My Medoc PR

Back in 2012 I ran the Medoc Trail Marathon and I loved it so much.  The hilarious and awesome race directors have kept me on their email list and this was the year for me to do a repeat.  And best of all, Ron signed up for the 10 miler!  I was so excited that he was coming with me to experience first hand how much fun this race really is.

We actually signed up for their 1st annual Twilight 5k and went up to Hollister, NC on Friday night.  It’s only 1.5 hour drive from Clayton straight up I95.  The race started at 6:00 and didn’t end up getting dark until just as we were finishing the 5k.  We had our headlamps with us but we didn’t really need them on the trail.

Here Ron is rocking his Twilight 5k shirt and his 10 miler medal.  You can’t really tell in this shot but the shirt has hints of purple in it.  The ladies version has a V-neck and is a little longer in the back.  So unbelievably AWESOME!

IMG_1878

After the 5k we dined under the shelter on some delicious spaghetti, salad, and desserts.  We were  both really hungry and went back for seconds.  By the time dinner was over it was very dark so we drove over to the group camp area and set up our “camp.”  We camped in our van!  Our van has stow and go seating and we’ve always wanted to see if we could camp in it.

Our queen sized air mattress was just a little bit too wide but it seemed to work okay when we tested it.  We were wrong.  We ended up rolling towards the middle and Ron and I were literally human hotdogs!  It was very cold.  Somewhere around 40 degrees.  I slept in my Hinson hoodie with the hood up to stay warm.  Below is a shot of our van and me in modeling my hoodie once we got home.

IMG_1876  IMG_1875

The bad part was we had gone to bed around 8:00pm and didn’t get up until around 7:00 am Saturday morning.  We rolled around and slept cuddled up on and off for 11 straight hours!  Just when we’d get warm and cozy, I’d get a hot flash (boo menopause) and then I’d have to pull away and kick off all our covers.  It was a VERY long night.  I think we slept more than we realized though because neither of us were tired at all.   That was a good thing!

The marathon and the 10 miler were so fun!  I didn’t remember how technical this race really is.  You cannot take your eyes off the trail.  It is filled with Roots, Rocks, and Hills.  Notice the words on the hat we got for “doing the double.” (the 5k and the race the next day)  We also got the cute shot glass.  Medoc swag is the very best!

20151017_205512_resized

The marathon is a 3 loop course.  I completed the 1st loop in 1 hour and 54 minutes.  The second loop took me 2 hours and 14 minutes.  The 3rd loop took me 2 hours and 12 minutes.  That brought me in at 6:20!  (18 minutes faster than back in 2012 woot woot!)

Check out this image of the elevation I found on Google images:

elevation

I ran most of the 1st loop with Carley from Coral Springs.  She’s 15 years old and is totally amazing.  This was  her 2nd Medoc and last year she earned the record for the youngest to complete Medoc!  She’s a triathlete and is on her school’s cross country team.  Her mom and brother ran the 10 miler today and her dad ran the marathon.   I loved listening to all her stories and her cheerful attitude.  She was faster than me and she ended up pulling away and I didn’t see her again until the middle of the 3rd loop.

I ran with Heather at the end of the 2nd loop and almost all of the 3rd loop.  She remembered me from 2012.  This was her 5th Medoc!  When I came upon Heather I had been alone for a while and I was getting so discouraged.  Heather cheered me up and gave me the inspiration to keep going.  She told me about how this verse from Hebrews came to here this week just when she needed it.  Little did Heather know that I needed to hear this so much today!

2d4ba0d5a1e348cd2b88e45cbb73f10d source

I had a goal of 6 hours and after that 2nd loop I knew that I wasn’t going to make it.  I was getting so sad.  Well after I ran with Heather for a while I was a new woman.  Each mile marker I would see I was like Party On!  I was so enthusiastic.

Before long we hooked back up with Carley.  Heather knew Carley from last year.  All 3 of us were doing so amazingly well on our last loop!  Here’s a picture of Heather  and me at the finish.

12029809_10153042820420388_3426478095827567078_o (1)

Then, right near the very end, I ran into Jordan.  Jordan is my friend that I met when I volunteered at City of Oaks.  We see each other every now and then at races and fun runs around Raleigh.  Jordan had fallen 2 times and was having a rough time finishing.  Well, I decided to run it in with her and was so happy to be able to offer support to my good friend.  Here we are at the finish.

12088554_950892432254_7137922976022355949_n (thanks for the photo Jordan!)

Ron and I loved Medoc so much.  Check out the marathon shirt and the finishers surprise.

IMG_1881 IMG_1885 20151017_205433_resized

I adore the shirt.  It is a V-neck too and has that longer back to it like biking shirts.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  The finisher’s surprise this year was a zippered pull-over.  LOVE!

Here’s the amazing medal.  It is the best ever!  I love the bridge on the back and the beautiful fall colors.

