Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon Race Recap

Wow, it’s been a month since I updated you guys on anything, basically right before I hopped on a plane to Detroit to run the Rock CF Rivers half marathon.  This is my second time running this race, the first time being in 2014. I absolutely LOVE this race. It’s not only for a cause near and dear to me, but overall, it’s just really well run and a total family affair, which I love.  So, here is my Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon Race Recap.

On Saturday, a team of 13 of us boarded a plane from Boston to Detroit, landed, grabbed a few rental cars, dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed to pick up our bibs before the expo closed.  It was super quick to check in, get our bib numbers, our race shirts (below in blue) and we met up with Emily, who created the event and runs the foundation Rock CF (in gray). She is this tiny, ridiculously amazing force of nature who sheds light and humor to everyone around her.  We talked with her for a while and then took a team picture with her and her nieces and nephew–aren’t they adorable?

team vertex

After buying Ashton and myself new Rock CF shirts, we went out for a quick, but yummy team dinner and got back to the hotel early so we could rest.  Here is my flat runner the night before.

rock cf outfit

I went to bed early and ended up getting up really early on race day and had plenty of time to have breakfast, get dressed and meet the Vertex team to head over to the race around 6:30 am.  I was a bit nervous because of the flight the day before and that fact that I spent most of that day not drinking any water, so I spent much of the morning hydrating.

We arrived at the race start and thankfully, was able to keep warm in the high school gym since it was FREEZING outside. We were able to mingle and get a team picture with Emily right before the race started and before everyone broke off.  This was the first year that there was not only a 5k and half marathon, but a half marathon relay, which was a really cool option for a few of our team members.

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I had resigned myself before even getting on the plane to the fact that I was likely not going to PR this race.  While I completed my training plan exactly as prescribed, I was just not feeling as strong as I had hoped I would.  Going into training my goal was to run in the 1:40’s, but I just knew I wasn’t able to do that for this race.  I was mostly okay with that and reminded myself that not every race can be a PR and that this is much more about supporting the cause than getting a PR.

My friend Lindsay and I decided we would run together and stay with the 1:55 pace group.  This felt really doable for me, with not such a hard effort on my part.  This was Lindsay’s first half, so I was excited to run and experience it with her.  This was also the first year of offering pacers, which I personally love!  Before the race started, we ran to the bathrooms and then we started to line up with the rest of the half marathoners.  It was COLD out, like 20 degrees cold and SO windy. I am glad I brought my gloves and hat because I could barely feel my fingers!

The gun went off and we crossed the starting line.  We were right next to our pacer for the first mile and a half and then I felt it….I had to pee.  Not like, oh, I can hold it until the race is over, a….holy shit, I need to find the quickest port a potty.  I definitely over-hydrated, something I have never done before while running. I have never once had to stop during any kind of run or race before to pee.

Thankfully there was a port a potty at mile 2, so I told my friend Lindsay to keep going and I would catch up with her.  I thought this would be a minute process.  There was one person in the stall and one in front of me waiting.  I was stopped for almost 6 minute…yes, you read that right SIX FREAKING MINUTES…DURING A RACE?!?  My anxiety level escalated at each second ticking by.  I was so frustrated but knew there was no way I could run and make it to the next port a potty, so I was stuck waiting.  When it was my turn, I peed in record time and was off and running.

To say I was annoyed is an understatement but I raced as fast as I could ahead, trying to catch up to the 1:55 pace group and my friend Lindsay again.  I knocked off a few miles in the low to mid 7’s and knew I needed to slow down.  At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to catch up to my friend, 6 minutes was just too long of a time to catch up.  I was also kicking myself for such a rookie mistake of trying to speed up really fast, because I definitely felt it in the latter half of the race. I end up having to walk through all of the water stops and walked for about 20 seconds five or six additional times because my calves were cramping so badly.  There were many times during the last part of the race where I wondered if  I was even going to make it in under two hours and I was devastated.  I know that 2 hours is a respectable time and that I wasn’t going to PR this race, but for some reason, the thought of running a 2+ hour half made me want to cry. Thankfully, I finished with a time that was respectable (to me.)

