Since I registered for both trail races in the series by Fleet Feet Sports, I got a trail series package which was pretty cool. There was a hoodie, that honestly is so comfy that I never want to take off. And yes, I am wearing it while I write my recap. Of course! There was also a pair of Swiftwick socks (awesome!), a new handheld water bottle (haven't tried it yet), and Cliff Shot Blocks.
I wasn't very nervous going into this race. Until I went to bed Saturday night. I had a few problems sleeping like I normally do the night before a race, then I was awake before my alarm. I was looking at the weather and had a few wardrobe issues (30* but felt like 17*F. YUCK) Thankful my friends were up and on Twitter as they helped me figure it out. It was great to not leave my house until 7:15 for a race! As with most trail races, it was a smaller race, and also it was held at the local State Park, so it wasn't too far to get there. I enjoyed being able to park right beside the start/finish line and also line up at 7:55 for the 8am start.
|At the entrance to the parking lot, the flags always make me excited!|
I met up with my friend Amanda before the race and we sat in her car to stay out of the wind. We headed to the start area and said hi to a few other friends. Our awesome friends, Jamie and Kate, had come out to cheer for us on this "balmy" (I wish!) day. Thank you, Jamie for all the great pictures today! So fun to have them.
|Me & Amanda pre-race|
After a few announcements that we couldn't understand but hoped I'd figure out anything important, the horn sounded and we took off. We had started in the parking lot, so it was paved, then through the grass, over the road and onto the trail. Alum Creek mountain bike trails are single track trails and are filled with rocks, roots, stream crossings, trees, etc. There were a few times in that first mile that we came to an almost complete stop as everyone tried to get funneled down to the single track and find their pace. At this point, I was a little concerned that it would take a while, but honestly, after a few more minutes, it thinned out.
|And we're off!|
I knew I wasn't going to break any speed records, so I just tried to find my groove and run. I passed some people, I was passed by some.
|Within the first mile of the race. Thanks, Stuart for the picture!|
Running here without the snow and ice made the trail easier. It was a completely different place than my training run there a few weeks ago! Several times during the first loop, I had to remind myself to run "my race, my pace". I had no clue as to the distances that others were running, and had to keep in mind that I had 10k more to go when I got back to the start/finish line.
From the time I signed up for this race, I knew that I just wanted to get out on the trails, run a trail race and get some experience for my upcoming ultra. I kept as steady of a pace as I could and when I got back to the start/finish area at the end of my first 10k, I was surprised that I had averaged 12:02mm. My "closet" goal was to finish the race under 13:00mm.
|End of first 10k loop|
|Re-fueling with my best running friends|
|Start of my 2nd 10k loop|
The second loop had far fewer runners than the first one did. (after the race, I saw that there were 139 runners that completed the 10k, total race field was capped at 250, I think). There were stretches of trail where I would make friends and we'd chat a little bit before one of us would move on. There were stretches of trail where it was just me and nature. I was a little concerned about those as headphones were forbidden in this race. However, I should have known that nature would come through and help me through the run. Boredom never happened; how can it when if you stop paying attention for even a second you could trip on a rock or a root? The solitude of parts of the second loop were actually welcome. It allowed me to learn a lot about myself. I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was. These stretches reminded me that I don't need music to distract me and help me "forget" about what I'm doing. It reminded me that races are more about the journey and the experience than the final finish time (although that can be fun, too).
|Around mile 2 of the loop|
As I was running along, I looked at my watch a few times, but I was more curious than anything. I felt like I had slowed down considerably from the first loop, but realized it wasn't that much. This time around I stopped at the 4.5mile aid station for some water and got to talk to my friend Doug. At this point, I knew I was pretty much done and I didn't experience that feeling of relief. Sure, my muscles were starting to get angry at me from all the ups and downs, but overall, I still felt really good. For the first time that I can remember in a race that I ran on my own, I never hit a wall, I never had the feeling that I could not wait for the race to be done.
Across the road, through the grass, into the parking lot...there are my crazy awesome friends and the finish line.
|20k done 2:26:53|
I immediately went to get a slice of yummy pizza then got my finisher's award. What an AWESOME award! I cannot wait to plant my tree, I'm just hoping that I don't kill it in the next few days with frigid temperatures here.
Things to remember for next race; run more conservative in the first half so I can hopefully run a little faster in the second half or at least keep the same pace.
Finishers Award: Tulip Poplar Tree
Honestly, I could not have asked for a better experience for my first trail race of any distance. The organization, support, volunteers, aid stations, and awards were excellent. Thanks for an awesome race, I can't wait for the next one in the series!
20k (12.4miles): 2:26:53
Overall: 43/69 for the 20k
Division (women): 14/27