I think I found Heaven. Someone bottled it up and spread over 31 miles of a beautiful mountain in Huntsville, AL. I don’t think I have ever felt so at home while racing. I was in my element and the mountain won my heart but left the rest of me broken. I would not have it any other way.
The race started at Monte Sano State Park and took the runners through what they call “Alabama’s Toughest Trail Run.” Mist definitely provided a very technical trail which included an abundant amount of rocks (smooth, jagged, gravel and boulders) allowing for several close calls for face plants and twisted ankles. It had rained for several days before causing 70% of the trails to greet us with thick mud puddles. Wet muddy shoes coupled with leaves added to the difficulty of navigating the trails not to mention the extra 5 lbs of weight it added to each foot.
The first 23.5 miles of the trail run was challenging but what lied ahead from 23.5-29 was two tough, long climbs that will be imprinted in my memory forever. Waterline was at mile 24 and consisted of 600 feet of elevation gain over one mile in which part of it was climbing the side of a waterfall grabbing onto roots to pull you up the side of the falls and it was made even more difficult with the mud and lack of footing. To put it in perspective it took me almost 21 minutes to complete mile 24!
Rest Shelter (can you say misnomer) was at mile 29. I am not sure how to explain how painful it was 29 miles into a trail run to hit another 600 foot climb. This one tested you not only physically but mentally as well. By this time your quads are crushed from not only the ascents but the downhill technical sections as well. But the thoughts of the finish line being so close heals the pain and weariness. Once you get to the top of the climb the sight of an aid station with a sign that says “1.8 miles to go” was Heaven sent.
The last leg into the finish all I could do was think about the 5 hours and 20+ minutes I spent on Mist, the volunteers that were just out of this world, how amazed I was that Dink Taylor could successfully setup such and amazing race and how proud I was to be part of an incredible adventure.
– At registration I said my name and the volunteer (James Hurley – sweet guy!) said I recognize your name. Then he puts the local paper on the table and says, you are seeded top 3 woman. I was completely embarrassed and asked why I was seeded! After I crossed the finish line as the 2nd overall female I see Dink and he says, “That is why you were seeded in the top 3.”
– I stopped for at least a minute at each aid station pounding M&Ms like they were going out of style. All the volunteers were like, “You are the top female, why don’t you take the cup with you and keep going.” I kept thinking why would I do that when I can just relax and socialize? At mile 26.4 I was passed by Dana Overton a well known ultra trail runner in them there parts. Oh, I guess they were telling me I should keep moving so I did not get passed 🙂
– After the race I was in the lodge and see the man that was behind me at Waterfall. He comes up to me and says, “I wanted to let you know that I did not look up your skirt. I looked down the entire time.” Ummmm, I had shorts under my skirt! I wonder what the guys thought when a skirt passed them in pink arm warmers and gloves…nice!
– Major congrats to my friend Jason that not only destroyed Mist but also my time! Pulling off a 5:11 with a stress fracture in his shin. Now that is tough! Way to go J! You are now officially better than me at EVERYTHING!