post race

final rock cf time

I don’t know if the almost 6 minutes I waited at the porta potty or the 2+minutes that I spent taking walking breaks would have equated to an end time 8 minutes faster, getting me that PR in the 1:40’s, but I definitely know that I would’ve done better than what I did if it wasn’t for the bathroom stop but I suppose, it doesn’t really matter because that isn’t what actually happened.  After the race, we waited for everyone to finish and took some team pics at the finish line with our medals.

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Quickly after this, we all piled into cars and ran back to the hotel to shower and get to the airport for our flights back home. It was a whirlwind trip that lasted less than 24 hours!

All in all, the Rock CF Rivers Half Marathon is a GREAT race for an even better cause.  I had a really fun time with some of my co-workers and I am happy that I had the opportunity to run it again and look forward to doing it in the future!

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Question of the day

Have you traveled by plane to a race before? If so, what race?

Did you watch the Boston Marathon on Monday? Thoughts?

 

 

XTERRA Trail Run Series (#2)-French River Race Recap

Hi Friends, Happy Hump Day!  Today is my last day in the office this week, so I am rushing to get all my stuff done so I can enjoy an extra long weekend with my boys!!  So, I have a little race recap for you.  As many of you know, in May I did a recap of my very first trail race (and run), the XTERRA Trail Run Series at Wallum Lake, which also happened to be the very first race I have ever placed in!!  Well, the second in this race series, the French River Trail Race was this past weekend.

french river logo

So, today we are going to recap this race, okay?  Sit back and relax, it’s kind of long!!  So, my race prep started off on Friday evening with me running around like a lunatic realizing the shorts I wanted to wear were dirty, so I was up late washing clothes.  Did I have other suitable shorts to wear? Of course, but they weren’t my “LUCKY” shorts.  I know I am a bit weird, just go with it.  So after doing a few loads of laundry and having all my clothes clean,  I laid out my racing outfit out the floor to make sure I was satisfied with all my choices.

French river race outfit

I made the mistake at the last trail race wearing a long sleeve shirt…I learned my lesson, that and well, it was expected to be in the high 80’s so a tank was the only reasonable option I could think of.  I recently bought this purple tank and have worn it for a few sweaty gym sessions and loved it so I thought, let’s give it a whirl for the race.  I had my trusty compression sleeves, my Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes , my “lucky” Nike tempo shorts and sports bra and my Wrightline socks.   My new to me item for this race was a brand new Bondi Band head band I just received in the mail.  It matched my shirt so I figured it was a minor new thing, so if I hated it, I could just toss it.

So, with my clothes all laid out, I relaxed for the rest of the night, watched a movie with Robyn and went to bed.  I didn’t realize when I initially signed up for this race that it was an 11 a.m. start time…WHAT??  Seriously, anything later than an 8 am race, especially in the summer months is just NUTS!  Am I right?  Anyways, I got up around 7:30 a.m. and coincidentally, Robyn was up making us all pancakes for breakfast (he did the same thing before my last trail race and I placed) so I figured this may be a good sign and of course that he was going to be locked into a new breakfast tradition before races whether he liked it or not! 🙂  Since the race wasn’t until 11, I wasn’t worried about having a heavier than normal (for me) breakfast, I had two wonderfully delicious raspberry pancakes and played with Ashton until 10 a.m.  Since the race was only about 6 miles away from our house, I didn’t have to leave super early to get there and get my bib, check in, etc.

