The day before the race, I received an ominous email from the organizers:
...The course has been completely marked. Every inch has been covered on foot so it is ALL passable. However...
- Little Fishing Creek has exceeded its banks and caused substantial flooding.
- There are currently roughly five creek areas that are underwater.
- At the deepest it is currently waist deep.
Waist-deep water, yo. Okay!
And then, a bit of hope:
- The water is dropping rapidly (about 4-6 inches an hour) so how it looks now is not how it will look tomorrow.
We left right after work on Friday and arrived at Medoc State Park in about 90 minutes, binge-listening to Serial on the way. We picked up our great race swag (hoodies) and grabbed first, second, and third helpings from a huge pasta dinner. I am shyer than I'd like to be in these situations and couldn't muster the energy to initiate a conversation with anyone, but it was nice to be among other runners, eating heaping plates of pasta before getting in sleeping bags to rest up before a trail race. It was a lot of my favorite things, all crammed into about 12 hours.
Bonus: Everyone seemed pretty confident that the water would go down by the morning.
We set up camp, accepted the s'mores offered to us by generous strangers, and sat by the fire for a little bit to check out the scene. Medoc State Park offers some seriously luxurious camping. There were real bathrooms, hot water, a shower (!!) and lots of pre-chopped, pre-stacked firewood.
The morning was super easy. We left our tent up and wandered over to the marathon start just in time to see the runners take off.
The 10-mile start was much more crowded and I waffled a bit about where to line up. As usual, I tried to guess where I fit in based on the outfits of people around me (somewhere between the people wearing gaiters and the people wearing cotton.)
At the start we made friends with a couple who was running near us. James and the other guy broke away from us early on. I got ahead of the woman on a steep uphill, only to be passed back about two miles later. (I played cat-and-mouse with her until the end.)
The route is a quick out-and-back on paved roads, followed by an 8.5 mile loop. It was taking me a while to warm up, but the day was perfect and I was pretty determined to break my Little River time of 1:49 and stay upright. The first five miles flew by; I was working hard and passing and getting passed. I wanted to catch James. For a while he was about 45 seconds ahead of me, but the gap between us widened until he disappeared from view.
I used to feel uncomfortable passing on single-track, but I was passing like a champ. I passed to drop, and if I didn't think I could drop the person I just stayed behind them and watch their feet. That meant I was getting pulled along quite a bit, which helped so much. The psychological elements of trail running seem entirely different from road racing.
Anyway, mile 6 came and I was starting to be ready for the finish. The water was really completely gone: a few slippery bridges, some mud, but nothing crazy and definitely not even in the universe of Mountains-to-Sea in the rain.
Even thought I was thinking about the end, I still had some great energy left and was thrilled that the leg that was giving me grief for a few weeks felt pretty normal. I thought I might catch James toward the end and rejoiced when I saw a green-shirted, Jameslike apparition. Even after I realized my mistake, I tried to marshall what energy remained to book it toward the finish, but I was spent. "Finish???" I gasped at some poor volunteer who pointed to the obvious arrow sign nearby. I was beating my goal, I was done.
My final time was 1:37 something, good enough for third in my age group. I won a pint glass! I was also, I think, one of the slowest age-group winners in any category. I'm happy with my time and VERY happy I got in a good long workout two weeks out from race day. If I don't completely bonk at City of Oaks, Medoc gets the credit.
Before the race I wondered what the big deal is about Medoc -- it usually sells out within an hour from when it opens. After running it, I get why people come back year after year (#1 question the course: "How many Medocs have you done?" followed by "Oh!!! GREAT!" when I said I was a first-timer.) A small, local race put on by runners, Medoc was really seriously chill without slacking in the professionalism department. It was perfect weather with fun, runnable-but-challenging trails and awesome aid stations (Clif gels and real food!) And getting to camp was a total best-case race-weekend scenario. We'll definitely be back.