Two years ago, almost this exact day, I ran (haha… funny) the Asheville Super by Spartan. It is the hardest thing I have ever done. The course was insane (ask anyone who ran it) and unforgiving. We climbed 3,000+ feet in elevation and it seemed like we climbed it all at once. I was on the course for 7 hours and was depleted in energy when I finished.
So of course I signed up to do it again this year.
We had rain for days. In fact, I think it rained 7 days prior to the race and my brother confirmed it did the same in North Carolina. He lives about two hours from Asheville so I drive there to stay with him. It poured off and on all day on Friday but the weather seemed promising. Spartan sent an email to say, “We’ve changed the course to keep you safe but we expect it to rain hard so come prepared to get wet and get muddy.”
The best news of the day was that the weather couldn’t have been better. It was beautiful. It wasn’t too hot even after the sun came out. The bag check guy was convinced it was going to rain by 11 am and that did worry me but I never felt a drop. However, the venue was muddy. And by muddy I mean sinking to your ankles in mud. No matter where you walked, mud. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wear my flip flops out of there this time.
Before the race started, I sat and chatted with a woman. We had a lovely time talking and discussing races. As it turns out, she came in first for her age group in the open division. I figured she would pass me and she did. I also met up with a friend from childhood. He was running late so we didn’t get much time to talk but he also crushed the course. Did I crush it? Yes and no.
I have been hiking hard hikes for the past two years. What a difference this has made. Just two weeks ago when I hiked up from South River Falls I pushed myself. I wanted to crush that elevation. In the gym, I have been on the treadmill with the incline jacked up and carrying heavy stuff. So this time, as we climbed the mountain, it was hard but I was able to keep going. Plus, we had relief at times. More switchbacks. We’d go down in elevation and then back up. At times, I’d stop, catch my breath, and keep going. Wherever I could, I would run. I really crushed the last half of the race… what about the first half?
I met a lovely woman right at the beginning of the race. We were going through water and she asked me to grab her hand. I thought I would be helping her through just this portion. She was very small and I think, scared of the water. I ended up assisting her for the first half of the race. I’m very torn about this because I am very happy to help people. We went through a ton of water and I was happy to help guide her. However, on the trail, it hurt me. I was exerting a ton of energy pulling her up hills and helping her not fall going down. Her shoes were not as good as mine and she kept slipping. I assisted her on walls and other obstacles. She could not offer me any assistance at all. Finally, I decided to go on ahead. I felt bad. I honestly did but I wanted to finish. As I think back to how quickly I did the last portion of the race, I’m quite sure I could have cut my time down by 1-1.5 hours. Regardless… I still finished faster than two years ago and that was my goal. People have praised me for helping the woman for as long as I did. They say I have a good heart and while that is probably true, I always want to feel like I did the course as quickly as I physically could. I don’t know if I’ll ever offer help for half a course again. Sometimes I would look back and others were pulling her up the mountain. It takes a lot out of you to continually pull and lift someone. I hope I don’t come across as callous or rude. I don’t want to because I offer help to people all the time and am happy to do so.
Taking all of that out of the equation, the course was fun. I enjoyed it. The water felt great and I loved that I could get up and down the mountain quickly. I was able to run when it was flat. My asthma did great except in one location. And… goodness is that course beautiful. There was a section with big bushes just covered in butterflies. COVERED! It was amazing.
Next up for me is the West Virginia Beast. Again, I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. I feel like changing it…. I think I’ll decide by the end of this week.