I got to the race location in about 15 minutes and I was surprised to see the place was PACKED. At first I was confused, but quickly realized from all the signage that there was a triathlon going on before the race, which is why the parking lots were almost full.  Of course I started to panic but realized I still had 45 mins so it would be okay. It took me a bit to find a parking spot and ended up having to park quite a bit away from the action but it worked out well.  I jogged over to registration, got in line to get my bib, which took less than 5 minutes and then jogged back to my car to finish getting my stuff ready.

french river bib number
So, after I got my number attached, I grabbed my handheld water bottle (another lesson learned from the last race,) applied some more sunscreen and bug spray and attached my tracking device to my right ankle.  This was the first time I have used this method of tracking.  At first it felt weird but after a few minutes I didn’t even notice it.

french river tracking

 I made my way back to the starting line and quickly jumped into the portapotty line which moved quickly and then stood against the EMT van where I was shaded from the sun.  Now this is where everything starts to go downhill.

As we are waiting to line up for our race, the race director came over the intercom and said that we are going to be delayed by 30 mins because triathletes were still on the course and they had to make some adjustments to the course.  What?  At this point it was already in the low 80s and HUMID. I’m the first to admit that I don’t do well in really hot weather.  We joke, but it’s more truth than anything that when I think about the sun, I burn.  The heat just wipes me out in general so I wasn’t expecting to have a great race given that it felt like it was getting hotter by the minute and now we were delayed which means being outside for that much longer.  I wasn’t thrilled but at that point, there wasn’t really anything I could do.  I went and got a cup of Gatorade to stay hydrated and stayed in the shade as best I could.  

At around 11:35 a.m. they called the runner’s over the loud-speaker to make their way to the finish line (which was also the start line.)  We cheered on the last few triathletes as they crossed the finish line and then listened to all the announcements for the race by the race director and then the 18k runners were off.  They did a staggered start so we waited about 10 minutes and then the 8k runners lined up. I got my Garmin powered up and triangulated and then we were off. 

We took off running towards the woods and I heard my watch beeping a lot, I was confused and looked down to find that it was on a run/walk program so every 30 seconds it would beep to tell me to run or walk.  Now, should this have been a huge deal?  No, not really, but it ANNOYED ME TO NO END!!  I was afraid to stop it and try to fool with it for fear of messing with the mileage I already logged so I just dealt with it the entire run.  I felt pretty good for the first mile and while the trail was technical, it was nothing too crazy.  Famous last words….

After the first mile, I felt myself slowing down due to the heat and was thankful I had my handheld water bottle.  I was still at the front of the pack, even though I felt like I was crawling.  But, oh no, the crawling was coming.  I thought the last trail race had tough hills.  I laugh at my ridiculousness now.  The hills we encountered in this race were so steep I didn’t see one person run up any of them.  Everyone, even the pack leader stopped to walk. There were even a few hills that we had to get low into our legs and grab for rocks in front of us to help us up the hills.  It was much more hiking than running and my legs were burning and every time we got up one hill, there was another one waiting for us.

About 2 miles into the race, we had to cross the French River.  Now, when I think of crossing a river, I usually think of a long jump over a moving stream or hopping rock to rock over the water.  There were no rocks and no hop to get over this river.  We literally had to run through almost knee-deep water to the other side.  At first I was like, “Are you kidding me?”  I was freaking hot and tired and having a hard time regulating my breath and I knew I still had a long ways to go before I was done with this race, but after I was in the water, it felt so refreshing I wanted to lay in it for a bit to cool over, but I kept moving (very slowly.)

We hit one long downhill that was sort of a reprieve from all the climbing we had been doing, but it was so rocky and steep that I slipped a few times and had to concentrate hard on my footing.  Thankfully I didn’t fall but there were a few close encounters and my right ankle felt really beat up from all the weird landing on the rocks.  We hit another 3 or 4 steep hills and at this point I felt defeated. I was really struggling with my breathing which probably had little to do with the heat but more the terrain since I struggled with this in the first race too.

