Hey friends!! Happy Friday and cheers to a long weekend!! So, I forgot that I owed you guys a race recap from my vacation, sorry! As you know, I have been doing some trail racing recently. I have my first two recaps from this XTERRA Trail race series of there here and here if you haven’t read them yet. This was the final race in this series and was held on Saturday, August 16th. So let’s get started!
I didn’t really prep my stuff too much the night before, I had an idea of what I wanted to wear and decided to be more relaxed about it. My goals for this race were a bit different from the first two races, now that I knew how tough and technical these trails were. My primary goal was to not stop or walk any portion of the course, something that was clearly not achieved in my first two races. My second goal was not to “race” this race. I realized after my last race that I really enjoy running trails, but I don’t necessarily love racing them if that makes sense. I put a lot of pressure on myself when I race (which is why I don’t like to race much) and I wanted to rather treat this like a training run and be able to relax and enjoy it. I think tempering my expectations and accepting I wouldn’t be running in the 7’s or 8’s on the trails is what I mentally needed to do heading into this race.
I was really glad this race was back to a normal time (8 a.m.) and not 11 a.m. like the last race. I woke up at 6:30 a.m., relaxed and read a little bit of a book I’ve been engrossed in, ate a piece of homemade banana bread Robyn made the night before, got dressed and at 7:15 a.m. I headed to the race. It was only a 10 minute drive which was nice. I quickly found parking and as I was walking over to the registration booth, I noticed there was a Rock Tape booth, among others, that wasn’t present at any of the other races. As many of you guys know, since the last trail race, my ankle has been on and off sore. Nothing that prevents me from running, but nothing that is totally normal either. Of course, when I woke up that morning, my ankle was pretty tender. I walked over to the Rock Tape group and told them the problems I was having and they had a PT on hand to tape people up. I have never used Rock Tape before but I figured, why not give it a try, plus they had tape in my favorite color 🙂 They taught me how to tape myself up given my issues and I walked away feeling a bit more confident that my ankle wouldn’t cause me too many issues at this race.
After I got taped up, I got in line for my bib. The line moved pretty quickly and once I got my bib, I ran back to my car to finish getting ready (applying sunscreen and bug spray and dropping off my phone, etc.)
I made my way back to the starting line and waited. This race had two distances, a half marathon and the 10k. I was running the 10k so I waited off to the side while the race director made announcements, we sang the star spangled banner and then the half marathoners lined up. The 10k racers were to start about 10 mins after the half runners, so we saw the half racers off and chatted and I got my Garmin triangulated and ready to go. Once the air horn blew, we were off. Immediately, one girl took off like a bat out of hell and left the rest of us in her dust. She was flying and soon after she was totally out of sight. I kept reminding myself that I was not to race this but rather set into a comfortable pace for the terrain and enjoy it. The first mile felt good and I settled into a good rhythm. I knew I was towards the front of the pack but I didn’t feel like I was pushing it hard. This course overlapped with the last course so I won’t reiterate how technical the terrain was at times.
I focused on my breathing and made sure to watch my footfall. Thankfully my ankle felt better than it had in a month and I stopped worrying so much about possibly twisting it or landing wrong. There were a few hills early on and I kept repeating to myself, “Do not slow down or stop, what goes up must come down.” I got through the hills and felt really great. I passed the two mile marker and up ahead was the first aid station. I stopped for about 20 seconds, grabbed a quick drink of Gatorade and was off again. There was one guy I was pacing myself off of the entire time. I always kept him in my sight and fell in step with him a few feet behind. Fast forward to more hills and jumping over rocks and tree roots and the race was already half over.
I was still feeling really good and comfortable, something I did NOT feel at this point in either of the last two races. I kept telling myself to relax into a comfortable pace and breath. We went along until we hit the 4 mile mark and the last aid station for the 10k runners (and a photographer).
Again, I stopped for about 20 seconds, took a quick gulp of water, grabbed 5 Swedish fish to keep my mouth moist. They had a great assortment of goodies for the runners, I didn’t see the gummy bears until I had already grabbed the Swedish fish, a total bummer since that is my most favorite candy on the planet…oh well.
I told myself I had about 2 miles left to go and to run this smart. While tailing my new friend, we continued on our journey to the finish line. We encountered more hills and I kept repeating my hill mantra and I made it up all the hills with no issues. Before I knew it, mile 6 beeped on my Garmin and the end was nearing. We had one final big hill to climb before coming out of the woods to head towards the finish line. I came running out of the woods and headed towards the finish line (and another photographer that I didn’t see until I passed him!)
I looked up and focused on the finish line. I crossed and stopped my Garmin and a young boy handed me my medal.
I looked down and was initially really disappointed with my time, but I quickly changed my perspective. I was able to accomplish both of the goals that I set for myself for this race. The only time I stopped was for fuel and I did not have to stop or walk at any part on the race. I conquered all the hills and I felt really good the whole way through. I had nothing to be disappointed about.
I walked over, grabbed some more to drink and thanked the guy that ran in front of me for pacing me. He laughed and said he is the one who should be thanking me since I was the only thing that kept him going. He said he could hear me on his heels the whole race and I kept him pushing through. I love when runners inspire and motivate each other during races! After we talked for a bit, we walked over the finish line to get an idea of placing. At that point, I knew I came in 5th overall and was the 2nd female. The girl who took off in the beginning of the race…well, she won the entire thing. I wasn’t sure if she was in my age group, but my bet was that she was.
I had to get going because Robyn and Ashton were waiting for me at home to take off to NH. I saw the race director to get the “big” medal for completing the series of races and I wrapped it up and headed home so I could shower and get on the road.
This medal is really big (bigger than my palm), the picture doesn’t do it justice. At the end of each race, we got smaller medals that fit in their respective places in the top portion of this big medal. The bottom is a bottle opener. I thought it was a really cool idea to have all the small medals locking into a bigger one.
Overall, this race experience was MUCH better than the last one in terms of directional signs, start times, etc. The trails were very clearly labeled, there were volunteers all over the course to make sure we were going in the right direction and it went flawlessly.
Later that day we got the email with the final times and placements. I took SECOND place in the women’s open division (ages 20-39) and 5th place overall like the last race.
I had a feeling the girl who won the whole thing was in my age group. I am in awe that she maintained a 7:16 pace for this race, but seriously, kudos to her! I was just really happy that for the 3rd race in a row, I placed. I think trail running is growing on me and there are a few events they hold in the late Fall I’d like to participate in if the timing works but I think I need to continue to temper my expectations when it comes to paces in trail races.
Well, that’s it folks. I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend–spend time with family and friends, laugh, work out and eat good food! I’ll see you all next week!
Question of the day
Do you ever treat races as regular runs?
Anyone racing this weekend?