The Iron Mountain 30 Miler was my birthday present to myself. What better way to celebrate my 31st birthday on September 3rd than a 30 Miler on September 1?
Warning?? You expect me to read warnings?? Maybe now I will…
Pre-Race was pretty normal, I ate __4__ the night before along with my pre-race __5__. Luckily the grocery store in the boonies had a decent selection.
In the morning I ran into another racer in the lobby making waffles for breakfast. For some reason Waffles in a hotel lobby will always remind me of ShaunP and WilliamofNC. Probably because they ate about __6__ waffles the morning after Asheville.
Stole this from the 50 Mile winner’s report because I’m in this one (can you find me?)
Typical for a trail race, the feeling around the start was __7__. The RD shouted directions, and we were off.
Same caption as above…I’m easier to find in this one.
The first 5 miles were along the VA Creeper Trail. It was flat /gradual uphill and pretty awesome, but I felt like I was running way too fast for an Ultra, so I reeled in the pace. Man, did that backfire later!
The climb to the ridge def slowed me down! It was __8__, but these trails were normal trails with dirt and roots and swtichbacks. Getting to the spine of the mountain range, I settled into a groove with another girl and guy. The girl was running the 16 miler and the guy was doing the 30. We __9__ a lot about __10__ and quickly became BFF.
You’d be BFF after climbing this beast too…the hills at the top were worse than the big guy!
After talking a bit more, the guy and I realized we were the two maniacs at the race, and he quickly started trying to convince me to do a 50k in TN the next day with him. Yes, Maniacs are __11__.
I was still feelin good at the mile 9 aid station, which was the girl’s Turn Around. Maniac Man I continued on to a way more __12__ section of trail. It’s funny when you see course descriptions from people who live in the mountains and win trail races…I never knew what they mean by “runnable” and “not runnable” now I do. Runnable means you can suck it up and run if you want to. Not runnable means you will die if you try!
The trail had tons of __13__ __14__. Solid footing was nonexistent on the decents, which made the downhills way slower than the ups. I fell a few times attempting to get to the mile 16 Aid Station, getting some nice trail __15__ and twisting my ankle more than once. I also ran out of fluids pretty early on…since it took me and Maniac Man way longer to cover 7 miles. It might as well have been ___16__ miles. It was rough – almost everyone coming back from the turn around was bleeding.
You know your ankle is mad at you when it turns into a cankle.
At some point close to the turn around, Erhead and I passed each other… but we were both concentrating so hard on not dying, no Loop greetings were exchanged. ManiacMan and I made it to the turn around just as two other people were leaving. We were pretty sure we were dead last… but at least the race was over half over.
Here comes the __17__ part.
The unknown (to us) cutoff for the turn around was 4 hours, with a (known to us) 10 hour course limit. We made it there in 4:18. So even though we were last, even though the cut off was so they could move the station down the road for the 50 milers and they hadnt moved it yet, even though it seemed like most of the 30 milers had also missed the cut off, the volunteer told us we getting pulled.
The option was to give up our bibs and continue back unsupported….or get a ride back. I asked Maniac Man to continue with me. He said he was done. I was torn, I really wanted to continue…but the 50 milers weren’t coming back that way, there were no more 30 milers, and without a bib, no one would be looking for me if I died. I __18__ the Maniac to come…I almost offered to do the 50k the next day if he said yes, but I was too scared he’d say yes.
So, we quit. After helping the volunteers move the aid station, we got a ride back to the mile 9/22 aid station, where we’d have to wait on another ride to the satrt. Since I cheated and got a ride, 30 milers were coming through the station. I decided it was safe enough to do the final 8 miles alone. I tried to shame the Maniac one more time, but he wouldnt come….so I went off alone. (I looked him up on the Maniacs site later…Dude did Comrades this year…and wasn’t willing to continue with me???)
The first 4 miles were __19__ and I got a little cocky because I wasnt paying close enough attention and took the nastiest fall of the race. Not trail rash this time, instead I had skinned my __20__ and ___21__ was __22__ out of it. It’s a good thing __23__ aren’t lured by blood like sharks, or I would have been a goner.
Def my worst wound to date.
The last 4 miles of the race were the most ridiculously hard section of trail I’ve ever encountered. I swore course vandals had changed the markers and had us following dried up river beds. In fact, during the stream crossings, you couldnt tell what was trail and what wasn’t. The 50 Mile winner (the one I stole at the top from) passed me in the section, __24__ like a freakin __25__. Man he was fast.
We dropped 1200 ft from Mile 4.5 – 6. On loose rocks. I was terrified*.
Just when I thought I was doomed to die in the woods forever because there was no way I was living through the end, I saw the road. The final mile was on the streets of Damascus. Only when I was out of the woods did I notice it was in the lower 90s with stupid humidity. Only then did I notice my knee was throbbing and swelling. Only then did I notice my ankle didnt like having weight on it. It’s funny how little you take in when every ounce of your concentration is focused on not dying.
Being aware of the heat and my injuries made for a slow, painful walk back to the park. I even stopped the Garmin because I didnt like seeing the turtle pace. I mustered up the cajones to get close to the finish but not so close I was mistaken for a finisher, and winced back to my car. I had planned on running an additional 2.2 to get a marathon in…but called it a day at 24 miles.
Thanks to anyone who played my Mad Lib game. I hope it made this more enjoyable. To say this race kicked my butt is a total understatment. Anyone up for it next year?
*Here’s a video of some mountain bikers riding down that last decent. You cant really see how rocky the second half is…but it kinda gives you an idea of how scary this thing was (begin at 2:24)