Field: 100-200 between both races.
Spectators: None. There were some other people out enjoying the trails that morning, but no intentional spectators.
Start/Finish: At the Group shelter in Clinton Nature Preserve
Course: Loop course. Triple loop for the 39k, 1 loop for the 10k.
Other: The race is put on every year by boyscout troop 39. It serves as one of their big projects and fundraisers for the year. The boys make the medals, man the course, present the flag pre-race, and hand out aid.
Handmade by the boyscouts each with your place on the back (I was 24th).
Confession: This isn’t my favorite course in the city.
Don’t get me wrong, I love so many things about this race; the people, the volunteers, the effort the boy scouts put in and what the race means to them. But outside of those things, I'm not in love with this course. Every year it’s hot and uncomfortably humid (even by Atlanta standards), and the humidity gets trapped in the thick canopy creating a suana. There is what seems like an endless number of switchbacks and turns on the course that prevent you from ever really getting your momentum going. There are tons of roots and rocks to stub your toes and trip on as you get tired. And did I mention it’s always hot?
After that glowing description I’m sure you are wondering why I would sign up for it for a third year in a row (10k in 2013, 39k in 2014). Why take most of a sunny Saturday to put myself through hot, bitchy miles when I already have more than enough bib moments on the calendar for July? Why not just run miles on my own terms on joyous, runable trails and just make a $39 donation to the boy scouts? All I have is two words for you: Mental Toolbox. As much as I didn’t want to run this race, I needed to run this race to have the feeling, the memories, and the confidence I could do it in my mental toolbox for Snakebite in August.
Last year I ran the 39k as well at Troop Trot. It was hot, hard, and my feet bled. I experienced finger swelling for the first time, learned the true joys of coke, and never felt overly comfortable during the 5+ hour effort. When I got to Snakebite 50k, as hard, hot, and long as it was, there were several times during the race that I thought to myself, this is waayyy better than Troop Trot. So much more runable and a higher/thinner canopy to let the humidity escape. I need and want to have that feeling again this year. So less than 2 weeks before the Troop Trot I found myself logging into ultrasignup once again, and forking over $39. All to have it in my mental toolbox when Snakebite gets hard.
Needless to say when I arrived at the start line I was less than pumped about what laid before me. No I wasn’t sulking around the start being a negative Nancy, I just didn't have my usual pre-race excitement. Luckily it didn't take long to loosen up and get in the grove. Between the familiar faces, the energy of the boy scouts, and meeting several new faces, I was ready to hit the trail and get some miles in.
Nothing like some sun exposure to make you feel good on a hot day.The forecast for the day was a high of 96 (feels like temp 100+), so it was a guarantee I would get in some solid heat training. My goal for the race was simple: complete the miles, continue to work on fueling and salts, and be patient/relaxed. The more long distances I run, the more I realize staying mentally calm and relaxed is just as important as being physically ready. Tremendous amonut of energy can be wasted stressing about mileage. With no goals other than finish without needing medical aid, it was a lot less stressful and much easier to keep the pace light.
Mile 20ish. Apparently too hot to close my mouth. #NotAnExpertThe miles went by uneventfully (in a good way). I ran the runable sections, felt fine with hiking the unrunables, took in fuel early and often, and hydrated like it was my job. I did get some finger swelling again in the late miles, so I need to up my salt consumption again, but nothing that wasn't fixed by a post-race bag of chips (Salt and Vinegar Kettle cooked, thanks for asking). Huge props to the boyscouts for having the coldest, icy-est sponges on course (they felt amazing) and more watermelon than a girl could ask for. As I rolled into the last aid station around mile 20, I heard a fellow run out, "Hey, you're the girl with the blog." Definitely a first during a race! Brooks had read my recap of last year's Troop Trot and somehow he still thought it was a good idea to run it. I forgot to get a picture (heat on the brain), but I will try to next time. I actually run by his workplace on my runcommute home! Small world.
For those of you playing along at home, yes, this is my 4th red race shirt in a row.
Not sure what is going on with the sassy hip thing in this one. Brain may still have been melted.Overall the race went well. I keep the pace moderate, focused on getting in some solid training, and enjoyed miles with my fellow runners. Basically, I sweated and it was good. I stayed mentally in it for about 22 or 23 miles and at that point I was close enough just to grit it out. I am very happy I got off my butt and decided to do this race because I wouldn't have gone looking for hot, annoying trail otherwise.
Have you ever run a race for mental training? Do you like running in the heat?