Shut-In

Since I’ve been so bad at reporting back lately, I’ll write something quick while I can instead of waiting months… (uh, Leadville!)

One of my favorite races of the year is the Shut-In Ridge Trail Run, over in Asheville. It has quite the cult following, with the starting line crammed full of local, regional, and even some national hotshots. It sells out quickly and I was lucky to snag an entry again this year.


Autumn colors were at their peak, the skies blue and sunshine abundant, with small patches of snow greeting me in the Mt. Pisgah parking lot as a friend and I dropped a car by the finish early. While it was probably in the upper 30s to 40 at the start of the race (at the Arboretum), we warmed up quickly and I shed my long sleeves at the 2nd aid station. (I was wearing our new team shirt from Icebreaker, which was the perfect weight. And while I’m at it, my shoes were Vasque Velocity – definitely my current fav, although I’m itching to test their VSTs.)
I started off too quick as always, but that tends to be my MO. I knew after a mile or two I’d settle into my pace and all would be good for the next few hours. With this new heart thing going on, I’m trying to be more aware of my heart rate so that I can actually make it to the finish line. (although my tight achilles was worrying more race morning!) It took longer than I anticipated to settle in, due in part to the nice climbs that greet us from the start – afterall, the race is basically uphill! Most of the time we run along the ridge, following the Blue Ridge Parkway. Crossing it usually meant a steep downhill and uphill; otherwise it was a nice rolling ascent. The colors were stunning – sometimes you’d just be glowing from the sunlight filtering through the leaves. 
I was feeling great and running strong… amazing what a bit of frustration can do to power you up the mountain. I did see 2 girls on a switchback that made me nervous, but I dug in a bit deeper and never saw them again. All too soon, the final 2 miles were upon us – this is the epic section that goes (almost) straight up & is nearly unrunnable. (I’d love to see the leaders tear this up!) I had a girl on my heels most of this time and she didn’t want to pass…. but eventually did and unfortunately I never saw her again. I kept a good forward momentum, but my hammies & quads were quivering – I was really noticing my lack of hill work here. Once at the top, we had a short downhill that had my calves all but giving out on me. Finally the finish line cheers greeted me – yeah! 
My final time – for the 17.8 brutal miles with about 3000+’ of elevation gain* – was 3:41, 17 minutes faster than last year! This was good enough for 15th female and 97th overall (out of 195 finishers). The awesome stained glass awards were still out of reach though…  so my quest for a top 7 finish will continue next year hopefully :)
Big thanks to Lorrin & Jay for providing impromptu support (I left my gels in my car!) and cheering loudly along the way. 
* I need to confirm this, as my watch said 5000′… I’ve seen a few different references online.


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