Christmas time was busy, so this race recap took nearly four weeks to be posted, sorry friends!
I ran the Naked Nick 25k back on December 15th, which seems like ages ago now. I had signed up on a whim (per usual) because I wanted to get more trail racing in before my 50k in May 2019 (I plan on doing the Dirty German, which I did the 25k of last year, race recap of that here).
Since it was a last minute decision, I spent the whole week leading up to the race thinking “should I just bow out?” The weather that week leading up to it was rainy, and the forecast for that day was rain as well.
Also, I still felt like I was not fully back in the swing of things after the Marine Corps Marathon (race recap here). Not to mention I hadn’t run trails in 6 months, and I was getting in to a 15.5 mile trail run?!
Another excuse I had was that my husband and I were at his work Christmas party the night before. Although I didn’t drink in preparation, we were out later than normal, and I wasn’t looking forward to an early morning wake up call.
Lastly on my “why did I sign up for this” complaint list: I thought the race was about 45 minutes from my house for the longest time — I don’t know why though, because it was closer to 90 minutes away. I was getting up early to run a race that I didn’t *really* feel like doing.
But what do we crazy runners do? Run anyway!
Driving out there on that Saturday morning was one of the worst parts, to be honest. It was rainy and SUPER foggy, especially out in the middle-of-nowhere PA. I was getting concerned that the race would be too foggy to run! But once the sun came up (behind the clouds), it was fine.
I finally got to Blue Marsh Lake and found the starting area. It was a nice pavillion right by a huge, gorgeous lake. The day was cloudy and drizzly, but the lake still looked gorgeous. I was surprised by how many people were already there. I found a parking spot and had to trek up a huge hill to get to the starting area. I pinned on my bib and waited in the port-o-potty line.
I saw a ton of people dressed in Christmas-themed gear. It was great to see the Christmas spirit at the starting line! The “Pope” even made an appearance (I was even chasing him for a while, hah! ) We all waited under the pavillion for the race to officially start, since it was still spitting rain. I warmed up a little bit, but since it was crowded I didn’t get to stretch out too much. I figured I’d take it easy anyway, and a huge warm up wouldn’t be necessary.
After a few words from the race director, we passed the start line down a huge steep hill through the grass to find the trails. It got backed up immediately due to a mud patch. I look back on that little patch now and laugh a little. It would get wayyy worse for you, Ally!
They warned on the race website that the rain and trails would potentially make it a very cold day, so I bundled up! Before the race start, I was glad for it. Once the race got going — not so much. The rain had stopped pretty much around the time we started the race, so there was nothing to cool us off. By mile 3 I was already taking off a layer.
Then the mud just kept getting worse and worse. Although it was no longer raining that day, the days before had made the trails very muddy. I was taking it slow, but there were times I almost fell from slipping in all the mud. It felt more like a “mud run” than a trail race at times.
We were also getting to some really hilly sections! I looked up the elevation profile and it didn’t seem *too* bad, but I hadn’t done hill training in months, so it was not easy. At every hill, I thought “this must be the last one” and I was wrong most of the time 🙂 Some sections seemed like they were going up for a full mile or more! I, along with most of the people around me, stuck to power-hiking up the hills. Between the steepness, mud, and heat, it was not worth running for. I was attempting to keep my HR low for the whole run, but this course was harder than the last trail race I did, and I was not well-trained for it.
For the first 5-6 miles of the race, I felt like I was just ticking off the miles and waiting for it to be over. As I said, going in to it I didn’t have the best mindset. That was my biggest regret. At every hill I wanted to quit. I asked myself why I was out there. Finally I thought “I’m out here because it’s a beautiful day to run and enjoy nature, why not make the best of it?” and finally my mood improved and my energy bounced back!
I hit an aid station and chatted with a few folks. They convinced me to have some delicious sausage and veggie soup. I had soup, plus some potatoes fried with bacon, and a Thunderbird bar that I had brought. They had another great spread like my last trail race – candy, sandwiches, bacon, gatorade, and more. I left the aid station in better
spirits. Miraculously around that time, there was a huge downhill and flat section. I was smiling every mile.
It was just such a big difference since the marathon I had done just two months before. That was a big goal race for me – I needed the perfect day and great times to have a good race. Once I settled on the mindset that I was in the woods for a fun experience, I was happy and even running better! I was hard on myself at first, but I had to remember to remove my ego. I was in no rush to finish, I was there simply to have a great day.
The biggest difference between this race and my last trail race was being alone. During the Dirty German, I stuck with four great women from the Burlington Running Club who kept it fun and engaging. We took breaks together, and pushed each other to finish our first trail race. This time it was different – I had headphones in and a lot of people weren’t chatty. I was trying to encourage people with “good jobs” and other shout outs, but people seemed quiet. By the end of the race it got a little better, but it seemed serious and somber at first.
Finally we got back to place on the trail we had been before –we were taking the same route back as we took out, so I knew about how much time we had left. I started passing a lot of people – I was feeling very strong, and proud of that. I also saw all the folks going back out for the 50k and was so thankful that I was nearly finished, that I think that gave me an extra boost 🙂
Finally I heard Christmas music blaring and saw the finish line. I had to trek up that huge steep hill we ran down at the beginning, but I finally crossed in 3:31. This race series is called “Naked” because of the no-swag rules, but we ended up getting a mug at the finish line, I was grateful.
The finish area had more food than the aid stations. I sat down at a picnic bench with more soup and chatted with some other finishers before stretching out and heading back to the car. So once again, Uberendurancesports put on another great race with amazing support at aid stations. After a little mindset switch, I ended up having a great day and feeling very accomplished. I am thinking I may do this race again, or another one at Blue Marsh Lake sometime! They were great trails and I’d love to go back when it’s less muddy some day 🙂