- 26.2 miles/Marathon
- Trail Race
It was not my intention to run two marathons this year. My plan for turning 40 was to run a marathon, meaning 1 marathon.
I do always try to sign up for the next big race before completing my upcoming big race and I happened to run across the Triple Lakes 40K in Greensboro.
Perfect I thought. That’s less than a marathon so I can do that and how cool to run a 40K for my 40th year!
I immediately signed up.
I quickly thereafter did my best peer pressure work of all time.
I managed to convince my friend Kim, her husband John and my friend Meredith to go along with me on this crazy journey to 40k!!
We developed our training plan and got right to it. Running more trail miles than ever before and getting more vertical gain than ever before!
In the midst of our summer training I was diagnosed with Asthma which is exacerbated by exercise. I am so glad I went to have my breathing situation checked out though! Having my inhaler now makes my run so much better. I no longer feel like I’m sucking air through a flattened straw! I no longer run scared that I will pass out or worse on the trails a million miles from help.
Through the summer training we had some of the hottest most humid days ever! It was tough but we were tougher!
A few days before the 40k the race director announced that the 40k course was going to change. Unfortunately the area had been severely affected by the hurricanes that came through and many of the trails were impassable.
In addition to the 40k the race also had a half marathon and a 40 miler. The race director had to make last-minute changes to the course so that the all the races could still go on. The half marathon course was passable and so they made the decision to have the 40k run the half course twice making it a marathon and to have the 40 miler run the course three times!
Of course this sent us into a silly frenzy. We started bantering back and fourth about how we did not train for 42k but only 40k and what in the world would we do! A 40k is 24.85 miles whereas the marathon is 26.2. That mile and a half roughly was sure to get us lol!! We were kidding of course. I was already pretty mentally prepared for a marathon. Most places I looked listed this race as a marathon while others did say 40k. Either were really fine with me.
I laid out all of my clothes in advance for the race but totally forgot to take a flat runner pic as I usually do!! In hind sight I am not sure if hardcore trail runner girls do this or not so good thing I didn't. Make no mistake I am a hard core trail runner girl now!!
I decided to wear my Skirt Sports Spanky Skirt, a black tank top from WalMart, the Skull and Bones OTC Crazy Compression Socks, of course my Brooks Cascadia shoes, a baseball cap, my Nathan VaporAiress Hydration vest and last minute I picked up some Nike Sleeves at Dicks Sporting Goods.
The sleeves were the best decision ever!!!! I knew I would be cold starting out and I don't love being cold. I love being cool but not cold. If I wore a jacket I would have had to remove my pack to get the jacket off once I warmed up. With the sleeves I could peel them off mid run and they are so thin I could easily stuff them in a pocket of my pack! That's exactly what I did. Within the first three miles these puppies were off and tucked away for the rest of the race!
I had a busy weekend and so there was no good way for me to get to Greensboro the night before the race. I would instead make the two hour drive the morning of the race. Kim and John drove down that morning as well. We all got up at 3:30 am and met up at the interstate at 4:30 am to caravan down together. We had a 2 hour drive ahead of us and we needed to get there about 6:30 for packet pick up.
We stopped just into Greensboro to take a quick potty break and I ran to the convenience store for some last minute fuel. The night before the race I realized my hubby had eaten all of my mini Payday's (trail running fuel of the Gods lol). I had to be in Boone Friday night for a Gala with my youngest daughters sorority and so after she and I went to Walmart to buy another bag of mini Paydays. As I was heading down the mountain after dropping her off she called to tell me she had the Walmart bag with my PAYDAYS!!! So.... I grabbed what they had at the store which was a sword sized Payday that just barely fit into one of my side pockets in my pack lol!!
We got to the race Saturday morning just as packet pick up started. We were able to meet the race director which was a lot of fun. We had been bantering back a fourth a bit on Instagram as we prepped for the race. We then we met up with Meredith and loaded up our packs. We were lucky enough to meet in person Jacky Hunt-Broersma aka ncrunnerjacky who is an ultrarunner also from North Carolina. She has an incredible story of surviving cancer and now running as an amputee through the toughest trails you can fathom. If you don’t follow her you should be, she is incredibly inspirational and her journey is unlike anything that I could ever imagine. Jacky was there for the 40 miler!!
