Last year this race was my first trail race. The conditions were afterward deemed as hypothermia inducing. It rained and with temperature in the low 40’s I was shivering within minutes of finishing the race. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to race it again.
Truth is I really wanted to run the Dupont State Forest Half Marathon this year, but it’s the same day as the Marathon. So not an option unfortunately. I also signed up for the 12k because my husband was supposed to run it with me. But he backed out because he didn’t have enough time to train. I’m so glad I did. I had a blast.
This spring has been unseasonably warm, so while there were risks of rain, I knew that at least I wouldn’t freeze. We got to Guion Farm with dark clouds above us and a light rain which turned into a downpour just before the race. I waited in the car until it eased off to go pick up my race bib and shirt. I warmed up and hid in the bushes to pee (no patience to wait at the porta potties) But as the minutes went by the dark clouds moved and more and more blue sky came. Right before the start of the race all the runners clapped as the sun made it through. We didn’t see an other drop of rain for the rest of the race! Yeah!
235 runners were here this year. That’s more than last year. We tried to listen to the speech but I frankly couldn’t hear a thing. The race finally started in the brilliant sun and puddles. Oh yes because puddles there were. At least I learned something from last year: fear no muddy water! Last year I remember being careful in the beginning, avoiding the water. However by the end it was running anyway and I did not care where my feet landed. So I took that approach right from the beginning. Probably a good thing because less than a mile into the race, still in the middle of the pack and with no visibility my foot landed in a giant one. I also felt some good splashes coming from my fellow runners. This would not be a clean race and I was okay with that.
I settled into my pace and slowly started passing some people. Uphills are really becoming my strength and that’s when I passed the most. One strong female passed me though, I never saw her again. I made small goals throughout the race to reach some runners ahead. The double-track were easy, the single-track required a little more energy but were also fun.
I left my bottle in the car so I was glad to swallow a little water at the one water station. It wasn’t much because I have never practiced drinking while running but it was good enough. Over the last few miles a guy used me as his pacer. I could hear him breathe right behind me. As we hit the downhill, I turned back and joked that I was starting to feel like I was being followed. He answered that he was trying to keep up. Yeah right, he passed me right after that and finished a few minutes ahead of me! Who was keeping up with who?
The last person I passed was a FiveFinger dude who had run really strong until there. However I don’t think he expected the last hill. Last year that hill kicked my butt. I was not going to let that happen this year and just went for it. The guy told me to go get my medal. I laughed, thinking there were plenty of girls ahead of me and told him that I didn’t know if I would get one but it didn’t matter because I was running my own race.
I came up to the finish line. I was a little disappointed to see it was just passed the hour mark. Somehow I had decided it would be great to finish under an hour. Not sure why I picked that, I wasn’t even really trying for it as hard as I could. But whatever I still finished in 1:00:58. That’s an 8:10 pace over 7.4 miles on trail. So my disappointment didn’t last long, I still beat last year’s time by almost 10 minutes! Can’t say I didn’t progress in a year 🙂
I am kind of surprised looking at the picture. I usually don’t lift my feet that much of the ground. Or at least I thought so. I may need to watch my form on the trails a little more. Unless it had to do with lifting my feet from the mud…
It turns out that I had double reasons to be happy. All the girls in front of me, mostly Jus’Running girls actually, well they were not my age. Because I managed to get 1st place of my age group. No medals, but even better, I got a pair of running socks. I also love this year’s shirt although it’s as usual WAY too big for me. Women sizes wouldn’t hurt… In any case I quickly changed after the race and waited for the awards.
The first guy finished 44:05!!! The first female in 53:55.
Gear: Saucony Xodus 2.0, Lululemon skirt, Brooks shirt.
PS: Can you spot me in a picture from a fellow local runner? Hint: it was after I changed clothes.