Real quick backstory: last summer/fall I went through another awesome ultramarathon training cycle only to NOT go to my goal race because my husband was in a horrific cycling accident (Google Grade 5 AC separation and try not to vomit). I ended my "season" with one last angry long run and threw myself back into what I called maintenance mode until it was time to train again. Then, just my luck, 2017 started off rocky for me health-wise... I had an strange long lingering virus, then bronchitis, and one of the worst IBS/colitis flare ups I have had in YEARS. I wasn't able to ramp up my training as planned and just when I thought I was getting somewhere, I mentally said "meh". So, I opted not to travel across the state to run a poorly trained for 50K and instead decided to register for the GRT 30K. This was a great decision!! Go me!
The course: If you read my recap last year on the 50K, then the 30K is the same course only it turns back around at the 2nd aid station at Route 528 around the 10 mile point. It's not exactly an out and back because the 30K takes a shortcut trail on the way back to the Start/Finish to cut the additional mileage it would have otherwise. I still found the course to have been long (about a quarter of a mile), but I am certainly not complaining! Trail runs are never exact and I love that. Extra time on the trail for the same price! 3258 feet of elevation gain.
Training: I've been doing more "listen to your body" and less "my training plan says X so I must X or die". I think this mentality has served me well because I am over 2 years injury free now and have no nagging aches or pains or anything. Every now and again my hip will bother me, but I can usually peg that on a slip on the trail or extensive running/sliding in super muddy conditions. Some foam rolling and maybe a day of recovery and I'm back at it. As far as a specific plan goes, I'm doing a bastardization of a plan from Relentless Forward Progress the build stamina and mileage for a goal that's still a few weeks out. I am also big on the MYRTL routine. I think it is a key to my injury free status.
Race morning: Up before the dawn. The 30K had to be checked in by 7:45 for an 8:00 start, so we left around 6. I wanted to get there in time to pick up my packet, hit up the bathroom a time or two, chill out, you know, standard stuff. Breakfast was my typical Ezekiel toast with peanut butter and a cup of coffee and I ate a banana about half an hour before the race. I was happy that this year they ditched the ankle strap timing method. Those things bother me because I'm always afraid it will fall off and I won't know when/where. They can also be hard to adjust for comfort.
Weather: PERFECT! Upper 40s to start and mostly cloudy. It warmed up a bit by the end of the race and the sun made some appearances. I was fine in just shorts and a T-shirt from start to finish. I did get really warm when the sun was out and I was pushing during some hard times. But really, you can't ask for better. Everyone that was there for last years pouring rain and mudfest commented on how this was a treat. The trail was in awesome condition. There were a couple of mushy spots, but they were few and far between. Like I said - perfect.
Race - First 10 miles: When the race started (which caught me by surprise as I was messing with my pack), I was a bit concerned because it seemed the majority of the field of 96 people just bolted out. The very front of the pack literally looked like they were sprinting like it was a 5K road race. It was a bit unsettling for me to find a comfortable spot and pace and my heart rate was jacked up already. (My "goal" was to run this via effort/heart rate as much as possible since this wasn't a final end of season goal event but more of like a hard trail long run test. If that makes sense.) Thankfully, once we got away from the parking area and off the bike path and actually into the woods it was easy to calm down, breathe, enjoy my surroundings and find my place, so to speak. I ended up in a small pack of people going at a pace that I thought was great and I was in my happy place enjoying the absolutely gorgeous trail. The hills came - oh did they ever, but this year I was not surprised by them and I was delighted to learn that my fitness has grown leaps and bounds. This definitely did not feel as rough as the year before. Where I am most proud of myself is my improvement in the downhills. Yes, most people walk/power hike up the steepest of hills or even every single hill but where you can lose out on a lot of time (and waste a lot of energy) is on the descents if you are timid about it. This year, very unlike last, I practiced bravery and bounded down those hills as boldly as I could. I passed quite a few people on the downhills, and because I have grown stronger in my hiking as well, I did not usually get passed back up the next big hill. At the first "Fluids only" aid station at a road crossing just under 5 miles in, I stopped to slam back a cup of plain water. Sometimes chugging my Gatorade makes my mouth feel weird and I like to wash it down with plain water at the aid stations. Around 6 or 7 miles in, I had lost my original group and was now with a new group but still hanging on to a good pace. I wasn't slogging along, but I wasn't going all out, either. It was just a nice pace for the day. Going up the last big hill and rocky part before the oh-so-glorious descent into the aid station/turn around point we lost a couple of people from the group. Around this point the fastest of the racers were coming back through on their way to the finish.
My family was waiting for me at this aid station just like they were last year when I did the 50K. I told them I didn't want to linger long, I was feeling good and I liked the group I was with, so I just stole some quick hugs and kisses, grabbed a cup of M&Ms off the table and went on my way. I managed to start my way back up the hill right behind the same gentleman I came down the hill with, so that was cool.
Cruising to the finish! All smiles! Yay, trail running!
And with that, I finished the 2017 Glacier Ridge Trail 30K. Great course, great event, great people. I'd do it again. So, now I've done the 50K and the 30K. I guess I'll have to do the 50 miler sometime to have the trifecta of medals.
This medal is huge! Then again, glaciers are usually huge, huh?