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Ouachita Trail 50 Mile

On April 22 I made an effort to run the Ouachita Trail 50 Mile run. I had driven up with 3 other runners and was even able to see Grant and Amy English and their family the night before. Grant was an intern at Legacy before landing in West Little Rock. The Start/Finish of the run was less than 15 minutes from the Grace Church parking lot where Grant serves on staff.

I had not trained hard for the 50 miler, but I felt I was rested and strong enough to take a second run at the Ouachita National Forrest trails. I had heard the course was rugged, but I had no idea how rugged until I had begun the run.

Here's a picture of the approach to Pinnacle Mountain. That's the peak in front of us. Also, this is about 3 miles into the run.

As we approached the "mountain," I found myself climbing the face of a boulder field. I definitely was not trained for this...Still only 6 or 7 miles from the start!

But, like with every hard climb there is a beautiful sunrise to view from the top.

(Thanks to Lynn Ballard for the pictures.)

The descent on the other side of the "mountain" was almost as rugged, and needless to say, I was pretty deep into my energy reserves after that climb, and I still had 40 miles to go!

I reached the Northshore check point with 30 minutes from the cutoff and began the trek to the turnaround. The terrain was flatter on this side of the trail, but there were many rises and streams that slowed down a steady pace. I stayed with Deborah Sexton on this leg of the run. She was training for the Western States Endurance Run at the end of June. She and I got to talking and soon found ourselves at the turnaround with only one minute before the cut off. That meant we had to make it back to Northshore with a negative split plus another one to make the 13-hour cutoff at the finish.

I could feel the time and my energy slipping away, and I arrived at Northshore 7 minutes after the cutoff. I was finished with this run. The good news? I still felt I had enough in me to finish. The bad news? I have not finished either of my two starts in Arkansas. Other NTTR runners had good finishes, and I was proud to be associated with them.

We climbed into the car and made it back to Plano by 11:00 p.m., and I was able to see Storey and Graham, who had come in town that weekend for a wedding shower.

Lessons learned: If the race course calls for hills and climbs, TRAIN for hills and climbs. Also, I wrote in my journal after the run: Run your own race. I got tangled up in the pace of another runner and did not pay attention to my own race. I don't know if I had done any better, but I will never know. Next time, I will run my race and see how that goes.