! The woman in 3rd came up and told me it was fun chasing me! Very nice runners and organizers all together.

The End & Marathon Ignorance
I was able to wash up in a HOT shower at a camp site near the start finish and literally scrape the mud that seemed to be embedded in my skin. I was also able to wash my (once white) sneakers as they were now caked black with mud and I need them for tomorrows marathon!

(Pic Right: My oh-so-lovely legs post-trail race)

On the way to the airport I stopped to get gas and food. A cop, eying my medal, asked what I won. This is when I REALLY like placing in a marathon, because it’s so hard to explain to somebody that you get the medals “just” for finishing. So when I actually place, it’s so much easier to say “2nd at a marathon”-- not mentioning that the finisher medal has nothing to do with my place. When I mentioned running a guy who obviously thought he was hilarious said “WHY?” chuckling to himself. I said I do them a lot. Then he yelled out “You run marathons and you eat hot dogs and donuts???” To which I promptly turned around and replied “yeah well I burn the calories so I can eat whatever I want” -- obviously implying that he needed to run a few miles before eating those hostess snacks in his hands. HA! That’s show him!

Drove to the airport and found lots of fun “Dorothy” and “Wizard of Oz” stuff… though I would share. Enjoy.


  1. 2nd place, in the mud, wearing Nike Frees? That's incredible! With all of the rain here lately, I can only imagine the mud pit that the trails would have been. I can't imagine running them in anything other than trail shoes. As for "the nerds," one of my favourite things about them is their dog-friendliness. One of my dogs raced with me back in February in one of their races.

    Good luck in OKC today.

  2. Hi Steph,

    I'm an avid reader of your blog. I've never commented before, I had to let you know that you were my inspiration this weekend.

    I flew to Nashville to complete the marathon, which was being held on Saturday. Due to the threat of severe weather, the marathon course closed early. If you couldn't finish in 4:30, you were diverted off the course. I know that the timeline would have been fine for you, for me, who is a back of the pack runner, it was going to be a problem.

    I was able to get in about 15 miles on the course,when I included the rain drenched walk to the hotel, about 17 miles in total.

    I returned to my room, preparing to spend the afternoon watching mindless sitcoms. Then I remembered that you were doing double marathons this weekend.

    Before I could talk myself out of it, I went down to the hotel gym and got on the treadmill. I completed 10 miles, which ensured that I did the marathon distance.

    Thanks for your inspiring blog. I loook forward to reading more of your marathon adventures, hopefully there will be no more involving mud up your nose.

    Good luck in OKC.

  3. that's pretty hard core. congrats on a great race. onward to the next one.

  4. Way to go, girl! 2nd place!!!! Nice! That sounds like one dirty race. Your poor shoes! (and feet)

  5. That does sound like hell! Seriously mud up your nose?!?
    Congrats on your 2nd! WOW!

  6. The masochistic side of me LOVES this - congratulations on a well deserved medal!

  7. Nice Report! We're glad you liked our muddy little race.

    Happy trails,
    Ben (& Sophia)

  8. Hi, lovely description better than I would have managed. I did the same double (much more slowly!), but also drove instead of flying from one marathon to the other. You chose the wiser method, by far.

  9. I'm pretty sure you came flying past me near the end!

  10. Wow, awesome blog and incredible quest! I ran with you for the first 6-7 miles or so on Saturday, and my wife was the "experienced trail runner" who passed you and whom you passed back at the end there, so we both got to run with you a bit on Saturday! She was delighted that you mentioned her in your blog.

    Anyway I'm quite impressed with your 50 states quest, my wife and I are at 11 states and counting now, but progressing at a much slower rate! We'll be following along as you finish up, and we might run Boston in 2011 so maybe we'll see you there or down the road sometime!

    Happy trails and good luck, Slush and Les