I had to walk, A LOT.  I never stopped which I am happy about but walking, especially walking up every single hill was is really messing with me mentally.  I know I am in good shape, I work out hard and I should be able to handle a 5 mile run (hell, I killed my last few runs at paces MUCH faster than what I was doing.)  I KNOW logically that trail running is a different beast and the fact that these are very technical trails that are more like hiking in the woods than trails just packed with dirt and some rocks here and there, but still…mentally I felt totally defeated.  I kept trying to tell myself that I just needed to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.  I know I was not the only one struggling, as I could see a few people in front of me and behind me going through what I can only guess were the same emotions.

The trails were labeled with red arrows for us, but there were times where it wasn’t clear which direction we were supposed to be going.  There were a few times where I was grateful there were a few other runners around me as we were all confused on which way to go and at one point during a stretch where I was alone, I made a wrong turn, but thankfully I second guessed myself and turned back around fairly quickly.  Come to find out, this was a very common issue with all the other runners (I’ll get to that in a bit.)  Anyways, I hit the 3.5 mile marker or there abouts and came across another obstacle…about 50-75 feet across of pure mud.  I tried to stay up on the side banks where it looked like the mud was packed in tighter but I still ended up trudging through mud up to my knees and almost lost my shoes on a few occasions, thankfully I was able to grab them before they were lost.  I was glad I had on my calf sleeves because the mud was so high and I knew I would want to get that off of me as soon as the race ended. There is something so gross to me about dried mud, I don’t mind wet mud, but dried mud, no thank you.  I just hate it…don’t judge.

After getting through the mud pit I was faced with another hill.  At this point, I just laughed…with tears in my eyes.  I pushed through and passed a few guys who I had been trailing for the past mile or so.  I crested the hill and had to take a left hand turn.  I heard my Garmin beep and knew I hit the 4 mile marker and I had a pep talk with myself.  I was almost there, I just had to keep moving.  We hit a relatively flat section for about 1/4 a mile and I kept my head down and focused on my erratic breathing, just trying to get things under control.  I took a right turn up another hill and realized I could see the finish line through the trees.  I stopped to walk for a few seconds to catch my breath so I could push it through to the end.

I took a few deep breaths and fixated on the finish line that was a little over 1/4 mile away.  I hit a straightaway and tried to relax.  There were volunteers who were directing runners towards the right path to get to the finish line and I took a sharp left and gave what little I had left in the tank to push myself through the finish line.  I have never been so happy to be done running before.  I stopped my Garmin and it said the time was 55:22, I did the last 8k in 43:42.   I didn’t get a picture of my Garmin after I stopped it, mainly because I was just beyond disappointed in myself and I was trying to catch my breath.  I was just DONE.  A volunteer, a young boy, gave me my medal with a huge smile.  I thanked him and walked over to get a cup of Gatorade and a girl I met at the last race came up to me and started to commiserate about how hard that course was.  I couldn’t really formulate my thoughts other than just to agree with her while I was drinking.  I stayed for about 5 minutes and wanted to start walking back to the car so I could get out of my shoes and stuff and get home to shower before heading to a birthday party with the boys.

I walked over to my car and snapped a photo of my shoes. It’s not super clear but I had to dump mud out of the soles of them.  I tried to clean them off as best I could before throwing them in the plastic bag I had in my car. Thankfully I had that in there because there was no way I was putting those dirty shoes, socks and sleeves in my new car with its cream-colored interior! HA!

french river dirty shoes

Here is my post race photo! Smiling because I am done and get to go home and shower! 🙂

french river post race

And my final picture with my medal.

French River post race and medal

I got home and Robyn asked me how it was and I just grunted and said “Fine.”  He didn’t push since he clearly knew I wasn’t happy with my performance.  I quickly took a shower and it took me a while to scrub the mud lines from my ankles.  I  got out and got ready for the party we were going to.  I had some quiet time to reflect on the race and while I was really glad I didn’t have to completely stop like I did in the last trail race, I was seriously pissed at how much I walked.  Seriously, every single hill had to be walked.  I know I was not alone on this,  the course was really tough and technical, but I was and still am just pissed at myself.  I am really competitive with myself so this was a huge blow to my confidence.  I had a really hard time getting my breathing under control.  I tried to work on more rhythmic breathing but it just wasn’t working on this course.  I know every race is going to be different and it helps us grow and learn more about ourselves, but it’s really hard when you know you are in good shape and get your butt kicked in a 5 mile race, you know?  Especially when I did SO MUCH better in the last 8k I did.

