WV Trilogy - Part 2

(If you haven't read Part 1, it's here.)

(Sat) Oct 13 - 
Sunrise at Spruce Knob
6 a.m. start in the dark. My legs surprised me by being happier than yesterday. My heart is in better place as well. The first 6.7 mile goes up to Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. Part of this section was on fire road and I welcomed the faster miles. Steady progress was made in the first 20 miles or so until the long, long descent into Aid Station 3. As I have decided yesterday, I'd start the race, go from aid station to aid station, and re-evaluate my condition at each. I left Aid station 2 feeling good but then the long descent once again put doubts in my mind. Running reduced to little steps on jello-legs. Compression socks helped to contain the injury and pain, but the strength to support the pounding was still lacking. Soon, my knees started to hurt as well. At aid station 3, they told me I had 2:45 to make it to the next aid station before the cut-off. At the pace I was moving, I knew it was unlikely. However, I did know at least the first couple miles were climbing back up the same way we just came down. RD Dan Lehmann had warned us not to be discouraged by that climb. Little did he know that I'd be encouraged by it since I much prefer going up than down. Knowing I could at least manage that, I didn't want to call it quit. I rather have them pull me out. With PB&J in my hand, I said goodbye to the volunteers and a ride back.

Running along the ridge and seeing the leaves-covered ground took my mind off pain and pace a little bit. My running gait had stiffened up and I probably looked ridiculous. There were a couple people who blew passed me during the descent, trying to make the cut-off. Three ladies had made it, but I learned later they didn't make the next cut-off with less than four miles left to finish the 50-miler. What a bummer! As my watch clicked 3:30 p.m., I was still about 1.5 mile out. I arrived at the aid station about 20 mins. later. Total running time today was 9 hr 50 mins, covering 33.4 miles.

I still don't know how I feel about the race. I did what I could, but DNF is still hard to swallow and it was my own fault to put myself in this situation to begin with. My plan and goal for tomorrow is the same as today's: get to the starting line and see what I could do. I want to thank you for all your support. You pulled me through difficult times and I have actually made it further than I thought I could.

(Sun) Oct. 14 - 
"Ouch!" That was my first reaction stepping off the bed this morning. I could barely walk! I limped to the bath house to get ready and did feel better after I walked. The race this morning didn't start until 9 a.m. There were quite a few new faces who just came to do the half marathon. But we wore proudly the bright red bib number, which separated the Trilogy runners from the others. Although, you don't really need the bib to spot us but by how we walk and how we make our way up and down the few steps in the dining room. The sense of community has grown day by day. It was special for me to see those smiling faces on the out-and-back sections on the half marathon course as our journey was coming to a conclusion.

Trail before the Cardiac hill
The half marathon is significantly easier than the last two days. Perhaps it was just because of the distance. We revisited some sections we ran before, notably the Cardiac Hill, a steep ascent before the finish in all three races. Other than the Cardiac Hill, there was only one major climb and it was on a forest road. Most of the single tracks were rolling. We did have to climb three barb-wired fences - as if rocks, roots, swamp, and creek crossing were not enough. My legs warmed up to the idea of running again after two miles or so. It's funny how "short" the half marathon felt though it took 2:24. I love the feeling of crossing the finish line, knowing I have finished what I set out to do.

"The joy of the Lord is my strength" came to mind as I run today. Aside from practical lessons about running like listening to my body, watching my nutrition, and being smart in training, what God has shown me the most in the past few days is to be faithful with what I have been given. My strength, joy, and security is rooted in the knowledge that He is pleased as long as I have given my best regardless of the outcome.

RD Adam Casseday and Dan Lehmann, thank you for this unforgettable weekend. Thank you all the staff at the Mountain Institute and your hospitality. Food was delicious as well. Weather, thank you for cooperating and gave us three perfect days. Friends, I could not have done this without you. It was heartwarming to read all the texts and messages from you. Supporters, thank you for donating toward the Ethiopia coffee farm project. You've made this endeavor worthwhile to begin with and your donation will give hope and make an impact in a lot of lives.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)


  1. You did a great job Phyllis. It was great meeting you and I hope to see you back next year!

  2. Your sprit and determination are more motivating than you can imagine! Thank you for sharing your journey with me :)

  3. Phyllis, thanks for sharing your journal. I could feel your pain on day 2. You did an awesome job to toe the line for the entire trilogy!

    1. Thank you, Matt! Congrats on your Pitchell finish!!! I think doing the Trilogy again would be easier than Pitchell.

  4. great job Phyllis... fwiw I prayed for you a bit throughout my race Saturday while I was doing my little mountain run.

    I'm looking forward to paying up and helping out the cause in Ethiopia!