2014 Frogtown Trail Challenge

October 12, 2014

Yesterday, I set out to conquer the toughtest ten miles of trail that I've ever encountered! The Frogtown Trail Challenge!

My running partner and I set out early Saturday morning for our first trail race. We knew we weren't ready, but we just couldn't resist the allure of running a full mile in a creek! Not everyday that you get to do that!

We arrived early, and were dismayed to find a LONG line of cars waiting to get in to the private property where the race is held. There were far more competitors than we had imagined - over 400 - but everything was really well organized, and very upbeat!

My anxiety built while we checked in our bag - the volunteers took our dry shoes and socks, and placed them in dry trash bags with our bib numbers labeled on the outside. They would be delivered to mile-marker 5, where we could change after our run in the creek.

After the four mile racers set off in five or six waves, we started self-sorting ourselves into starting corrals. I positioned us into the last wave, near the back, since the race was timed off chip time and not gun time. We started out nice and steady, and we were in dead last before we knew it, which was exactly where I wanted us to be. As we approached our first set of obstacles before mile-marker one, there were no crowds and we were able to carefully navigate through them.

We picked up a couple of places in the woods before emerging back into the starting field and making a long downhill run through the tents amidst the cheering of spectators. It was really inspirational!

We continued to pick up places through miles two and the start of mile three, but then, we got to the biggest longest mud slick hill that I have ever encountered. I really wish they had ropes thrown down, but it probably wasn't so bad for those who were prepared with trail shoes. Our street gear just wasn't cutting it.

We climbed on all fours for what seemed like forever, stopping several times to rest against trees. We lost several places during this ordeal, and when I stopped near the top to bring my heart rate down (I was nearing my max heart rate), we were overtaken by sweepers. Laura dumped cold water on my head as I tried to catch my breath before we proceeded carefully. Once we made the top of the hill, we picked up speed (and places) once more.

Before we knew it, we were upon mile four, where we got our first taste of creek running. We were like giggling school girls as we dramatically thrashed through the water. Some other runners seemed to hesitate before getting in, but we jumped in with both feet, literally!

After a short creek run, we turned out of the creek and headed towards a water station and a short run through the trees. As we entered the water and ran back downstream again, it began to pour. Soon after, thunder and lightening - and the creek got deeper and deeper. I tried to push the thoughts of being knee-deep in creek water during a thunderstorm out of my mind, but it definitely stuck with me. I was relieved when we covered the mile and exited the water.

About a half mile after exiting the creek, we arrived at mile marker five, where they had our "dry" shoes. They weren't so dry any more, because it was still pouring down rain, but they were, at the very least, without sand in them, which was more than I could say for the ones I was wearing. I was so greatful to put on my tried-and-true Brooks Ghost 7 and Zensah Compression Socks and set off again. By the time we left that station, refueled by Powerade, the rain had slacked off.

At mile 5.5, we got caught in a mud gulley with some yellow-jackets who were quite angry from the storm. Neither of us got stung, but they made their presence known. Laura tried valliantly to climb out, and after three attempts, was successful. She threw me a big stick down, and I made it most of the way up before I grabbed her hand and hoisted my way out. I threw the stick back down for those behind us.

Mile six and seven were muddy. Torrentially muddy. We couldn't run at all because the risk of injury was so high. My muscles started to cramp due to our slowed pace, and miles 8 and 9 were unbearable. The water stations we got to were kind, and I dumped copious amounts of water over my head, trying to stave off the nausea. The terrain was horrid, and with each slip, my muscles cramped and spasmed that much more.

I would have quit at 9.5 if there had been a four-wheeler handy, but Laura held my hand and walked me through the worst of the mud bogs. In the last half mile, we were passed by 5-8 runners, and caught by the sweepers once more. No way they would have caught us if I was in better condition, but by this point, I had a killer headache, awful cramps and debilitating nausea!

I saw the finish line photographer, and mustered my last energy to smile as best I could a run for the finish, but as soon as I got my photo taken, I walked again the last twenty feet to the finish. I was sure we came in last, but it turns out from our results that we finished second and third to last.

Laura and the volunteer crew were amazing, and they helped me collect my things and get to my car, and Laura drove me home. I recovered quickly and was soon planning my next trail challenge - can't wait to get back out there!

So what did you do this weekend? :)


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