Flat spots to downhills and back up again, the trail was all over the place and everyone was clamping down and hoping their shoes would stick and they would stay upright. In 3 instances people ate the dust right in front of me, occasionally rolling off trail, but always immediately getting up as if they hoped no one had seen their misstep. On a few of the downhill spots, you ended up "glissading" more than running. As we reached the "high point" of the run at 8,005 feet a trail volunteer falsely cheered on that "the rest is downhill"! This got me excited and I started to let myself go a little more, thrilled in the challenge of accurate foot dabbing and making split second decisions if I could sneak by the person sucking air in front of me. Heavy breathing seemed to be the tune of the race, which I definitely didn't avoid chiming in on. After a while of cruising down and feeling great, I glanced up and saw bodies bobbing uphill again. Sandbagged!! I put my head down and grimaced up again, not even close to continuing up with my downhill pace. I locked my eyes into the back of someone's Brooks trail shoes and made sure I didn't lose ground. As this hill plateaued and the downhill came again, I used the opportunity to have some more fun cruising down. It was kind of a rush!! After hoping that maybe we were going to stick to some flatter ground the trail started to curve up again. I don't even remember how many more times this happened, but each time I felt I started to get a little slower and slower on the inclines with my tired legs burning. Many times I had to switch over to speed walking, which I've decided makes me faster at this point in my running. After a burner hill we finally hit another downhill and I could tell that this was the last stretch. I knew I had it in my to go for it. My stride lengthened and my legs were moving faster than I could ever make them go on my own, running loose so as to roll off any bumps. Had I needed to stop abruptly, I would have eaten dirt and rolled for sure. I tried to pass a few more people, but there was one girl in front of me that had the same idea. As the finish line approached I pushed and finally crossed the blue mats and flagged arch. Woo! I had finished the race, which had been goal one. Goal number 2 was to finish in less than one hour, and glancing at my watch, reading 48 minutes, I realized I was successful! I was so happy to be done, guzzled some gatorade and realized this was only 1/3 of a half marathon. Yikes. I have some work to do! I went to the massage table and put my name down for a 5 minute teaser massage and gave Tommy a hug.
I glanced through Tommy's photos and saw a photo of a tiny young girl I had seen at the starting line. Tommy said she finished near the top! I went over to tell her awesome job. This little 11 year old girl (who had never run a trail race before besides at "camp") was the first woman to complete the course today at 41:12 (the women's course record from 2006 is 38:20!! How rad!!! Kudos to her and my friend, Alex Wieser, who took second in our age division (20-29 yrs) and all other finishers! What a fun Estes race!