The race started in waves with the first wave being the half marathoners. A bit later the marathoners lined up and the 40 milers would start after us.
The weekend before this race Kim and I ran 13 miles on the Fonta Flora Trails. Kim is a stronger trail runner and much better pacer than me and last weekend I decided to run behind her the entire time. That run was probably the best trail run ever and so I decided I would do the same, run behind her, for as long as I could at this race.
I made her swear she'd not hold back for me and that if I fell behind she would go on. She promised and I promised her that even if by some miracle I felt like a rock star at the end I would not pass her and instead push her to the finish!!! I did not feel like a rock star and instead let her drag me behind her to finish lol!!
We ran the first half of the race almost non stop. We power hiked maybe twice on two steep climbs.
Training for a trail race, especially a trail marathon is a challenge in and of itself. Training for a trail marathon that you have never been able to test out is even more of a challenge.
All I had seen were these two videos of the course.
For a road race a pacing strategy or a run walk strategy is doable. For a trail race with varying terrain not so much.
We ran so strong for the first half and slowed down a bit for the second. We decided we would try to do a 3:1 run/walk for the second half and for the most part stuck to that!
My legs were heavy by the time we began loop two. I had mentally planned to fall behind but decided I would work as hard as I could to keep up with Kim.
The trails were challenging and the terrain was ever changing. The rooty areas very rooty where it felt like we were we were doing some fancy footwork you see in those football player drills. There were areas where it was very packed dirt which was great and there were areas of super slippery mud because of all the rain. The trail had sections where boardwalks had been built in the woods, these areas were low spots that most likely got the wettest. The course also had a few short spurts along the road and dam of the lake.
It rained almost the entire day but that tree cover and canopy kept us from getting soaked. The temperature was perfect, it was nice and cool. It really was the perfect day! We have some great trails in western NC but this trail in Greensboro makes me jealous!
We gained about 1,800 feet of elevation overall which was not too bad.
The aid stations were well stocked and well supported. I did not take a lot of pictures on this route. I normally am the picture taking queen but I was focused on running instead and did not want to slow us down. On the trail I have to focus on maintaining my footing. If I take my eyes off the trail I tend to find myself in a face plant position on the ground lol!
I took in fuel about every 30-45 minutes and sipped on my Nuun Water in between that as needed. I had Gu, Salt Sticks, Peppermint, Gummy Bears and my giant Payday as my fuel sources and alternated between them throughout the race. At the aid stations I grabbed a cold water which was refreshing! This fueling and hydrating strategy worked well for me this race!
A few times during the race Kim was in it to win it and I thought I might die in the process. If there was another runner on the trail we'd suddenly speed up to pass, most of them out for their morning run and not part of the race lol!! Once she did ask a lady behind us her age group, when the reply was 45 buddy we picked up the pace again lol! Turns out she was running the half dang it lol!!
After the race we ran up hill to the finish and we received our race awards from the race director and were directed over to the post race food. They had a fully catered hot meal ready for us at the finish!! They had Beer, BBQ, Rolls, a big salad and so much more!! I grabbed a water, roll and some veggie straws and collapsed. The spread was very impressive but I had Pizza on the brain!
I finished in 6:15 which was way better than I expected! I didn't exactly know what to expect so I had just planned to finish before the eight hour cut off. Kim and I came in fourth and fifth in our age group woot woot!! Next year we are gunning for a place now that we know what to expect!
Oh yeah! We will be back! This race was awesome!! Well organized, well staffed, well supported! Not one single complaint or critique!
We hung out for a little bit after the race took a few more photos and then left to go get some pizza!
This race is hands-down one of my all-time favorite!! I want to do it again and again and again and again! Kim said she felt like she could have gone on to do a third loop! I did not feel that way lol. I however would love to have felt that way and so one day maybe I will give that a try!
As always I did have a good long cleansing cry on the course. I tend to do that. At about mile 21 I was overcome by emotion. I had never gotten farther than 20 miles on the trails before and here I was going farther! I felt so small in this big ole forest yet I felt so alive, my spirit totally revived by the cool crisp fall fresh air, the gentle rain shower washing over me and the beautiful woodsy scents dancing along with me on the course! It was trail magic and God for sure!
I can not recommend this race enough and I sure can not wait to do it again!!