The textbook definition of psycho is short for “psychopath,” and is defined as: one who has a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy & remorse, & disinhibited or bold behavior (Wiki dictionary). Psycho as used in this blog has the more vague definition of “crazy” as in the “disinhibited or bold behavior,” insane, or just plain “nuts,” in a “why would you want to do that” sense. At any rate, this is my experience with my second but long(ish) trail run called the “Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run” winter trail race put on by Ben Holmes & the Trail Nerds. It was held on Saturday, February 20 this year.
I’m assuming the “psycho” in the race name is more referring to the course itself more than the people who run it, or maybe a little of both. The “Wyco” is short for Wyandotte County, as it takes place at Wyandotte County Lake Park Bridle Trails. I’m guessing the “toto” is referring to the cute little dog in the Wizard of Oz since it is in Kansas. But sometimes I guess & assume amiss. At any rate, it was the most difficult course I have ran to date since I became a runner. But then again, there is a HUGE difference between road racing & trails. Here is my journey of four hours, 29 minutes, & 34.6 seconds.
The description per psychowyco.com – “A loop course on rocky, rooty, and hilly bridle trails & single-track trails. Time limit: 9 hours for 50k & 20 miler, 8 hours for 10 miler.” I was a little scared of the “rocky & rooty” since I met some of those face to face last November at Sander’s Saunter. But then I thought, “how hard can it be, I’m nearly a PRO now after completing a six mile trail run” (I laugh heartily at myself). I was originally going to sign up for the 10 mile since I really thought it was going to be cold. As I watched the extended forecast, it was looking like great weather so I decided to jump on the 20 mile. Two ten mile loops, what the hey. Signing up late meant that I forfeited the race hoodie. I would rather lose that than lose my entry fee had I signed up early and had a DNS (Did Not Start) if it had turned out snowy & bitter cold! I shudder to think about what that trail is like in snow & ice as it was two years ago.
I arrived at the lake right at 0630 per advice from a trail running god friend. He stated that the parking lot near the start/finish would fill up fast, so be an early bird. After a complete loop around the lake (I am somewhat directionally challenged), I found the aforementioned parking lot. First things first-johnny room location. I was pleasantly surprised that I was the only one in there (two stall park bathroom). I went back to the car, grabbed a jacket, and went to pick up my bib. I felt chilled, so since I had plenty of time to kill, I sat back in the car. I made sure all of my gear was intact, ate a “Honey Stinger” waffle, sat some more, made another trip to the john, pinned my bib on, took the jacket off, donned my new CamelBak hydration pack (without the bladder on purpose) & headed to the shelter where the heat was. Important things first: love on the running god’s dog “Athena” and get into her head.
Since the director strongly advised carrying your own hydration device or water bottle, the vest was perfect for one bottle that I could fill up along the aid stations & carry my phone, keys, gels, & salt capsules. Or so I thought. The water bottle was about three inches too big & I had to hold onto it for 2.8 miles until I got to the first aid station where I dumped it and had the kind volunteer put it where my water bladder should be. Some of us gathered around the electric heater as if we were freezing to death at 43 degrees.
0758: Engage Garmin to find satellite & head toward the start. Two minutes pass & we’re off across a lawn full of Sugar Gum tree balls-#$%@&*! I felt those! “Hope I don’t roll an ankle before I even get started,” I thought. We cross a bridge, go up a hill and enter the trail head. Lots of people. Congested. I engaged my herd mentality and took the lead of the feet directly in front of me. Lots of rock, lots of walking. The faster runners began to gain a little speed until the all rock hill from hell.
A few seasoned trail runners leaped right up that thing. Since I didn’t want to
“bust a knee cap” (I do a BAD Joe Pesci impersonation), I walked gingerly (always wanted to use that word) up & around those rocks. Smooth sailing for a bit until the wrestlers mud pit (at least that’s what it looked like-doubtful that much wrestling goes in in mud-dung). Great! Thought there was no mud?! Since I don’t own gators, I tried to stay to the sides.
All this time my water bottle was going “slosh, slosh” and my keys were singing “jingle, jangle.” It was annoying to me, so I know it had to be annoying to others. Have we even reached a mile yet? Next up: a creek (stream?) to cross.
I don’t know what I was looking at but it must have been pretty interesting as runner in back was looking that way too. Could have been an alligator for all I know. Right foot got wet. Glad it was warming up. Just a bit longer and there it was in all of it’s glory-the 2.8 mile Triangle aid station!
I can’t say enough good about these people. I drank what I could of my water, dumped the rest & nice lady put it in my back compartment I ate one of my gels, fixed the key problem and off I went annoying noise free! I was entering the “triangle” one of the most fun parts of the trail with lots of winding up, down, & around. I was feeling pretty full of myself staying upright around all of those rocks and mud and water. Then it happened at mile 3.2 after I had just told the girl behind me if I fell to just “use me as a stepping stone.” Toe caught a rock or root and down to my right side I went. This pic must have been a little before it happened because that was definitely the girl.
