Dr. Horton,

Thank you for hosting such a fun and well-organized race.  The 
longest run I ever did before Saturday was 24 miles, and I tend to 
get lost a lot, so I would never have signed up for Holiday Lake if 
Anne Jones hadn't talked me into it.  Come to think of it, she talked 
me into that 24 mile run, too...but anyway, my friend Sharon and I 
like running the trails on Brush and Gap mountains, and Holiday Lake 
is flatter, so how hard could it be?  Being overconfident goes along 
with getting lost a lot, wouldn't you agree?

I like getting up early, and the weather was perfect, 24 degrees and 
clear, and I even brought a flashlight for the start.  It was so 
pretty seeing the twinkling lights from the pack of runners going up 
the hill.  I suppose it's not good trail etiquette, but I tried to 
pass some people when we got on the Lakeshore trail because at that 
pace, it would take all day to finish.  It thinned out some by the 
time we got to the first aid station, and our crew Lynne and Magda 
yelled, "Hi, Kim!" but when I saw it had already been 37 minutes, I 
didn't stop, and tried to pick up the pace a little.  The other 
runners were all so nice, and some of them had interesting costumes. 
Most of them had less gear and lighter clothing, and I worried that I 
had misjudged that.  I carried 50 ounces of water, shot blocks, 
electrolytes, and chocolate almonds in a backpack, and I wore tights, 
a jacket, a headband and two pairs of gloves.  (This may have been 
some post-traumatic stress from getting stuck in the snow on White 
Rocks Road last December.) 
At seven miles we crossed Holiday Creek. 
We had been there on Friday because someone said there was a bridge, 
but all we saw was a log that would have taken too long to cross. 
Magda threw some rocks in, but by the time I got there on Saturday, 
they were iced over and my feet got soaked.  I was wearing the wool 
socks Anne gave me, so that wasn't bad.  When I got to the second aid 
station at 8 miles, I hadn't made up much time, so I skipped that 
one, too.  It was light by then, and very pretty in the woods, and I 
passed a few people, and a few people passed me, but with 25 miles to 
go, I didn't hurry.  My goal time was six hours, which was ten minute 
pace plus thirty minutes of rest, but since everything was downhill 
on the first loop, I knew I wouldn't be making up time on the second 
loop, and I skipped aid station 3 also.  For a few miles, I ran with 
a guy named Kevin who was running his tenth Holiday, and I gather 
that for ultrarunners, Holiday is a cake walk, but I also gathered 
that trail runners as a group are kind, decent, hard working people.

We got on the Lakeshore trail again as we approached the turnaround, 
and I thought I might fall off the narrow trail into the lake trying 
to avoid the fast runners coming back the other way.  I counted the 
first 20 or so men, and then started counting the women, and I was in 
tenth place at the turnaround!  I didn't stop at that one, either, 
but it didn't take long for Kim to pass me, and then two more young 
women glided by.  I was still feeling fine, but I didn't want to 
spend the next 16 miles stressed out about what place I was in, so I 
let them go.  I walked up a few hills, though none of them were as 
steep as what we are used to here in Blacksburg, and ate some more 
chocolate almonds.  I skipped aid station 3 again, and another woman 
passed me, and she looked so strong and so fresh that I knew I'd 
never catch her.  I heard someone following me for about a mile, and 
when he passed me, he said my pace was good, so I followed him for 
the rest of the race, which was a Godsend. I think he might have even 
waited for me a few times when I stopped to walk.  He stopped at aid 
station 2 and I skipped it, but it didn't take him long to catch back 
up.  Then we got to the creek, and it felt so good to run through the 
icy water!  At that point I'd run farther than I ever had in my life, 
and seven miles to go didn't seem too bad.  I skipped the last aid 
station because I just wanted to be done, and a woman in pink passed 
us and said, "We'll be done in less than 30 minutes!"  When we got 
back out to the road, one of the volunteers yelled, "Just an easy 
downhill sprint, and you're done!"   That was the slowest sprint of 
my life.  Still, I finished in 5:22, way better than my goal time, 
and I wasn't even sore the next day.  Sometimes it's better to be a 
turtle than a hare.

All in all, it was a great experience.  Thanks so much!
Kimberley Homer
Blacksburg, Virginia