One word: epic.
Yea that's epic, photo courtesy of Alex Tong
I'll start with the first race of the weekend, the TrailsRoc 0 Degree W.T.F. (Winter Trail Festival) 5 mile trail race. The premise of the race was simple, three different distances (5, 10, 15) costing only $1 per mile. Mike and I actually got a free voucher for the 5 mile race because we volunteered at the Ready, Set, Glow Run back in October.
We convinced Crystal and Joe to come run some races with us and the wheels were set in motion for a weekend of awesomeness!
After going to bed semi-late since Crystal and Joe were contending with the winter storm that hit Western New York over the weekend, we got up at a reasonable time and got ready to go to Powder Mills Park for the start of the race.
Some of us prior to the 5 mile race
When we arrived we just missed the start of the 15 mile race and we found some of our other friends who were racing. Our friends, Amber and Greg, even braved the cold and trails for the race! Some people may have even started the day with a pre-race shot of Jameson (I didn't).
We're all ready to go! Photos courtesy of Crystal
Before we knew it, it was time to start the race! We all went down for some final pre-race announcements (including talk of a crazy dog out on the course) and then we were off!
Mike at the start, photo courtesy of Alex Tong
You can see me and Crystal, photo courtesy of Alex Tong
I went into the race thinking that I wasn't going to "race race" it and I took the first mile relatively slowly. We were on single-track in the beginning and it was almost impossible to get around anyone anyway. I was behind Crystal in the beginning and she was having fun enjoying the sights and taking photos.
Along the course, photo courtesy of Crystal
The course has three major hills, the first hill is really a baby compared to the rest and people were slipping while they tried to get up it. I took my time and got my footing before taking a step. It also helped that I was wearing my YakTrax.
Everyone making their way up the hill, photo courtesy of Crystal
Around 1 mile into the race, I saw Joe off to the side. Crystal had slowed down to make sure he was alright and after asking him if he was ok, I continued on my way. I was running behind our friend, Jenn, for a bit. We were jumping over logs and cheering other runners on.
My favorite part about the course is that there were plenty of opportunities to see other runners coming from other directions. I wasn't even paying attention to pace and I was just enjoying myself out on the snowy trails. About two miles into it, I heard someone say "Go Jamie"! I had no idea who it was, I couldn't see them, but then later found out/figured out that it was our friend Steven who was running the 15 mile option.
I passed some friends running the 15 mile race and continued on my way. About 2.5 miles into it I looked down and saw Mike! I cheered him on and he waved, though he didn't realize right away that it was me cheering him on.
Since we had previewed the course twice, once at night and once during the day, I knew that we would be approaching the second hill around 3 miles. This part of the course included crossing the road, and as Amber, Sonia and I approached a car was coming. We didn't have the right of way as runners, but the car stopped for us and I told the volunteer "I'm going across!"
Right after crossing the road, photo courtesy of Stacey
After Sonia caught up to me she said, "I see you just wanted to pass me!" She was joking of course and we continued on after seeing some more friends who were out volunteering at the water stop.
Right before the huge hill I caught up to our friend Liz, running the 15 miler, and we chatted a bit. This hill literally makes your heart want to jump out of your chest! Some of the #trailsroc boys were at the top of the hill cheering people on and one of them said something like "come on Jamie you have to earn that Ironwoman status!"
When I got to the top I high-fived Liz and our other friend Steven and continued on my way! Sonia and I were running together and we just continued on. I could see Amber in front of me and eventually we caught up to her. As we came back to the road crossing we had to stop for a second for a car and then we got to the part of the course dubbed "hell on roots".
Mike at the top of "Hell on Roots", photo courtesy of Mike Lesher
This part of the course included the steepest hill that required the addition of a rope and we all slowly made our way up. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, maybe since it was my third time braving the hill, and after catching my breathe at the top I continued on my way.
I knew that there was about a mile left and I just focused on keeping up a good pace. At a little turn around on the course I saw Steven and Liz and they cheered me on. I loved that about the race, everyone was encouraging everyone to do their best!
There was one downhill that was a little slick and then before I knew it we were back at the lodge! Unfortunately, we had to run around a field before we could make our way to the finish line. I saw Jess, Mike and Greg cheering me and Amber on and I tried to pick up the pace. Amber and I almost collided as we rounded the corner, whoops, and she picked up the pace as well! I am so proud of her for doing something that she doesn't like to do, and even though she didn't 100% enjoy it I hope she at least had some fun!
Right before the field, photo courtesy of Jess
Happy to see my people! Photo courtesy of Jess
I got tired as I made my way around the field and Mike and Greg cheered us on some more. Soon I was making my way around the final tree, I saw Susan (a volunteer) and she cheered me on. I could hear Eric cheering me on and then I crossed the finish line of my second-ever trail race!
Mike at the finish, photos courtesy of Alex Tong
Pure finish line happiness! Photos courtesy of Alex Tong
Mike finished the race in 52:26 and came in 7th overall and 5th for men and I finished in 58:16 and came in 17th overall and 7th for women.
Some of us after the race, photo courtesy of Alex Tong
Love my friend! Photo courtesy of Crystal
Old and new friend, photo courtesy of Crystal
We waited for everyone else to finish, Crystal and Joe did amazing and really enjoyed themselves! We cheered on our friends that were running the 10 mile and 15 mile races, and then we went to change for our second race of the day!
I cannot even begin to describe how happy this race made me feel. Everyone that was cheering me on during their own races, while they were volunteering and at the finish line made me so happy. I cheered on our friends, some that we haven't known that long but feels like we have known them longer and others we have known for awhile.
I was so happy that we could introduce Crystal and Joe, two friends that are more like family, to our #trailsroc family. Seeing my friends coming together and getting along was the icing on the cake to a wonderful race!
Stay tuned to see how the second race of the day went!