I ran it with my good running friend Shelli Lisenby Clemo. Actually, the story of how I came to run in this particular event is to the credit of Shelli alone. She had a friend who had registered to run with her but then experienced a scheduling conflict. Knowing how much I love to run up that way Shelli asked if I would like to take over the vacancy. The race directors approved and viola! I found myself happily jogging along that spectacular stretch of trail in some of the prettiest wilderness this country knows, next to Shelli and her cousin Wendy. But I digress...
The route started at Carmen reservoir and then climbed up the waterfall trail for about a mile. We ran past Koosah Falls and then Sahalie Falls before crossing the river feed and descending along the same falls. There was snow on the ground but not nearly as much as we had seen on our preview run two weeks earlier. We laughed and joked and had great conversation along the way.
The first aid station was back at Carmen and we snacked up. I left my jacket (already warm) and we continued on. This section is relatively flat but still with some technical roots and rocks here and there, not nearly as technical as the first stretch along the falls. Still, around Tomolich (or Blue Pool) the lava is so staggering that running a consistent pace is virtually impossible. By the time we reached the next aid station, Wendy decided she wanted to take a little more time along the route so Shelli and I pressed on. We were bid adieu and good luck by aid station volunteer Ron Stone, another running friend who supported me last year on the MRTR during several training runs. Congrats were given to Ron who had lotteried in for the MRTR this year.
The stretch after Trailbridge seemed pretty hot to me and I found myself calculating distances in my wandering thoughts. I also found myself walking intervals more frequently than I had in quite some time. I knew I was having iron issues in my blood counts but I pressed on. By the time we reached the next aid station, I suggested that Shelli continue on without me. By Buckbridge, I joked that I would not finish, but of course I would. I was being dramatic with the aid station volunteer and we joked about my over-the-top exhaustion. He asked if I wanted to get swept to which I replied, "How long is the wait?" And then off I went.
Meandering through the flat section before Belknap, I recalled my condition during the MRTR the previous summer. I was so grateful that I was not feeling nearly that fatigued and so I knew that I would finish and still feel pretty good after crossing in. During the MRTR, this particular portion of the trail had my eyes crossed and my breathing labored, but during the Hot Springs, I felt great coming into the finish. There are a few things that I attribute to this: 1) the distance was better suited for me at 30K rather than 50K, 2) the heat factor was not quite as hot as it had been the prior September, and 3) I had more confidence and more experience on trails than the year before. All of these factors paid off in a strong finish and an easy recovery.
So, that's my Hot Springs run. Will I do it next year? Yes, I certainly will.
Shelli, Wendy, Rhonda at the start of the Hot Spring Trail Run
Wendy, Rhonda, Shelli somewhere in the middle of the run (still having fun!)