Sunday, May 17, 2009

Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon - 5/16/09

I left my house Saturday morning at 4:00 a.m. to drive for 3 hours to Summerville, GA. This would be my first time running the Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We started in the James H. Floyd State Park, running around the lake and through the campground, before proceeding a mile up the mountain on the Pinhoti Trail (see course map from website above). Three miles into the run and I am trashed, lol.

The forest was beautiful. I know this because I had to stop every few steps on the mountain to catch my breath, and since I was just standing there holding onto a tree, I had time to look around and enjoy the scenery, lol. Once on top of the mountain, we ran a 5-mile out-n-back (10 miles total) section along the ridge on a wide, dirt and gravel road, before we proceeded down another side of the mountain on single track. It felt good to run down the mountain, like I was flying. Seeing the other runners on the return, however, I was already planning my power walk approach to struggle back up the mountain after the turn around point, lol.

I didn't mind climbing up and down the mountain. I felt at peace being in the forest on those beautiful trails. I don't think this race lives up to it's name, however. The trail was very runnable, not as many roots and rocks as I would have expected and no stream crossings. There had been recent rains in the area, and the trail had drained very well, leaving the trail very soft and easy on the joints, with very little mud.

There was a 4 hour cut-off at the 14 mile aid station after the 5-mile out-n-back section. I made it in time to spare, and then it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the rest of the day. The volunteers at the 14 mile point informed me that there was a 4-mile out-n-back section up and down a third side of the mountain, that would bring me back to their aid station, and then the final 4.2 miles down the mountain to the finish line. Sounds easy enough, right?

For some reason, this 4 mile out-n-back seemed long. When I reached the turn around point at mile 18, the volunteer asked if I would like a ride back to the start/finish area. Maybe it was the heat, but I was confused as to why she'd ask, lol. Was I over a cut-off that I wasn't aware of? Since the race director did not mention any time cut-offs at the start of the race other than the 14-mile aid station, I wasn't sure why she thought I would want a ride. I told the volunteer that I felt great and I would like to continue if that was okay. I finished a slice of watermelon, had my bottle refilled, and started the climb back up the mountain. It had taken an hour and a half to cover the 4 miles down the mountain. How long would it take for me to get back up the mountain? Surely this out-n-back was longer than 4 miles, lol.

Up until this point, I had thought that two ladies were behind me, but I found out later that they had dropped at the 14 mile point, so I was in last place. On my way up the mountain for the last time, I finally passed a runner that had been slightly ahead of me all day. He was going to make it, but I could tell that he was almost out of steam. As I passed, he told me to tell the volunteers to keep the finish line open for him. I told him that I wasn't going very far very fast, so he had no need to worry.

At the 22 mile mark, I looked at my watch and realized that it had taken me 3 hours to finish the entire 8 mile section. It didn't seem that hard, and I was doing a pretty steady run/walk. I couldn't believe I was that slow, but there it was, lol. Regardless, I was feeling so good that I didn't mind being slow today. There is something to be said for fresh mountain air!

The last 4.2 miles would be down the mountain, through the campground, and across the lake on the bridge. I finished in 8:04:15. After last week's fiasco, the first thing I did Sunday morning was to check and make sure that I was listed in the results. And there I was, lol.

It had been a long but wonderful day. I felt rejuvenated. Being out on the trails did wonders for my mind and body. On the drive home, I listened to Prince, one of my favorite artists. One of the his songs fit my mood for the day. Below are just a few verses from "Beautiful, Loved and Blessed":

When you found me I was just a piece of clay
I was formless, you gave me a new name
With the breath of life I now live abundantly
All I needed was the potter's hand
And the blood on Calvary

If I were ever to write my life story
I could truly say through all the pain and glory
I was just a piece of clay in need of the potter's hand
Cause when you whispered in my ear
The words I so now understand

Beautiful, loved and blessed
I'm better than the day before
Cause you made me confess that I am

Beautiful, loved and blessed
When you're free you're really free indeed
All you gotta do is just plant the seed

1 comment:

  1. Hi Angela,

    Sorry this comment is so late. But, congratulations on your successful completion of this race! It sounds like you had a great time and the day was perfect.

    By the way, I think most ultra race directors guestimate their mileage, so I tend to take mile markers (other then Umstead) as wild guesses:-) And the course profile looks like alligator teeth...really big alligator teeth!!

    Happy Running,