Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hashawha Hills 50k (race report 2013)

This race takes place down in Westminster MD which is less then an hours drive south for us. Some friends ran it last year and said that it was a blast. Never mind that it costs less then $20 to enter! The biggest problem about the Hashawha race is that it is a lottery entry. Which, of course, meant that Rik got in and I didnt. In fact, I was pretty far down on the wait list. So resolved to the fact that I would volunteer while waiting for him to run.

The Sunday before the race we went up and ran 20 miles on the AT. Then on Monday I got an email saying that I was in. Now some people can run this much but I have been trying to be "smarter" with my running and running two 20+ milers the two weekends before this race were just not in the "smart plan". But I couldnt pass it up now and decided to go run but to only do one of the two 15.5 mile loops as a nice training run.

Leading up to the race the weather was forecasted as rain, sleet, freezing rain. The whole bit. We headed out early the morning of to try and get there early. We did and were instructed to park in the first lot. The lot was a sheet of ice! We knew it was going to be a good day!

Luckily, registration, bathrooms, etc is all located inside a nice warm building...
About 100 people at the start.
Alan giving us pre-race instructions.
After the pre-race instructions we were told to head out for a short 2 minute walk down to the pavilion and the start of the race. We all gathered under the pavilion since it was cold and misty out. The next thing we heard "GO"! And off we went.

Down through some grass, out onto the road (be careful here its slippery!), and then back onto a trail in less then a mile. The ground was very frozen. There were patches of ice here and there. It was misting and about at the freezing point. I was moving slowly and hanging towards the back and getting warmed up.

Much of the first 8 miles are a very nice mix of trails and a little bit of road. Within the first 5 miles we have an out and back section with the out being downhill and the back being uphill. Oh, and dont forget the small creek crossing here. I was able to keep my feet dry the first time but not the second! The first time with the out and back the trails were still frozen. The second time they were a complete slippery mud fest!

After the out and back were more trails before you hit the road section. Yep, sure enough, I fell on some black ice on the road. I felt myself going and tried to maneuver myself over to the side of the road but then just went down. Hard enough to rip my pants but still not to bad. Evidently quiet a few people went down on this section and the others just got lucky!
Blurry picture of the rip in my pants.
I didnt stop at the 8 mile aid station because they said it was a 2.3 mile loop before we would come back to the same FAMOUS AID STATION. So I headed up the hill instead. This is a section of hilly trail followed by some fields and then a little more field. Some chick was headed out of the loop as I was headed in and she said how beautiful it was up there. All I saw was fields. Okay it wasnt that bad. I am just not a field runnin' lover. And the field sections were way less then 2 miles but I felt it.

Back to the aid station and I did take some goodies and soda and kept on moving. As I left one of the guys told me to wash my shoes off in the up coming creek. Down just a ways was our big creek crossing of about 10 ft maybe. It was up over my ankles and there was no way to avoid getting wet. My feet were numb as I came out the other side but warmed back up quickly. And I continued on to what I thought was the hilliest part of the course.

This entire 5 miles I contemplated whether I would go for a second loop or not. This was a much hillier course then I had anticipated but I was moving along okay. Did I really want a technical DNF even though I went into this knowing I was only going to run one loop. I did want one of those homemade finishers mugs. And I would really like a finish so that I have a better chance of getting in next year. Oh but those hills were really starting to wear on me.

Just as I was deciding to call it quits when I got done the first loop...I heard something and looked to my right to see the start/finish area! Already! It took my by pleasant surprise and as you can imagine, gave me some mojo to keep pushing on. I quickly grabbed some grub and headed back out.

As I headed back out, Bob and company were headed in and he hollered that he was watching me and they were going to catch up, lol. I took off while stuffing food in my face and kept moving.

Almost as soon as I got back into the trail I was regretting my decision. The misty rain had stopped and it had warmed slightly and the trails were already getting muddy. I thought about turning around several times but instead kept moving forward. The out and back section was beyond muddy this time but everyone we past was so pleasant with "good jobs" and "way to goes". I was actually flip flopping with several runners at this point which was nice to have others around me.