Anyways, I kept checking my email to see what the final race stats were since I didn’t wait around after I finished.  We finally got an email at around 10 p.m. that night from the race director but the stats were not in that email. It was a well thought out and much appreciated email apologizing for the less than stellar race.  He stated (among other things):

“The confusing markings on the course easily take the top spot for “needs significant improvement”, which was also a contributing factor to the start time delay (early race had similar issues). Our plan to reuse markings for multiple races completely backfired. If you would like to send me your gamin (or other) gps data for today, I’d greatly appreciate the opportunity to review it in an attempt to isolate bad turns on the course as well. If there was anything else on the top of you mind, please share it with me (good or bad); it’s how we grow into a better event management organization. Again, I’m very sorry about today.  I’ll mail out any awards to the top finishers. Unrelated to the poor course marking and varying distances covered, I heard the timing was in question for a number of runners. I’ll work with the timing company to find out more info.”
I appreciated him taking ownership of the fact that there were a lot of issues with the event and his apology was heartfelt.  I have a lot of respect for him sending out that email, which is why I will run the last race in this series and continue to support the XTERRA organization.  I know that no race is perfect and sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to.  I know my race personally sucked for a lot of reasons, but you know what they say…”On any given Sunday…”  Maybe my next race will be my best one (and Xterra’s best one), or maybe it won’t, but you won’t know if you don’t get out there and try!
 
I woke up on Sunday and it wasn’t a big surprise that I was REALLY sore.  I haven’t been sore after a race since Boston.  I knew given the difficulty of the course that I may be sore but I felt like I fell down a few rocky hills, everything from my shoulders to my ankles were tight and achy.  Even today, 4 days later, my right ankle is still a bit tender.  I hope in another day or so I can get back out there and run. I tried yesterday morning but no dice. I made it a little over a mile and had to stop. 
Anyways, on Tuesday afternoon the final race results were finally posted.

 

Place No.   Name                 G Ag Div      Div   City           St Final   Pace

===== ===== ==================== = == ======== ===== ================= ======= =====

    1   151 Dominic Mastromatteo M 13   1      JUNIOR Worcester MA       49:07  9:53

    2   150 Gianna Mastromatteo  F 15   2      JUNIOR Worcester MA       51:48 10:26

    3   131 Brian Mulcahy        M 40   1      MMAS  Northbridge MA      52:04 10:29

    4   146 Rebecca Luneau       F 42   1      FMAS  North Grafton MA    52:51 10:38

    5   136 Sara Zwicker         F 33   1      FOPEN Leicester MA        55:22 11:09

I took FIRST place in the women’s open division (ages 20-39) and 5th place overall.  I literally cannot believe it.  How did I manage that with such a slow (for me) pace?  I walked what I am going to estimate was close to a mile of hills and still placed? I was and still am in shock considering how much slower I ran this race vs. my last one and how crappy I felt about it and myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I am happy I placed, even if it was a small field of runners, but still, I really never thought that was a possibility with this race.

Well,  that’s my recap of my second trail race and my second time placing 1st in the women’s open division.  I am not counting on that happening again, but you never know…maybe running smaller races has its advantages 😉

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Question of the day

What was your best and/or worst race experience?