Okay, had to get that first one out of the way. No bragging rights for no falls this day. Then just 0.2 miles later, there I went again-down to the right. I determined that the Jeff Galloway “shuffle” for the roads was not working out for me on the trails. I decided to pick my knees up a little and “trot like a horse.” After all, they ARE bridle trails!
Mile 3.8 was the backside of the first aid station. I downed some “Heed” drink and some more water and took off again. I don’t remember specifics about the next 1.2 miles, but there were a couple of open culverts to cross and the long winding dam area. I suppose that’s why the next aid station is called the “Dam aid station.”
There I swallowed a salt capsule as I had been running over an hour at this point, drank some water and glory of all glories: road hills! Two gloriously STEEP hills to run before entering back into the woods & on the trails. “I can make up some time here,” I thought to myself (as if I cared about time, <snort>)! I remember mumbling to the guy I passed (who was walking), something like, “THIS is MY forte-the ROADS!”
Crowd was really thin at this point, 3 of us and a lady with a Weimaraner. This was the toughest part of the course to the finish. Lots of steep, steep hills and rocks.
After feeling like Tarzan and three miles later, there was the mile 8.2 aid station. I drank more water & Heed, ate something that I don’t recall, and took off with 3 other women. I actually “semi-fell” while walking up a hill but caught myself, so I count that as 1/2 a fall. On this next steep rocky climb, I told the three gals to go ahead so that I could take a pic.
A mile or so later after topping a hill, there was a lone drummer in full marching band gear. It was weird & awesome all at the same time. Wish I would have taken a pic. I will mention the lady in pink and the lady in orange in the above pic again in the next paragraph.
I caught up to the three and was enjoying some shady, soft leaf covered trails and got a bit ahead. Darned if those rocks didn’t jump up and grab the toe of my right foot and down I went AGAIN… on-can you guess? MY RIGHT SIDE! This time the inner part of my left knee hit the hard ground. The girls in pink and orange were not too far behind and stopped and were genuinely concerned. Yes it hurt & for a moment I thought that with less than a mile left, I may be hobbling to the finish and dropping down to the 10 mile distance. Girl in pink offered to help me up but I told them to go on, that I just needed to “sit and feel sorry for myself” for a minute. After what seemed like 30 minutes (it may have been three), I got up, dusted my butt off, tested out the knee and took off running. It stung some but not enough to impede my running or walking.
Soon after, I heard the music and knew the finish line was near. My ten mile split was 2:05:03.1 with a 12:30 pace. I stayed at the Main aid station for 5-10 minutes to stretch, hydrate, swallow another salt cap, ate some bacon and other goodies (sugar free diet out the window until after major races), and took off for the second loop.
This time there was no crowd and I determined that I was just going to take my time, not fall, and take some pictures. It was truly peaceful until I caught up to a guy that had the same four AC/DC songs blasting over & over. He finally got way ahead of me after the triangle. The next pic was taken by Mile 90 Photography on what they call “Speed Demon.” Some of the down hills the last 4 miles were of the winding, curvy type.
One of the coolest things was seeing the four firemen in full attire doing the 10 miler. I thanked them for their service. Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography
Being mostly alone the second time around was great for leisurely taking photos of steep, rocky cliffs with danger signs, complete with a shot of my shadow! (humor, arr, arr).
I had one more fall between miles 18 & 20, this time on my left side-go figure. Only one witness. I finally reached the finish with a total time of 4:29:34.6 with an average pace of 14:27/min per mile. All things considered, I was extremely happy with that in the sense that my projected finish time for my age and gender was 5:50:00. Not bad for an antique finishing 60 out of 87 with 8 of those total being older than me and 3 the same age. Of the 27 finishing after me-two were older and one the same age. Not bragging, just stating that age is a number. Photo credit below: Mile 90 Photography.
I try to learn something from every experience in life. What I learned was this:
Avid trail runners are beasts & are much more nimble of foot than I am.
The “proper way to fall” skills I learned from skydiving class come in handy on trails.
The dancing lessons I took as a child for my clumsiness did NOT help.
The appropriate size water bottle for your pocket is essential.
Extraneous noises out in nature annoy me.
I need to find a really GREAT trail shoe.
Ben Holmes & the Trail Nerds/Volunteers are awesome.
Mile 90 Photography is phenomenal (of course I already knew this).
Many (and mini) down hills shred the quads.
When in horse territory, learn to pick up your knees & trot like a horse.
I don’t know if bears crap in the woods, but horses sure do!
All in all it was a great time on a 72 degree winter day in February.
Hope to see you sometime soon on the roads or trails,