IMG_1892IMG_1894

I guess I should give you a few more running details before signing out.  I chose to run without my Garmin or my Fuel Belt. With all the trees in Medoc, we were warned that our Garmin might not be very accurate.  I remembered from 2012 how much my fuel belt bothered me so this time I didn’t even try to wear it.  3 weeks ago at Hinson, I drank a cup of water or Gatorade every 1.5 miles.  So this time, I drank one cup of water AND one cup of Gatorade at each aid station.  The stations were approx. 3.2 miles apart.  It worked out great and I never got thirsty.  I ate 3 Honey Stingers.  One on each loop.  I also had 2 cookies and a few M&Ms and one cup of Pepsi.  I think I fueled the best in the race of any race I’ve ever run.

Don’t be afraid of the roots, rocks, and hills.  Give Medoc a try.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

Happy Trails!

Medoc Mountain Trail Marathon

Even though I’ve been running and racing for over 2 years, Medoc had me pretty scared.  And I’m not talking about the Medoc legend.  I’m talking about how scared I was just thinking about THOSE HILLS and that awesome trail!  I had run one loop of the 3 loop course two years ago and I knew what I was getting myself into.

I don’t have any pictures of the trails (my stupid phone died again) so please please please, go to their website and look at their pictures.  To fully appreciate this race recap you must look at the trail.

The day before the race I had my usual pizza for lunch.  For dinner I had two more slices of pizza, an egg, half an avocado and some watermelon.  Most people swear by spaghetti but my favorite way to carb load is plain ole’ cheese pizza.

104_5830104_5840

Then it was time to get all my stuff together for the race.

104_5843

Oh, the best laid plans.  More details about my choices later.

I got to Medoc plenty early and the very nice race volunteers gave me my bib and race swag bag.  My number was 201 and since I didn’t have a trail name, I let them choose one for me.  CLAYTON COPPERHEAD!

104_5861

Now this trail name would be very fitting if I were a red head like my big brother and my 2 big sisters.  But not me.  I’m a black snake.  But Clayton Black Snake?  nahh.  Clayton Copperhead.  I’ll keep it.  In honor of my siblings.

Then only problem with my number was that earlier the race directors had posted on their FB page that they wanted us to line up in race number order.  Smaller numbers in the front and larger numbers in the back.  They said that they gave us our numbers in a prediction of how we’d finish. (I think we must have included our 5k time or our marathon time in our registrations.)  No problem there.  I know to let the elite runners line up first.  I know to line up in the back.  The only problem was that there were only 200 participants in this year’s marathon.  (A few must have been no shows)  Number 201 on my bib was messing with my head BIG TIME!

The race shirt was in my bag and it was AWESOME.  There were also many flyers for upcoming trail races, a Medoc man sticker, a Honey Stinger waffle, and a few other items.  Honey Stinger was a sponsor of the race.  I had tried the waffles before but not the strawberry one.  The waffle flavor I tried was vanilla and it was delicious and felt very good on my stomach.  Since I hadn’t tried strawberry, I opted to not take that one with me out on the course.  I know the hard rule of “nothing new on race day.”  I had my Hammer Gels anyway.

104_5862

The weather for the race was nothing short of BRILLIANT.  It was a bit chilly at first at 47 degrees but I knew it would warm up nicely.  I’ve run in all kinds of weather, and when you luck out and get a perfect day, you know your are very, very blessed!

IMAG0920

Here are a few shots I snapped before the race and before my phone died.

IMAG0921                 IMAG0922

You just have to visit their site and read the legend of Medoc Man.  The entire race website is the funniest one I’ve ever seen.  Those directors had me in stitches for weeks before the race with their hilarious newsletters.

IMAG0923

And here’s one of me that a nice fellow runner snapped.

in front of sign

Before the race I met a runner named Ben.  He was 65 years old and has been running marathons for over 6 years.  Medoc was his 4th marathon this year and he’s even doing The City of Oaks next month like I am.  What was so amazing about Ben was that when we got to talking, I told him about Mt. Zion doing a small group to get ready for the Myrtle Beach Half.  He just laughed and smiled and told me that Myrtle Beach was one of his first marathons and during that race, a car broke through a barrier and hit him.  A CAR HIT HIM!  What!?  Yes, he survived but had to have extensive shoulder surgeries.  Not long after his shoulder healed, he had to have back surgery.  Then he had a stroke!  But even with all of those obstacles, he never stopped training.  Ben was an inspiration!   I was too shy to ask him for a picture but maybe if I see him at the City of Oaks, I see if he’ll agree.

It wasn’t long and then we were off.  I’m glad that the directors started the race on time but they didn’t begin with the national anthem or a prayer.  They do this at the OBX and now any race that doesn’t,  really gets my goat.   Oh well, that is the ONLY negative you’ll hear out of me and Medoc.

