Saturday was the Hyner Trail Challenge. I ran the 25k and my brother Tyler ran the 50k. We both had awesome days!
Hyner View State Park is about 2.5 hours away, so me, my brother and my parents went up the day before and stayed overnight. My parents treated me to a delicious "down home" meal the night before... Salmon, coleslaw, mac and cheese, and an apple dumpling!
I slept great. Breakfast was half of this sad waffle and half of the bagel. Hotel breakfasts are hit or miss! I was on the road headed for Hyner by 7:15.
The 50k runners started at 8 so I didn't get to see Tyler. I started at 9 and had time to see my parents before the race. My dad ran Hyner a couple years ago so I was asking him some questions about the course. I didn't research it much ahead of time because I planned to run the race for "fun". I did know there were 3 insane climbs and that it's a VERY tough course. I mean really, what else did I need to know?
I lined up right in the front. Hear me out. If I don't line up at the front for trail races, I get stuck behind people running slower than me and then I have to use so much energy to pass.
The first mile of the race is on the road. I like when trail races start this way because it gets the runners spread out before the single track. My first mile clocked in at a 7:01! Lining up in the front ended up being a good decision because while I did have to pass some people on the single track, it wasn't a lot.
The next two miles were single track along the cliffs. It was semi flat, very muddy, and there was a waterfall we somehow had to pass by without getting swept off the cliff! If my mom saw that she would be so mad!
Yeah, that's a sheer drop. (Not a picture I took. In fact I didn't take any of these!)
Somewhere back on the single track I passed a woman. I knew there were at least two more women in front of me, but I wasn't sure if there were more. After mile one, not a single woman passed me. That's pretty cool, right!?
Around Mile 3 we came to the first climb, Humble Hill. It was about a mile up to the scenic overlook where people hang glide. This was a VERY steep climb. My calves were getting really tight... tighter than they had ever been. It made me nervous! This hill was never ending! It was the toughest hill of the race.
Consider me humbled.
We were rewarded for our efforts on Humble Hill by a huge crowd of people cheering and banging on cowbells. At the aid station I gulped down 3 Gatorades. I didn't stay long. I was feeling a bit competitive at this point. I hate when I get this way! It's so stressful worrying about how I am going to place at a race. Why couldn't I just run for FUN like I planned?
This is my "I'm having fun" face.
Miles 4-6 were downhill. Downhill running is not my strength. People always pass me on the downhills and I pass them on the climbs. It was super muddy and slippy, yet there were dudes just flying down the steep sections.
Miles 6-9 were the toughest for me, both physically and mentally. First of all, my Garmin had been shutting off so I did not have an accurate mileage or pace on my watch. My quads were pretty darn tired as well and that made me nervous. There was a lot of race left to be run! It was too early for my quads to get shredded.
This section was a very long gradual climb with stream crossing after stream crossing. Since it had rained the night before, the water was high and it was moving fast! I didn't mind getting wet and the cold water felt good.
Eventually, we got to the top of the never ending wet and rocky incline. I could hear people cheering. An aid station was just ahead! I drank three more Gatorades and off I went.I was really hoping the last half of the race would fly by.
Miles 9-11... I don't remember a whole lot of the next two miles. There was some downhill and lots of rocky parts where the trail was a stream. I tried to just let gravity do it's job and not twist an ankle. Lots of dudes passed me. Don't worry, I passed them on the SOB.
Mile 11-12(ish) is the last huge climb, SOB. It starts with just slogging up a hill, then a lot of climbing via switchbacks. I did pass a lot of people here, including the two women who were ahead of me. Somewhere back on the course, someone at an aid station told me I was the fourth female. Well now I was the second! OMG THE PRESSURE!!! I could barely take it!
The SOB was so steep you basically had to crawl up it. I think this is where I cut my fingers. (At the finish line I noticed I was bleeding hahaha!)
Okay, I'm not saying the SOB wasn't tough, but it wasn't as hard as the Stairway To Heaven at the end of the Damn Half. The Hyner course is hard, but it was NOT as bad as I thought it would be. Or maybe I am just a stronger runner than I thought I was? Or maybe I was having a good day? Who knows? But I made it up the SOB to the last aid station. I had a volunteer quickly pour some water in my hydration pack. I chugged three Gatorade and off I went. Now I was worried about those women catching me!
The word on the street was that miles 12-15.5 were all downhill or flat, and they really weren't kidding. The problem was it was an EFFORT to keep up the pace at this point. I wanted to be lazy and walk every little incline and take my time on the downhills that were tearing up my quads... but I didn't. I wanted to be done. I wanted to make it to the finish line as the second woman! I never looked behind me. I didn't want to know if anyone was right on my tail! Luckily, I am pretty strong mentally, and I just put my nose down and GOT. IT. DONE.
The last mile started on the road and took us across the Hyner Bridge again. My plan was to run this last part as fast as I could. I'm pretty good at turning on the fast twitch muscle fibers at the end of a race. The problem was my calves were about to seize up! I felt them spasm every time I tried to run too fast. I told myself to ease up the pace because if I pushed it and cramped (like I have done at the end of a couple other races) I would have to walk and possibly lose my spot as second woman. I was managing an 8:30 mile so it's not like I was running super slow.
The Finish: I was very, very excited to finish. Not only was I excited to stop running, but I knew my parents were going to be SO PROUD of me! I had no intention of placing so well and I wanted to make them happy. Needless to say, they were very excited to see me so early on! My mom was giddy and my dad was very proud of me. That made all the pain on the race course WORTH IT!!!
I don't think I mentioned it much in this recap, but the course was gorgeous. There were many times I made the conscious decision to look around me because it was so pretty. I know in trail races you can get stuck staring at the ground. (For good reason, of course!) But whenever I was able to, I looked around and appreciated the beauty of Hyner State Park. I am SO LUCKY I am healthy and have the desire to trail run. It's a great way to get outside and appreciate nature!
There was lots of post race food. The first thing I did was drink a coffee. Then I started in on a Diet Pepsi. I made a plate with a hot dog, piece of pizza, and BBQ chicken. I ate the hot dog and pizza about 45 minutes after I finished. I saved the chicken for the way home. Yes I ate all the skin off of it and everything!
Chicken in a cooler. Yaaaaaaas!
I would have liked to wait for my brother but we weren't really sure when he would finish. Even though he started before me, he was running twice as far. I probably should have stayed around but I was getting tired and cold. It was time to make the trip home.
When I was nearly home, Tyler called me. He crushed his goal of breaking 6 hours and came in at 5:49! Awesome job, Tyler!!!
The next day, I was quite sore. Going DOWN stairs sucked. My quads were feeling it the most, then glutes and calves. My heels hurt when I woke up but that went away quickly. On day two my quads still hurt. Glutes were fine and calves were reallllly sore! Later that day I mowed the lawn and things were feeling good. I plan to run tomorrow! (Tuesday!)
Time: 3:14:45 (11:44/m)
Age Group: 2/109
2nd out of 363 women
Time: 5:49:21 (11:30/m)
Age Group: 19/67
38th out of 203 men
What I am most proud of is that I didn't get lazy physically or mentally during this race. If I walked up a hill, it was tactical, because I knew I could walk just as fast as I could run. When I needed to put my nose to the ground mentally and get it done, I did it.
I'm so glad I ran Hyner. I needed this.
Thanks for reading my race report!