Hey there! I thought it would be a great day to recap my wild adventure in the woods from this past weekend!! The Piney Woods Ultra was a fantastic race, I mean who wouldn’t want to run 62 miles on trails from sunrise to sunset?! HA. It was no easy feat, but I did it and have lived to tell you about it. So let’s get straight to the recap.
I took a half day at work on Friday and made my way to East Texas to do some camping with my buddies at Tyler State Park. I was so excited to run somewhere new for a change, after doing a lot of my training out on the trails and roads in the Dallas area. Tyler is about 2 hours outside of from where I live. So it was a nice little road trip and it felt so good to get away. We stayed in one of the shelters out there in the park, which looks like a cabin with electricity and etc. I absolutely loved staying in the shelters out there. It was kind of like a GLAMping experience! And if you know me you know I am all about that. I ended up purchasing a cot just for this trip and I’m super glad I did. I will definitely be putting the cot to use for future camping trips with my fellow trail run peeps. I love my trail running fam.
We went to the race briefing, to dinner and then were in for the night. I actually got some great rest and then we were up and at ‘em for the 7 AM start. We had an earlier start, then the 50K/25Kers started at 7:30. The 5K/10K peeps were at 8 AM.
Look at all of the beautiful people that started the 100K! We had 3 girls total in our tribe, including myself. I was a tad nervous since both of the other ladies were fairly seasoned trail racers. But hey, even if I got last place – I’d still be in 3rd place, right? That was fine by me.
The horn blew and we were off into the sunrise. The temps were warm that day, with the humidity soaring through the roof. The only help we had that entire day was the shade of the beautiful piney wood trees, which truly helped. The course was a 7 mile loop, with an extra baby .75 mile loop attached to it, which he had to do a total of 8 times to hit our 62. I went through the first few loops fairly easily, stopping at all aid stations to grab a bite to refuel and then to refill my water bottle when needed. This race was brand new, so they had a few kinks to work out but I have to say they did an excellent job with keeping the aid stations stocked with pickles, mini PB&J sammies, electrolyte drinks, and all the goodies. The volunteers were also amazing. Some of my trail run club friends ran the shorter races, then stayed to volunteer all night long. And that, my friends is what the running community is all about. I can’t tell you how amazing these folks are and how much they helped me all through the night.
I think the hardest part with running these ultras over the 50 mile distance is dealing with the course and terrain when it gets dark. This particular course was deceivingly tough because it was fairly runnable in some parts but then there would be random roots and stubs that just come out of nowhere to trip you up or grab at your ankles, along with loose rocks on rolling terrain. That definitely made it hard to maintain a solid pace so I ended up having to resort to a lot of power hiking. Because of this, as well as the temps skyrocketing to 90 something degrees with humidity, we saw A LOT of people quit. Before sunset, the other 2 100K girls dropped and it was just me by my lonesome. I ended up being the ONLY chick still out there, enduring the conditions. So it definitely would have been understandable for me to just quit too. But that, I did not. I went out there and did what I said I was going to do. Because I am stubborn as all hell but that has helped me get through the toughest parts of my life thus far. Relentless forward progress! That is what it is all about.
There were many times during this race, especially during the hottest parts of the day, that I wanted to throw in the towel. But then I would think about the days that I ran twice a day, during the hottest parts of the day, out there alone. Running for no one but myself.
Running from my demons. Running from my fear. Running to happiness. Running to feel a sense of accomplishment. To be able to plop down on the couch with an adult beverage at the end of the day because dammit, I earned it. Running away from anger, and being upset about what happened at work or whatever that was completely out of my control. Running because others that I am close to cannot. To feel strong for myself, and for my family. All of these things roll around in my head when I am out there, on the trails all alone.
And when it got dark, my trail friends were there with me. Watching me and helping me get through it. These are the moments when I realize, that I am not alone in this life. There are people along for the ride, on this journey with me. That care, and that are cheering me on, and that want me to succeed and do well. And I want the same for them. The running community is a beautiful one, and it has saved me from a lot of heartache in my life.
When it was all said and done, I did it. People dropping all around me, I stayed in the game. I went there and did what I said I was going to do. 100k, you have been conquered.
1st place female and the ONLY female to finish. Finish time 19:03:04 – hey, I wanted to be finished just before the nightclubs closed. Trail party all night long.
Thank you Piney Woods Ultra for the deep woods therapy.
I needed it.
How was your weekend? Have you ever received any life lessons from running a race?