The cow bell rings and the race begins, I stand at the front of the pack to try and get an early lead and before I knew it the front runner is out of sight. The first couple of miles leading to the Blue Hole spot was fairly simple, not too technical. I was able to keep up with a couple of fellas, Cory and Rob, who were keeping a great pace, so I tried to tag along for as much as possible.
I had been training for the run and felt comfortable with the goal of not just finishing the race, but to cap myself and finish before 2 hours and 30 mins. If I could just keep pace with Cory and Rob I felt as though it wouldn’t be a problem finishing with time to spare. We all conserved energy when we needed to by hiking the dread seemingly endless climb after the Blue Hole up to the road crossing but once on the Seven Hollows Trail I believe we all found our second winds and kicked it into gear for a bit.
Immediately upon entering onto Seven Hollows all I wanted to do was to stop and take pictures. “Its been a while since I’ve seen these cliffs,” I thought to myself, this trail is so pretty. Instead I just looked around and pretended I was holding a camera and “click-click,” took some mental pictures. I suppose our pace brought us right behind the person Cory nicknamed our “rabbit” and just like that Cory and Rob kicked it into overdrive to catch up with him. A couple of turns here, then a hill and before I knew it we were out of Seven Hollows and heading towards Cedar Falls. A tall man named Jeff who was running as though he was on his second lap and full of energy sped quickly by me just in time for me to stop and watch the Falls without feeling judged by another racer for stopping. Sure, I may have been a little tired but I mean, Cedar Falls was rushing faster than I had ever seen so it was very nice to witness.
After crossing this cool, narrow wooden bridge I completely missed the 270 degree turn where racers were suppose to get back on the trail that leads back to Davies Bridge. Apparently I was not the only one to make this mistake as I soon ran into Jeff and he tells me that we are going the wrong way and we had been on the wrong course for some time. Checking the map we figured out how far we had gone in a circle and passed more racers who had been following us as we headed back in the right direction. Jeff and I decided to go back and retrace our footsteps even though some of the racers we were passing felt certain that we were going backwards. Not knowing which way to go was so frustrating but I finally decided to stick to my guns and go back the way I came and was rewarded with finding the correct path back to the finish line. Finished in 2 hours 33 minutes. Thinking of the wasted time while getting lost at the end I just say to myself, “Well even though my goal was 12.4 miles in 2.5 hours, I instead chose (unknowingly) to go 13.4 miles and still feel like a winner.”