Heather Jenifer Clark’s Terrapin 2016 1/2 Marathon Race Report

My quest to be an ultra-runner – perspective from a mid-packer…

I’m starting to feel part of the “Trail Tribe” – I’ve completed 2 trail half marathons, a 25k, the CAT’s summer trail series, many miles on area trails and even planned our last vacation based on the trails we could run. My first Ultra is coming up in April… Oh my!

We are ready! Me (on right) With Emily Day Whitworth and Ashley Rush Higginbotham

Selfie on Terrapin Mountain with Erin Clark

Yes – I log a lot of miles on the trails – not with the belief that I’ll be an fast runner – it’s because I LOVE the peace, the scenery, the ability to “let go of everyday life”, the feeling that I’ve found inner peace, happiness and gratitude and I like to “best” myself!

Trail running has brought adventure to my “middle age life”. As an empty-nester – it’s time to focus on me. Luckily my hubby is “All In” – or it allows him uncontested time on the links…! Love you Lance Clark.

This weekend’s adventure began with “car camping” – camping has never been “my thing” – yet you’re never too old to embrace new things! Cozy camping!

Today we took on Terrapin Mountain in the form of a Half Marathon! Emily Day Whitworth and Ashley Rush Higginbotham were my partners in crime. My previous “MO” has always been – “ignorance is bliss” when it comes to the course. Why worry about what you can’t control… That said – that doesn’t seem to be the “Ultra Runner Way”… They are “one with the course” before they even run… Okay – I’m in… – I read the course description – not so bad, elevation – okay need to work on that, watched a YouTube video – Fat Man’s Misery – uh what… My mild claustrophobic self-began to worry… Got some reassurance (thanks Michelle Andersen)!


Then John Andersen sent out a pre-race brief – are you kidding me! He talks about things like – Jarmans +/- coefficient, Rock Out Cropping, Rock Wedge/Drop, Rock Garden, Aide Station (should be a good thing right), then he says “the challenge begins” – WTF!! PUD’s (pointless ups & downs) with 10 stream crossings – and if you have anything left (my words now) – A Jarmans down with a mile road cool down to the finish.

The finisher shirt!

Let’s just say – DO NOT let the pretty words fool you – Jarmans coefficient – fancy wording for “crazy up”, Rock Out Cropping – awesome view on the edge of a cliff, Rock Wedge/Drop – code word for “shouldn’t have had the pizza pre-race dinner”, NOBODY MENTIONED THE HOLE WE CRAWL THROUGH, Rock Garden – uhm don’t fall or you will need new teeth, yet the most painful part – running down to the 2nd Aide Station only to walk back up, PUDs really the worst part – I LOVED THIS PART! Felt like the home stretch, counted the stream crossings (awesome tip) – kept pace consistent and felt strong as I moved past other runners. Then I hit the Jarmans down (more like Sugar Hollow) – saw Sophie Carpenter Speidel, hit the gravel road and had gas in the tank to keep it going. Was the course a challenge – YES! Was it an awesome race – Yes! Awesome race director Clark Zealand – Yes! Great swag – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the coffee mug and my finisher shirt, great volunteers and the best part – Cheerleaders on the course!! Hands down – the small community of trail runners is different (not better or worse) than road runners. Road races are (at least the ones I’ve run) huge; the intimacy of the trail group makes it Special. Being able to hang out in the “covered” pavilion watching the 50K finishers cross in the pouring down rain/sleet with smiles, grimaces and woo hoo’s on their faces was the best! That’s how close we were!

At the finish line with Ashley and Emily

A few thanks – John and Michelle can’t thank you enough for introducing me to the trails, Ashley for setting the goals, my trail running buddies – you better know who you are, and the CATs – awesome resource! The amazing, awesome, incredibly accomplished trail runners that I’ve been able to meet – reading about you in books, magazines – listening to your podcasts – AWESOME! Yet watching you race – priceless! Most of all – my hubby and my girls – LOVE YOU more than “this much”!

Today was a great day! One I would repeat!

PS – A few shout outs – Woo Hoo Lynchburg Ladies Soccer – loved seeing Erin’s teammates from WAHS – Marina Clark & Rachel Cooke!
Michael Campbell – to see you running 1 week after completing TJ100K – WOW what a recovery run!!
Bob Clouston for being there cheering everyone in! Good Luck tomorrow!!
Should you want to see pictures – see Ashley’s post!
Just putting it out there… Lynchburg Ultra Series might be my 2017 goal The finisher prize – let’s say – I may be “in”

Good Night Moon!

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