Earlier this summer I was not able to run at all. My foot was comfortably resting in an air cast, more lovingly known as the BOOT. My trail running destiny for the summer looked bleak. I had high hopes for a summer filled with mountain races and trail running madness but insteadI was sentenced to 6 weeks of cross training, NO running and then a slow build up of miles–on the ROAD. My physical therapists at the Alpine Clinic heavily cautioned me against trail running maybe until even the end of the summer but due to decreased stability in my ankle from so much time off. But, I am stubborn! I had goals and I had already had to cross too many races off my summer calendar and was pining away for the peace that you can find on a quiet trail.
They cautioned me that by the end of the summer perhaps I could try a half marathon, on the road of course and certainly not the Jay Peak trail running festival 25K. I wanted to listen but have also been listening very carefully to my body and have been monitoring the progress with my foot (thankfully the Peroneal Tendonitis has been staying in check and not keeping me from running!). I waited until a week before the race and decided my foot was feeling good and that this would be the perfect race warm-up for the New Hampshire Pinnacle 50K coming up in just about a month now (well, after running the course at Jay the 50K might almost feel easier). Even though it is never fun to DNF (did not finished) I figured that if I started the race and things were heating up with my tendonitis I could always drop out of the race. I wanted to accept the challenge of running the Jay Peak 25K. Thankfully even though I had read all of the course descriptions I did no truly know what this mountain would have in store for me on race day.
The race began with a nice easy flat section for about a mile which immediately took you into the first climb and by climb I mean, yes we were going UP and only UP. The course wound its way through the woods with runners weaving in and out of trees on the slippery mucky trail. Within a mile and a half I l completely negotiated a deep muddy patch incorrectly and went down into the mud quickly righting myself to keep the flow of runners moving.
The pace quickly slowed as the trail grew steeper as we climbed the ski mountain. I was thankful to have recently completed a hike on the Falling Waters, Franconia Ridge and Bridle Path Trails in the White Mountains because my body remembered the feeling of pulling myself up over the rocks and boulders. Going up in places required nimble feet and the use of your arms, shoulders and back almost as if climbing a ladder or a rock wall (today my arms were sore when I was stirring some home made play-doh on the stove). It is amazing how running truly can be a full body sport (and this is where the cross training and weight training pays off!). I was wishing during this point in the race that I had been able to spend more of the summer running on the trails and in the mountains but now I have renewed goals. The runners who were most successful on this course regularly train in places like the White Mountains where the trails can be very technical and relentless. I aspire to be as strong as the front runners at this race. They carry with them both physical and mental strength that is inspirational and makes me want to train harder!
The first climb seemed to go on forever. Reaching the top of that first trail felt monumental and thankfully there was an aid station at the top where I could regroup and find some oxygen.
And now due to extreme fatigue and muscle soreness I am going to make you wait for the rest of my race recap while I head to bed and continue to rehydrate. Stay tuned for more about my comeback to trail running and until then happy running! Please share your race stories with me.