 

XTERRA Trail Run Series-Wallum Lake Race Recap

I mentioned a few weeks ago on the blog that I signed up for the XTERRA Trail Run Series Wallum Lake 8k race, which I ran this past Saturday.  So let’s do a little race recap, shall we? So,  like the planner that I am, I had laid out my racing outfit the night before so I  was able to relax a bit before getting ready Saturday morning.

race outfit

I had one of my favorite Swirlgear long sleeve shirts, my compression sleeves, my beautiful new trail running shoes, the Brooks Cascadia’s , my Nike tempo shorts and Injinji run socks.   I was a little nervous to try my new shoes out for the first time in a race, but it is what it is and if I was going to try them out normally, I’d be going out for a 4-5 miler anyways, so I had my fingers crossed that everything would be okay.  So, with my clothes all laid out, I was ready to rock and roll.  Then, on Saturday morning I was awoken (WAY too early) by the sound of a monsoon outside my window.  We have a skylight in the master bedroom and the rain was coming down so hard and fast that the noise level was just too much for me to ignore.  So, I got up and looked outside and prayed to the weather gods to make it stop for my race. The ground was soaked and I will be honest, my biggest concern was getting my pretty new shoes dirty. I know, I know, it’s called trail running, they ARE going to get dirty and I KNOW this, but their first trip out of the gate, I wanted them to stay clean for as long as possible.  Don’t question my rationale, I know it doesn’t make logical sense, but let’s just go with it, okay? 🙂

So, my loving husband got up and made us all pancakes for breakfast. I don’t normally eat a heavy breakfast before going to run, but I had a few hours to digest before the race (it started at 9am) so I had 2 pancakes and then got ready to leave. I left my house at 7:30 a.m. as the directions said the location of the race was about 22 miles away and would take me 40ish minutes.   I assumed it was all back roads and since I have NO sense of direction and rely on my trust GPS, I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get there, get my number and shirt and stretch before the race started.  Well, luckily the rain stopped and I arrived at Wallum Lake at 8:05 a.m. and followed the signs down into the woods towards the beach to get my bib and t-shirt. I got to walk through the start line and take a picture when it was still very quiet and no one was wandering around.

start line

Bib pick up was the quickest and easiest I have ever encountered.  There were two wonderful women whom I gave my name to, they crossed me off the list, gave me my number and my t-shirt.  111 has to be a lucky number right?

number

I went back up to my car to put my t-shirt away, get my bib attached and relax for a bit before I headed back down towards the start of the race.  At around 8:35 a.m. I went back down to the start, used the bathroom (score for real bathrooms, not port-a-potties) and then mingled with some of the other runners, they were all really nice, and of course, I took a selfie near the start flags! 🙂

before the start

As I was looking around, I noticed a lot of people spraying bug spray.  That is the ONE thing I didn’t think to bring with me, rookie move!  Thankfully, they had a communal bug spray for those of us who didn’t bring our own, and for that, I am eternally grateful because even with using their bug spray, I have about 20 mosquito bites all over my body, including right on my ankle, which is the worst of them all!

Anyways, I digress.  So about 5 minutes before the start we all headed over to the starting line and people began to line up.  You could automatically pick out the die hard trail runners, those who literally lined up toeing the starting line and just looked hard core about the race.  I seeded myself towards the back right while I got my Garmin powered up, found my satellites and waited patiently.  The race director gave us some directions as there were two courses, one for the 8k and one for the 10k, we listened to all the directions, then the national anthem started and before I knew it, I heard the sound of the air horn and we were off.

We all took off running towards the finish line, going up a fire road near the parking lot.  At this point, the crowds were thick as people were settling into their paces.  I wanted to start off at a comfortable pace since I had no idea what to expect.  We quickly were going up the first of WAY too many hills and took a sharp left halfway up.  We continued down to what is called Coffeehouse Loop.  I heard the first mile of my Garmin beep but I missed my split time because I was too busy looking down at the ground.  The course so far was very rocky, there were a lot of tree roots and everything was slick with the rain that barreled down earlier in the morning.  However, while the weather cleared up thankfully, I quickly realized I made two mistakes.  The first of which was since we had rain, even though it was fairly cool out at the start, it was really humid and I got hot FAST.  I pulled up my sleeves as best I could and reminded myself that the race wasn’t THAT long.  Famous last words, right?

