Race To Finish – KT 50K
Well, the 2014 Kanawha Trace 50K is in the books! It was everything I anticipated plus more. I had so many thoughts leading up to the race and even more during.
This was my 4th running of the KT50 and the weather has always cooperated. This year was no exception! My running group consists of David Mullins, Nick Gue, Sonny Baily, Philip Dial and Jamie Blankenship… and every one of us were so thankful that God provided a great day to run. The race was held on August 9 and traditionally August is hot and humid which translates into a terrible day to run 31 miles.
No complaints here; God provided! I have always wondered if I could compete with the Kanawha Trace on a 94 degree high humidity day; thankfully I didn’t find out as the 80 degree day propelled us to the finish! Thank the Lord!
As I prepared for this ultra-trail run, there was only one goal in mind. The goal was TO FINISH. It’s always to finish. That being said, the icing on the cake would be finish and set a PR (personal record). One thing everyone should know is I am not an elite runner. My finish times are average. However, there is something about competing against yourself, pushing yourself and establishing a new PR. It is the one motivating factor the pushes me to move faster.
So right before the race began, we formed a prayer circle. We prayed for God’s protection. We prayed that He would guide our steps and provide a safe landing spot for each stride we took. I believe this prayer was the most important action we did for the race. It was more important than the bananas and the pringles that I ate during the run! 1 Corinthians 10:31
It didn’t take long to work up a sweat. We started drinking fluid early. My choice of hydration was a mix of Fruit Punch Gatorade, Coconut Water and Bottled Water. It served its purpose. I can thank David for the coconut water.
This 31 mile trek starts near Fraziers Bottom and ends at Camp Arrowhead in Ona. Along the way we encountered everything from rocks, roots, caves, bridges, tunnel, electric fence and many hills. We also ran near specially marked areas like Blackjack Schoolhouse, Hell’s Staircase, “Beware of Bulls” and Old Baldy Mountain. It is truly a wonderful site to take in. Wild Wonderful West Virginia!
Early on our group wanted to set a faster pace than we did last year and for the first 3 miles we were able to that to a tune of 13 min/mile pace. Remember, it’s a 31 mile course so we want to move fast but conserve enough energy in order to finish. Endurance and patience are key words in ultra-style running.
From mile 4 to mile 18 we averaged a 14:30 pace. Mile 18 is significant because that is the drop bag mile. We can recharge, take care of any blisters or change shoes and stuff our face with bananas, grapes and peanut butter. Thankfully we had lots of help at the aid stations.
So this is the perfect time to thank Terri, Tabitha, Tori, Lexi and Maddie. They were our support team and it would have been much tougher without their help. They hauled our supplies and met us at different aid stations throughout the race. Way to go girls!! Thank you.
Finally moving past mile 18, I would say it’s all downhill from there but actually that’s where most were. The second half seemed to be one switchback after another!
But you know we made it; we crossed that finish line some 8 hours after the start. The joy of seeing the finish line is so overwhelming. Plus seeing and hearing friends and family cheer you on to the finish!
I am not going to say this was easy. It wasn’t. However, we had a great time and made many memories along the way. I won’t forget Nick asking me on mile 19, “Could I overdose on potassium?” Haha! Well, you had to be there to enjoy that one.
But on a more serious moment; on mile 24 we approached a fellow runner who was dehydrated. Actually, he was very sick. He wasn’t alone so that was good. As Nick and I got closer we asked if everything was OK. Getting a nod we continued on. As we passed and started to separate, I had a thought to go back and pray for the runner. And I thought to myself; do you really want to backtrack?? No! But with each step forward the thought of prayer became stronger. I said, “Hey Nick!, (He was further ahead of me) will you go back and help me pray for the sick runner?” Without any hesitation Nick stops running and comes back to me. Together we walked back to the runner and his group. We asked if it was OK to pray for him. They said yes. It’s something I will never forget. We prayed.
Why? You may ask… well that’s exactly how real-life is. We are racing for real. It’s about helping others. It’s about praying. It’s about running our race. It’s about climbing hills. It’s about asking for help. It’s about finishing. And above all it’s about believing and trusting in God! We were able to do all of those things right there on the good ole Kanawha Trace. God was with us!
As much as I was relieved about crossing the finish line that day, I can’t help but to imagine the day we finish our real race. The race you and I are running right now… the race of life. I am dreaming of the day we cross the finish line in heaven. Just as I heard the cheers on that 50K day; I will hear even more on that glorious day when I meet God and His Son! Psalm 150:1-6
Guess what?…We will have friends and family waiting for us there too… cheering us on and welcoming us home!
Are you running your race? Will you set a new PR? I hope so.
Let’s run our race with endurance… Focusing on Jesus, THE CHAMPION of our Faith Run