A few photos on Strava.
The pain cave is a real thing, I can confirm that, now. Especially when you’re running in flooded conditions while it’s still raining.
I knew it was going to be wet after multiple days of rain, but this was the last chance to hit this before I'd be out of town and only back in too hot of conditions. Started off optimistic about the weather improving and drying up throughout the day, but by 7 miles in (on Bear Mountain) rain started and it had become very clear long before that I was going to be in puddles more than out.
Things really started getting nuts around around Crystal Springs...the water crossings there were heftier than some rivers I've seen. From there, water crossings became the biggest and most consistent challenge for miles and that only stopped once I got onto the Pollard Creek section (working up Hickory Nut Mountain).
The Hickory Nut climb was not as grueling as expected with the distraction the beautiful creek flowing below and a drier trail...though it was still absolutely saturated, but I wasn't crossing rivers at least. Descending Hickory Nut, though, was worse than expected. I'd hoped to pick up some speed on the way down, but the terrain was more technical than I anticipated and my right knee (which had been bothering me since mile 7) had gotten bad enough that I couldn't push myself on the downhill.
Sections of dirt roads and smoother double-tracks were a nice relief later in the trail, and without their low-water bridges, some of the water crossings wouldn't have been possible. Fortunately, this leg was fairly uneventful (as far as the trail goes), though I was starting to hurt a lot at this point.
The Tompkins Ben area was slow going as I struggled with crams in my calves that I couldn't really stop to stretch because then everything else would cramp. At that trail-head, however, I noticed a nearby water fountain that was a life-saver! From there, I just had to keep pushing.
My family was waiting to cheer me on the final fractions of a mile as I descended onto trails end road. TO my surprise, the short and paved ADA section of the trail would still prove a challenge. I briefly missed the turn off the wooded foot bridge because the turn looked like a small boat ramp as it lead into the water. Fortunately, my Garmin alerted me, and as at close inspection, I saw the asphalt path about knee-deep beneath the water. I'd come that far, so I was going to run it or swim it, no matter where that path led into the water. Two sections were significantly submerged in the lake, the first about 20 feet across and the second about 150 feet. After that, it was all over but the cramping! I shuffled into the parking and chugged the first Gatorade in sight. Mission: Accomplished.
Great run and great report.