Sunday, April 29, 2012

Triple Crown Trail Marathon: I ran & ran

I ran and ran everyday and I acquired a sense of determination .
A sense of spirit that I would never, never give up.
The triumph cant be had without the struggle.
-Wilma Rudolph

Last year at this time I would have been tapering for my first ever marathon but life would have it differently and was instead just returning to running from an injury. Then last fall I tried again for a marathon but life decided that it would be way more fun to run a 50k! Now I am training for another 50k and decided to run TC marathon as a "training run". No big deal right? Just another long run....

Saturday morning was chilly and overcast. Stacey's perfect running weather! We got to the White Clay park of Delaware early and checked in. Then nervously chatted with friends until the start of the race. Why so nervous for a long training run you ask? Because this race has a creek that is 80yards wide and can be anywhere between calf to waist deep. FYI-I have an extreme fear of water that is not in a pool! I wasnt the only one interested in how deep the creek was that day because it was one of the first questions asked. The RD said something about it being 5ft high while pointing right above his knees...

The half marathon people started first and then 10mins later we were sent on our way. Started out nice and easy while chatting with a friend. Things were going good and then I heard it...the creek. We got down to it and I realize that it is not near as bad as I had pictured it in my head. Whew! But man was it cold. Got to the other side and had to walk for a couple of steps until I could feel my feet again. Then we start winding our way around some single track following the red pie plate markers. This section had alot of little downed trees to jump over. Then came the section of little MTB roller hills-they were fun! I passed the aid stations as I had my pack on and didnt need anything. But my stomach started to bother me which is weird because I never have issues and certainly not this early in a run. I thought maybe I was pushing to hard so I backed off my pace a bit.

By mile 8 my gut was hurting and I was mentally calculating how many miles to the bathrooms. I quickly decided 5miles was to much and head off trail and up the hill for a big tree. I turned around and saw runners down below so I headed up a little further to another tree. I squatted for a bit and nothing as I watch more runners fly past below. I realize that this is not going to work so I stand up and my quads immediately scream at me for squatting to long. I hobbled down to the trail and start running again. My quads are fine. My stomach, for what ever reason is now fine. But my left knee is so tight, sore and almost locked up. WTH?! I keep running happy to be following the blue plates now which means I am on the return trip. I am happy to get to the creek this time because I knew the ice cold water would feel good on the knee. I go running thru with a couple of other people and up the muddy hill. My time is slower then what I was hoping but I am still moving at a pretty good pace.

Mile 13 is the half way point and the end of the first loop which is the start/finish area. I stopped to fill my pack and take some Ibuprofen. My knee is really hurting bad. I know that my goal time of 5:30 is out because it is almost 3hrs at that point. My friend tells me she is dropping because her husband dropped and she doesnt want to make him wait a couple more hours for her. I said that I was gonna run back down to the creek (3miles) and if my knee wasnt any better I was going turn around...hoping that was enough time for the meds to kick in. I catch up to two girls who are walking and I walk with them while eating my Fig Newtons. They seem to be about my speed which is cool so we hang together with them chatting and me saying one or two words, the usual. Find out that the one chick is running her first marathon but has already run a 50k, like me! And the chatty one is doing 12 marathons in 12 months deal. She is on #8 today.

We do good for these three miles. Walking the hills and running the rest. My knee continues to hurt but I just keep jogging along. We get down to the creek and without thinking about it I cross with my new friends. Except that they are taking forever to cross so I take off running awhile and at that point I realize that I am in for the full marathon. No turning back now! Still walking the hills my knee is starting to finally settle down and we get to the really nice section of single track which is fairly flat, nice greens and a bunch of small downed trees. My knee must have been feeling okay because I went to jump over the first very small tree and about died of pain when I lifted my leg that high. I continued to run along but at every tree I have to stop and either lift my other leg over first or do an almost straight leg pass with the left one. Grrr!

About an hour into this loop I get to an aid station and ask the girl to get my other Ibuprofen out of the back of my pack. I have never taken two doses of Ibuprofen on a run but I also have never had pain like this before and knew that if I wanted to finish this thing that this is what I would have to do. Onward. Mix of walking hills and running the rest. Chatty girls caught back up to me going down a hill. Which surprised me because I though I was running pretty good at that point.