Things were uneventful to the aid station. The aid station itself was a muddy mess as well and they were warning incoming runners to watch their steps. Very slippery mud. I left for the field loop following a guy and we ended up being about the same pace. We came back around and hit up the aid station one last time and headed out for out last 5ish miles.

The water crossing seemed deeper this time but not as cold. It was even muddier on the other side and then for quite a ways beyond that. Eventually I was able to get a good run going again. Until we hit those big hills near the end. I had to stop more then once...okay, a bunch of times to catch my breath. My legs were ready to be done! I ended up passing my friend on the one of the last hills. His legs were more fried then mine. So I headed off on my own to the finish.

As I was coming along the ridge Rik saw me from down below at the finish and I heard him yell my name. It made me smile and pick up the pace again down and around the trail until I came out to the small field crossing to the finish. As I rounded the corner I wanted to walk but Rik was there encouraging me to run it in and even started running with me. I saw the time on the clock and realized that if I hustled it in that it would be my second fastest 50k! So I gave it all I had up that little hill, lol.
The last of the trail is behind me.
Headed up to the finish!!
And I oh so happily collected my very own homemade pottery mug from Alan with a finish time of 7:06!!

Is this not the coolest mug you've ever seen!
After I chilled for a couple of minutes, cheered some more runners in and talked with my friend Traci, we walked back up to the Environmental Center where I was able to get some food, clean up and change in the nice warm building. There were still alot of people sitting around sharing stories of the day.

Evidently the 2013 Hashawha Hills 50k will be known as "The Ice and Mud Year"!!!

I cant believe I just ran another 50k! And I cant believe my time considering the conditions of the day. It was awesome. Cant wait to do it again next year! Hopefully with some rested legs I will be able to do even better. Unless the weather wants to throw something else at us of course.

**Btw, the reason for no on trail pictures this time was because of the ugly weather, I was afraid to take my phone out of the baggie I had it safely stored away in during the run. You will have to run the race yourself to see the beautiful trails :)



  1. Great job! Funny how things can change once you are out there. Those mugs are great. I can see why you wanted one! Hope you are recovering well!

  2. You did awesome!! As I was reading your story I was thinking "oh, I hope she does the loop a second time!". I was so glad you finished in the yucky conditions! That mug is awesome! Great job, girl!

  3. Awesome job!!! Sounds like even with the yucky conditions you rocked it!!!!

  4. Fantastic job, Stacey!!! Love that you turned around and went back out and finished the race. Woo hoo! I love trail races that turn into stories of battle wounds and epic adventures. Those are the most memorable! Love the mug, too. Use it like a badge of honor!

  5. great job! So glad you are ok, too!!!! Way to rock it!

  6. Congratulations! Way to keep going even when you didn't want to! That race sounds like an incredible adventure! I'm sure I would have torn up more than my tights! :P

    1. Nah. I was cursing those "cheap" tights. They should have never ripped. I didnt go down that hard. I dont think I did anyhow ;)

  7. i bet that is now the best coffee mug on earth!!! congrats to you, I really want to do an ultra, but i love the idea of doing it on trails and we don't have any to practice on!

    1. Its a shame I dont drink coffee though, huh. I will you it for my water and soda!
      I cant even imagine not having trials to be able to run on. Wow. You should move! ;)

  8. Very cool. I so want to do this event next year. Do you know when the registration opens and how hard it is to get in? Would come at a good time. And that is a great time considering the ice and mud stuff.
    What's your next race coming up?

    1. YOu will have to keep an eye on the website but it is a lottery so you can sign up anytime during that week and it goes by how the DOW closes on the last day. So it is all fair. Like I said, I was pretty far down on the wait list and made it in at the last minute. Weather probably played a big role in that but it was oh so fun!
      Not sure of my next race...maybe BRR?! Im in but not sure if I am ready for 50 yet!
      Do you have anything planned yet?!

    2. With all the runs you have had the last few weeks, you will be fine at BRR. I am signed up for Hyner 50k again. We'll see how it goes.