So, moving on….we took a right to stay on Coffeehouse Loop/Midstate trail.  We came across a single track in the woods that had some rock gardens and thin wooden bridges.  I was enjoying the scenery as much as I could while trying to stay on my feet.  I slipped a few times, but luckily didn’t fall.  The course thinned out a bit and I noticed I was pretty far up front which was a nice little confidence booster.   I knew a few of the people who were running the 8k because our bibs were red instead of black, and up until this point, I hadn’t seen any of them on the course once we started.  At this point,  we had hit quite a few hills and my breathing began to suffer.  While I have had sports induced asthma for as long as I can remember, I have had it under control throughout  my adulthood.  However, I think given the humid conditions and running on a terrain I wasn’t accustomed too, I couldn’t get my breathing under control.  I stopped to catch my breath for a few seconds and then continued on.  I crossed over  the Trunkline Trail and continued up ANOTHER hill on Midstate.  Now I typically don’t mind hills, but seriously, these were TOUGH, probably because they were not only steep but I had to make sure I didn’t fall over slippery rocks and had to side step more piles than I’d like to count of horse s**t!  Seriously, it was EVERYWHERE!

I heard my second mile beep and again missed the pace, but I assumed it was in the very low 9’s or high 8’s given my horrible incredible math skills!  At this point I realized my second mistake…I should have brought my handheld water bottle because I was seriously thirsty.  I don’t usually take any fluids when I run less than an hour, but my mouth felt like a bag of cotton balls, likely from all the heavy panting I was doing.  Thankfully, I took a sharp left (up another freaking hill) and saw the only aid course on the station.  I may have had a small tear in my eye when I saw that.  I stopped to catch my breath and grabbed a small cup of Gatorade and savored every last drop. I wanted to take another one, but people were passing me and my competitiveness got the better of me.  At this water station, the 11k runners went left and the 8k runners went right.  So I veered to the right and enjoyed a small decline before taking a left onto another trail.  At this point, I was really hurting in the breathing department.  We hit a fairly flat straight away of dirt for what I’d estimate was 1/2 mile which was great but I felt like my legs were really heavy.  I had to stop a few times to catch my breath and walked for a few seconds.  Once I started up again, I took a left onto Trunkline and took the Coffeehouse Loop back along the edge of the parking lot back to the fire road.  At some point around here my Garmin beeped for the 4th mile and I was thankful it was almost over so I could finally stop and really catch my breath.  A few male runners passed me and we both told each other good job and they flew by.  I stopped one final time once we passed the parking lot and hit the fire road that would lead us to the finish line.  I saw a big hill in front of me and cursed under my breath.

At this point, a super speedy guy (who I later found out got 2nd in the 11k) was passing me by and patted me on the shoulder, looked me in the eye and told me to push through and I was almost there.  That was what I needed to hear in that moment, as I questioned my sanity for thinking I could do this race, on this terrain.  I dug deep and pushed up that hill as fast as I could in that moment and crested the hill and saw the finish line.  I flew down the hill and crossed the finish line, so thankful I was done.

I stopped my Garmin, 4.81 miles in 43:42, an average pace of 9:05.

garmin time

I really don’t know how that  pace was even possible since I felt like after mile 1 I was struggling for every breath and step.  A nice volunteer gave me my medal and told me I looked strong as I finished.

medal

I thanked her and  I quickly made my way down towards the pavilion that was set up and grabbed a mini-bottle of Gatorade and talked with a few other runners who had finished.  They were all super, super nice and it was fun to listen to their thoughts on the course as well (they all thought it was really hill and tough too!) After about 15 minutes, I made my way back to my car because I had to get home and shower so Robyn and I could take Ashton to his swim lessons.

Here is my post race photo! Still smiling which is always a good sign 🙂
post race

Overall, the race, while small was really well-organized.  The packet pick up was super easy and fast, the course was really well-marked with flags, tree markings and volunteers out on the course to ensure you were heading in the correct direction and the course was really beautiful, albeit hilly.

