This past weekend I participated in the 10K Mountain Goat Invitational.
After a series of trail runs spanning from South Carolina to Tennessee, past Go Run Trail runners who had placed were invited to participate in this end of the series 6.2 mile event. I felt privileged to be included. Trail running is something I just started doing this year, and I have fallen head over heels in love with this sport.
Here are the recaps from the previous 2 I ran:
Because this race was a “thank you” to runners who had supported the series, registration was free. Though I have to admit, that one of the reasons that I love the Mountain Goat races is because of the price.
I talked with several runners this weekend who agreed, for a fraction of the cost of a half marathon or even a 5K, you get an amazing event. I love paying for a race that I would NEVER do otherwise. Had there been a registration fee, I still would have gone.
The event was held at Laurel Ridge in Laurel Springs, NC. A place I had never been before so I was excited to head up for a weekend in the mountains with my husband and my mom (this was the first time she’s been to one of my races).
Because it’s a small town and hotels are scarce, we ended up renting a great cabin for the weekend through Cabins On Laurel Creek (pictures below).
But more on that later…
I have got to share this race.
Climbing Mountains & Running Trails
That should have been the name of this event!
It was the coldest and hardest race of my life. Every trail race I do, I end it saying “No, THIS is the hardest yet!” And the same is true for this one.
Literally, there were already ice sickles along the course (Dan had some insider tips from the race directors on where to get some great pictures).
Mike, the race director is wonderful and I liked him right up to the moment that he proudly declared that this is one of the hardest 10K courses in the country! In fact, the National Cross Country race was held on the very same trail path we would be running.
Fabulous. Just fabulous.
Luckily I was able to stay some what calm by talking with all the other runners. It’s another reason I love this series, you end up seeing many of the same faces and everyone is so kind and welcoming. This doesn’t happen at road races where there are 1000s of runners.
The race started promptly at 9:30 and we all took off into the woods.
One of my favorite pictures Dan took. We were all smiles at the beginning.
Right from the start I knew I was in for a challenge. The first 1/2 mile was a steep downhill. Everyone was sliding, cutting back and forth and huffing and puffing right away. And we all thought the same thing…
This downhill meant there would be a crazy uphill.
I wouldn’t even call it an “uphill” there were two incredibly steep mountain climbs we were faced with. The first probably about a quarter of a mile long, the second over a half mile.
Dan wanted to document this insane climb for me to remember (how could I forget?)…
The trails were difficult to navigate since all the leaves had fallen. Those orange pieces of tape along with race signs were our tools to navigate since the actual trail was completely covered.
The inclines were so step at times I was doing bear crawls to climb up.
After the first, I honestly questioned what I was doing. I was the only “coastal” runner there and I had absolutely no trail training.
I thought about quitting, about giving up. But I reminded myself that we drove 5 hours for this race. My mom was there cheering me on, Dan was on the course taking pictures…
I couldn’t give up.
And I didn’t. I kept going. Even when my calves where screaming and my glutes wanted to tighten up so bad to stop me in my tracks.
I set mini goals… just make it to the next sign. Just get through this song (I ran with 1 earphone in).
Mini goal by mini goal I made it to the finish.
As I worked to get my breathing under control and I looked back at the run I had just completed I became extremely emotional. So blessed to be able to do this sport. And so humbled. To any road runner that thinks they’re half decent, get on the trails and find out just how good you really are.
The views were incredible, the other runners were extremely motivating and I fell in love with running all over again.
One of the views from the highest points
I think Dan might even try trail running! He keeps telling me how cool it looked and that it was so much better than road running (which he hates).
Mike was a little off though. Right before we started he asked me what my road 10K time was. When I mentioned it, he told me to double it. That would most likely be the time I would come in at.
Intimidation? Yup… but luckily it didn’t end up that way. I came in at 1.16. There are no PRs for trail running, just surviving! This 1 hour 16 min 10K was more rewarding than any sub 50 min 10K.
Scenes From Our Cabin
Like I said, we stayed at Cabins On Laurel Creek. It was small but perfect for a weekend get-away. It didn’t hurt that they were only 2 miles from the race (which I didn’t realize when I booked it).
Each cabin has 1 bedroom, a loft with a full size bed, a living room, kitchenette, and 1 bathroom. The heating was amazing, the small gas fire place was able to heat the whole cabin up in no time. It was amazing to walk outside with Zoe and then come into a nice warm cabin. Even the bathroom had a built in heater (best thing ever).
To be honest, one of the highlights of our trip was how much Zoe loved it. I’ve never seen her run and play as much as she did in the fresh mountain air. She was running around like a puppy, not like a 10 year old!
All in all our stay was great and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever looking for a mountain getaway.
I realized just how much I need actual trail shoes this weekend. I have New Balance Minimus, however for the high impact of the rocks, I need something with a bit more support and cushion (which is why I didn’t wear them for this race).
Do you have any suggestions for a good trail shoe?