At about hour 5 the pain meds have taken hold and I am running with more of a stiff knee then pain. Get to another aid station and chatty girls hang out and I head off on my own. I hear them behind me once or twice but they never do catch up and I run the rest of the race alone. I cont to follow the red plates. At one point I am crossing a field and start to walk just because I am tired and am ready to hit the blue plates and be on the return already! All of a sudden I see the turn onto a fire road where I know that this is where the blue plates start and I start running again. The fire road is downhill and this is where, on the first loop I had stomach issues and think how good I am feeling this time around.

I hit more single track and feel like I am flying. I look down at my watch and think that if I can keep this pace I will be under 6:00. Everytime I wanted to walk or started to walk I would look at my watch and would start to run again. I really wanted to get under 6hrs now. I wind down to the creek one last time and it hits me. I am alone. Just me and the creek. I wont lie, anxiety came over me and I stood there for a couple of seconds just looking at it. Every other time I just ran right through it with everyone else. This time it was just me and the creek. I took a deep breath and thought "man this is going to feel SO good on my knee" and I stomped right on through that creek!

Up and out the other side I have about 3.5miles to the finish. I just keep trying to run the best that I can. Although my knee left knee wasnt to bad I must have still been running weird because my right knee was starting to get sore too. I pass the last aid station and up the last fire road and onto an uphill single track. I hiked it up the hill the best I could but could see that I was not going to make my 6hr goal either. So I pretty much just had it in my head to keep moving as fast as I could so that chatty girls wouldnt catch up to me! Once I got to the top of that hill was one last section of single track where I saw Rik waiting for me! Out of the single track and up one last grassy hill-I am pretty sure it was the biggest hill of the whole race! At the top people start yelling my name so of course I have to start running again. You run the field along a tree line. Around the end of trees and back up to the finish. Came thru at 6:12 in the end. It was so awesome to have everyone cheering me in!!!
There is actually so much more I would love to say but this is already long enough! Thanks so much for reading if you managed to make it the whole way through!

-Finished my first official marathon and did it on the trails.
-Rik PR'd his marathon with 3:58 and came in 4th place.
-Got to meet Kelly & his awesome wife Jo.
-Cheered in Jody and then her 70yo friend who was completing his 900th marathon!


  1. Oh, Wow! This is a great experience! I sure hope that knee is feeling better in the morning! And congrats to Rik, too!!!

  2. Strange, on bad-knee days I always take a long time crossing the creeks. The cold moving water is Mother Nature's Jacuzzi. Good job adjusting and continuing to the finish.


    John M.

    1. Nothing will make me take my time crossing the water. I probably clocked my fasyesy paces on the water crossings!

  3. Loved reading your blog/race report, Stacey!! What an amazing trail, huh? But, I'll agree...those downed trees were a bit of work after a while...and I only did ONE loop!! haha!! It was AWESOME finally meeting you & Rik. We hope to see you guys again soon.
    *~* HAPPY TRAILS *~*

    1. It was awesome meeting you guys to! Cant wait to see you again! Congrats to you on YOUR marathon as well!

  4. Great report , hope your knee heals quickly


    1. Thanks for reading Valerie! Knee is slowly getting better!

  5. Enjoyed reading your blog - The creek was a lot deeper and colder than I expected - up to mid thigh! - with lots of slippery rocks!It is a fun trail race. Congrats on your first marathon!! I have run "out of sequence" also - my first race was a 50k - only ten years later did I do a 5k! It's okay to do things the "wrong" way - just have fun and keep challenging yourself! :) Carol

    1. I have yet to do a 5k! Hopefully it wont take me 10 more years but im not to worried about it ;-)

  6. Good read and good run! Haha I bet the "Chatty Girls" would get a kick to read the nickname you gave them :-D Its a typical story of what happens on the trail - I always meet people, stay with 'em for some time - then separate. People add to the story of a race as much as the course and obstacles do.

    1. Thanks Nick! Hopefully I will catch up with you at YOUR race!!