I’ve been training all summer with Galloway so I decided that I’d run my intervals just like normal.  I set up 3’s and 1’s on Ron’s Garmin (mine’s being repaired) and even though I felt sorta silly walking only 3 minutes into the race, I kept at it.  I spotted plenty others right off the bat that were doing intervals too so I quickly relaxed and settled into a good rhythm.

I made the first loop in just under 2 hours and I was thrilled.  2 years ago when I ran that loop with my good friend, Lisa, we made it in 1:57.  I was in the best shape of my life then and to repeat that time, I was on top of the world.

There are a few challenges in the race and 2 of them are what I am calling ROCK HILL and LONG HILL. Rock Hill is a very steep hill made of rocks.  It’s short but straight up.  Long Hill doesn’t have any rocks but it is a slow steady climb for a very long time.  See the ecology of Medoc here.

When you get around to the end of the loop, the trail gets pretty narrow.  That’s around mile 7 and that’s about the time that the very fast runners start to lap us slower runners.  All during the end of that first loop, I had to move over as each runner would come by me and shout the “left” that was soon a very familiar sound to me.  I do have to admit that all of those fast runners were very kind.  They always said thank you as I moved over and they always shouted something encouraging to me as they passed.

I don’t know if “Shirtless” runner as I called him or if it was “Kilt” runner that actually won in the end.  The awards ceremony was long over when I came in.  But I do know those guys FLEW!

One part of the course you come upon a set of stairs.  I implore you.  You must go to Medoc if you live anywhere remotely close.  You must hike or run that trail just for the opportunity to stop at the bottom of those stairs and look straight up.  And when you are there, imagine having to climb them for the 3rd time after running about 20 miles.

Then not long after those stairs, you’ll come upon another set.  Our race directors put up 2 paper plates on trees that said, “DANGER, STAIRS.”  They were straight down!  Try going down those stairs (again for the 3rd time) after about 22  miles of running.  Inconceivable!

If anyone has a picture of those stairs, please link to them so everyone can see.  They really were unbelievably steep.

The 2nd loop for me was when I ran into trouble.  I had my phone in my fuel belt and since I don’t normally run with it, the extra weight was driving me nuts.  I ditched my fuel belt at the last aid station before beginning loop 3.  When I ditched it, I also ditched my Hammer Gel.  Uh oh!  My only choice was to take a Honey Stinger that they had at the next aid station.  Do not do this!  You mustn’t do anything new on race day.  Luckily the Honey Stinger felt fine and all was well in that area.  My last challenge was that my shirt was chafing me like crazy.  I always use Chamois Butter but I never have to put it under my arms.  This is the exact spot that this particular shirt was rubbing.  I’ve worn it lots of times with no problems but what I didn’t remember was that I’ve never worn it on a really long run.  What works well on a 5k might not at all work out well on a marathon.  The man at the aid station came to my rescue and gave me some Desitin.  That’s right, diaper rash cream.  I rubbed it all over my arms just where the sleeve ended and even though I looked ridiculous, I at least wasn’t in pain anymore.

After that, I was fuel belt free and pain free and my last loop was quite lovely.  I no longer had to share the trail with anyone.  In fact, I ran that loop almost entirely by myself.  When I got to the Danger Stairs sign, I almost kissed them.  I knew I was almost home.

I had made it.  It was 6 hours and 38 minutes officially and I earned my medal.  1 whole hour before the cut-off.  Woohoo!

kissing medal

Here’s a close up of the coolest race medal yet.

104_5852

And here it is in it’s place of honor on my medal hanger.

104_5853

(Note:  The 4 medals on that left are Ron’s.  I’ve got to get him his own medal hanger for Christmas.  Any suggestions on what to ask them to fashion for him?)

The finishers surprise was this awesome hand held hydration system.

104_5854

So cool that it has Medoc on the bottle!

104_5857

And this pocket for your gels or keys is perfect.  I’m really anxious to try it out.

I stopped as I was driving away and took this picture of the race field.  As you can see, most of the cars were gone but to the director’s surprise, I was not last after all.  I finished number 161 out of 171.  But you know what?  Where you finish doesn’t matter.  It really doesn’t even matter if you finish at all.  I forgot to tell you about another runner that I met along the way that had fallen on loop 2 and was walking back with what he described as shooting pains up his back with every step.  He’s a winner in my book too.  Something tells me he’ll go home and nurse his wounds and rest and heal.  Something tells me I’ll see him again next year.

104_5849

104_5848

After I got home and showered, I put on the coolest race shirt ever!  That’s my favorite thing in the world to do.  I can’t describe to you the sheer joy of a hot shower after a long run and then putting on a race shirt that you know you will love wearing until it is nothing but threads.

104_5860

Thank you Medoc.  Thank you for a great race.  Thank you for the best race experience out there!  I’ll be back and hopefully next year, I’ll make it back it time for more of the after race party.   I won’t be there with Shirtless, but I might make it back while there’s a few more cars in the field.