1st 10k trail run – Cliffrunner 10k race weekend recap!

Last summer I did my first ever trail run – a 5k just a few miles from home that ended by running up the tubing hill.  This year it was time to up the ante!  The Cliffrunner 10 trail run down at High Cliff State Park was the chosen target. Before this weekend, I had never even set foot in this park and my only views of this park were in pictures that I found online!  I had heard about the massive hill along the trails and I knew that this was going to be a tough course!

The first of our weekend adventures!

Saturday morning, after a tough 8am circuit workout at Fitness Renegades, Darci and I met up with Robin and we headed to the campground!  Some awesome friends of mine offered up their camper to me for the weekend so that we would not have to drive all the way from Green Bay on Sunday morning.  Just us girls, enjoying a quiet day/night at the camper!

Our day was not a quiet and relaxing as we originally thought it was going to be!  On Friday, we saw a post of Facebook from the race crew that they were planning a walk thru on Saturday evening to mark the trail and anyone who wanted to join them, could get a sneak peak at the course!  Since none of us had never even been to the park before, we figured it was a good idea!  Once we got settled in to the camper, we started our campfire, cooked some lunch and soon found ourselves mesmerized by the flames. Darci ended up having words with Alvin, the resident chipmunk that has created his home in the woodpile at the camper!   Apparently he was mad at us for tearing down his home to keep our fire going.  If looks could kill, Darci would probably not be here anymore!  However, instead of sitting around the campfire and just chilling all evening, we headed out to High Cliff for a nice hike before dinner!

After a few wrong turns, we found Patrick and Rob in the park.  Patrick was heading out to take care of a few last minute race details so we would be heading out on the trail with Rob.  We took off the from parking lot a little after 5 and headed out onto the course.  Right away, we knew that we were in for a tough course – the course wasted no time in throwing a challenging, long steep hill at us!

Once we hit the top of the hill and got onto the actual trail, we knew it was not going to just be an easy walk through!  Rob asked if we were up for a little running, and of course were were all “oh yeah sure!”…  that was the end of the easy walk through the course.  We spent the next hour and a half doing a walk/run through the course.  Most of the walking was UP the huge hills.  At one point Rob commented that he wanted to make sure to took it easy tonight… He wanted us to have fresh legs for tomorrow.  Less that a minute after he made this comment, he asked if we were ready to run.  So much for taking it easy! (JUST KIDDING ROB!)  We had a great time and when we finished, we felt confidant about our adventures for the morning. (thanks to Robin for the pics from Saturday night!)

By the time we got back to the campground it was after 7:30 and we were starving… but of course we had to get the fire going again so that we could actually cook our dinner!  Thankfully, Darcy knows how to start a HOT fire and a little paper added to the still warm embers and we had a roaring fire before long!  It was after 8 by the time we sat down to eat and we literally inhaled our dinner!  During dinner, we thought we spotted Alvin running through the campsite, but quickly discovered that it was actually Theodore… Alvin must have sent him in as the decoy because at about the same time, we heard Alvin and Simon running around behind us near the fire.  Sneaky little chipmunks!  By the time we got everything cleaned up from dinner, made sure Alvin and crew were not causing any more trouble, and sat down to relax by the fire, we realized that we were all exhausted!  I think we were all in bed before 10pm!

Team Renegade at the Start line!

Next think I knew, it was 7am and the alarm was going off!  Time to get the fire started to make breakfast before we headed out!  I know that my sweet potato hash only takes about 15 minutes to cook over the stove, but this morning I was cooking it over the fire!  Before long we had bacon, potatoes, mushrooms and spinach sizzling away, just waiting for the eggs to be added!  The perfect pre-race fuel for the tough course that we knew was ahead of us!  Over breakfast, Darci and Robin told me that Alvin and one of the other boys spent part of the early morning up on the camper room running around and voicing their disapproval that we were still there.  We were not going to let a few pesky chipmunks run us out of camp.  They were going to need to learn how to share.  I tried to get a photo of Alvin when he was having a staring contest with us, but he was a little to quick for me.

We were back at the park by a little after 9 and met up with Jay, relaxed a bit, grabbed a few photos, did a little stretching before long it was race time!  We tackled that first hill with vengeance and hit the trail hard.  Robin and Jay headed off ahead of us in the crowd and Darci and I kept strong together for the first 2 miles.  It was about this point, after we headed down the first big hill that Darci started getting further ahead of me.  After a bit I caught up to her, but lost her again on one of the long straight stretches.  When I made the climb up bear crawl hill (yes our name for the killer hill in the middle of the course) and climbed the stairs on the final decent, I found her waiting for me!  YAY!  I grabbed a cup of water, but instead of drinking it, I dumped it straight over me head!  The heat and humidity were quickly climbing and I was getting really warm.  I still had some Nuun left in my hydration belt so I knew I was good there!  I didn’t waste any time and we were on out way again.

Before long I lost Darci again!  That girls legs don’t quit when she gets out there on the course!  I found a few other ladies that I fell into pace with and we worked out way through the last few miles of the course together.  Once we made it back to the water station for the 3rd time (one water station, which we passed 3 times over the course of the 6+ miles) we knew that we were just over a mile from the finish… at it was virtually all downhill from there!

The four of us set a goal of under 1:30:00 for this tough course.  I knew that when I got my last update on my phone at the 5 mile marker I was on track to do that!  I was going to make sure that it happened!  That last downhill stretch was fast and before long I hit the bottom of the hill and the last turn.  I was on the home stretch!  I didn’t even see the timing clock as I was approaching the finish line.  I was just focused on getting there!

I was done!  I was hot, I was exhausted but I finished!!!

Team Renegade celebrating an awesome finish!

This was definitely the toughest run I have EVER done, but by far one of the most rewarding! The course was a huge challenge but also very beautiful and peaceful to run through!  A huge shout out to the crew that puts this race together.  This year was only the second running of this tough course and you can be sure that I will be back again net year!  It’s only going to get better!  If you ever have a chance to get out and run this course (of the Half Marathon that this same crew puts on in the fall) do it!  You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks Rob and Patrick for an awesome race!

 Next on the race calendar – Packers Training Camp 5k next weekend!

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