On the way home, I kept replaying the race back in my head.  I did a few things I wouldn’t make the mistake of doing again, like wearing a long sleeve shirt, not bringing bug spray and not having my handheld bottle with me.  Also, I really need to work more on my rhythmic breathing, I haven’t felt winded running like that in years (with the exception of speed work on the track), and at times it felt a little scary, especially being out in the woods, when most of the time, I was running alone with no one else in sight.  I also went through mentally just how different running on that terrain is than on the road.  For example, I totally zone out when I run on pavement or the treadmill, you absolutely CANNOT do that on the trails, you have to watch every single step you take while watching out ahead of you to see what is coming.  For me, that was probably one of the most difficult things.   They also didn’t allow headphones for this race, another first for me. I have never raced without my music, did that make a difference, maybe?  I don’t really know but I did find myself singing certain songs to myself while I was running to keep me distracted.  I know the point for many to trail running is being out in nature and enjoying the scenery, and of course, I love that too, but I don’t think having a little bit of music would have hurt either.

Anyways, after I got home, I quickly hopped in the shower and got dressed so we could get Ashton to his swim lessons and in the car I was checking my email (don’t worry, I wasn’t driving!) and I got an email from the race saying all the times were posted and they had a screen shot of the winners in each division and overall.  I quickly looked as I was curious as to how fast the winners were able to make it through the course and I was SHOCKED into silence (a rare occasion over here!)

wallum lake final times Not only did I just finish my first trail race (and run), but I placed in my first race and not just placed but got FIRST place in the Women’s open division.  HOLY CRAP!!  To say I was stunned is an understatement.  I didn’t think my time, especially given how much I had to walk would have given me an opportunity to place anywhere in the race.  While it was a small race (I think about 70 or so people) I was still really shocked.  I live in an area where the runners are fast, like SERIOUSLY fast, so the thought of ever placing in a race was non-existent.  Well, after seeing the results, I start thinking, well, the overall winner was only a little over 2 minutes faster, maybe if I hadn’t stopped to catch my breath and walk so much I could have beaten her.  Crazy thinking I know, but that competitive part gets the better of me sometimes! HA!

Well folks, that’s my recap of my very first trail race.  This race was #1 in a series of 3 races in my area and if my schedule allows, I would really like to do the other 2 races, but I really need to get running on the trails for practice, since clearly, I am not conditioned to run on the trails right now.  Overall, I am really happy I did something that has been on my running bucket list for a while, and even though it was SUPER hard, I am really glad I did it, pushed through and finished strong.

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Question of the day

Have you ever done any trail running?  Have you ever placed in a race?  Tell me about it!

First post race run

Following my half marathon on Sunday, I cross trained by biking for the past 3 days.  Today, I decided I was going to give running a try.  In my head, I was expecting my legs to revolt, so my expectations were low.  I knew I was going to run on the treadmill because it was just too cold for me this morning and I haven’t been able to swallow without discomfort for a few days.  I was hoping to get 2 miles in and then I would bike, but something magical happened….one mile passed with no pain, then two, then three…I ended up deciding not to push my luck and stopped at 4.33 miles.  I finished in 35:48, which included a warm up and cool down, not too shabby!  And this is exactly how I felt…nail a workout

I had NO tightness or pain while running!!  I don’t know if it is because I allowed my body to recover over the past 3 days, if it was all the foam rolling, icing and stretching I have done, a combo of all of the above, or just luck, but I will take it!  I needed a run like this this morning.  My work has been insane, I worked until 10 p.m. last night and that is a long day considering I leave my house by 5:30 a.m. everyday.  Right now, I am smack in the middle of my busiest time of the year and I have been very stressed, so to be able to get all my stress and anxiety out before I walk into the office just makes me able to do my job with a smile.  I cannot begin to tell you the high I am still on right now as I sit here writing this post!  I hope you have a wonderful Thursday, only one more day until the weekend!

 

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Question of the day

Have you felt like the little boy in that picture above recently?