"Eat my bark dust."
I have never had a chance to say that in a race, until Friday night at the Pre's Trail X Country Challenge.
Circumstances worked out that I had to be in Eugene Saturday morning to help my dad with a project. Of course, I started looking around for races in the area that day. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, but there were no Saturday 5ks to be found, so I opted for something close- a trail 6k.
The event was listed as a youth 3k, Mens and Women's Open 6k, and a Master's 5k. There were also team categories. Somewhere I missed that there would be many high-school age teams there.
The race was to take place on a bark path, with hay bales in a few spots to jump over. Having never participated in high school cross country or track, this sounded fun...and dangerous...and just a little out of my comfort zone as far as races go. A perfect workout race, as long as I could do it without tripping or twisting and ankle (my biggest fears about trail running, in general).
|Map of Pre's Trail Xcountry challenge 6k course, captured by my watch and listed in K's.|
After studying the map and warming up, I headed to the start. I was surrounded by high schoolers who did some team yells. There were a couple of faces I recognized. There were a few teenage girls who could run me into the ground, and I heard one of them mention that she had been on a vacation for three weeks, that she wasn't really racing. Last race I had seen her at was a 5k that she won in April. It made me even more curious about how many girls of her caliber might be there..the sub 18 5k type. :) I am happy to find some faster runners. I want someone to help push me.
We took off with the gun and I can say that MANY runners went out fast! So many that I had to fall in somewhere to get into the narrow trail. There was much jostling around for position and we turned a hairpin corner and headed over our first hay bale.
Some runners wore spikes, but most just wore whatever their normal shoes were. I wore my Brooks Pure Connects, on the trail which was mostly dry bark and some gravel. I would have liked a pair of spikes or a pair of Pure Grits to wear, but at the last minute for a race these worked fine. (They are my favorite road speed shoe to date.)
We coursed around the park and navigated to the second loop, which was really a lollipop we had to do twice. During this time, I brushed by the male leaders and the first female running the opposite direction. The warm afternoon wind was swirling bark dust into our faces. I was having fun and kicking up dust with teenagers!
The course was narrow and there was a lot of passing. A group of teens, including two girls and a few guys, passed me...in a minute or two I passed them. Then they passed me again. One of the girls in the group, Gracie, cheered for me. When she passed me I cheered for her- and told her I was wondering when she was going to start running. We see-sawed like this several times. A few words of politeness exchanged.
There was confusion when we tried to go around the small loop the second time. Some people were unclear about whether it was to include the lollipop "handle" or just the loop. Everyone I saw ran the handle too, thanks to a course marshal/coach looking guy.
A few more hay bales and a few more yo-yoing passes with the teen group and were were within sight of the finish line. I kicked as much as I had in reserve from about 150m out - feeling pretty anaerobic for that, and tried, TRIED to catch the teen group who decided to be "on" just enough to get a lead on me at the end. I didn't make it, but I came pretty close.
On paper I was the second female in the overall category, but that is not how I view it. At least 3 females finished ahead of me. The stats for all of the high school runners did not list times- only places. Also, it turns out that Gracie (and the teen group who I was yo-yoing with) was running a fartlek session. Ha!
I am pretty sure I overran the course, with all the moving for positions. But it might have been a little long. Trail races are always supposed to be too long or too short, aren't they?. I wasn't doing this for time, anyway, right?
Six K is an odd distance, but it will be fun to do this race again next year. And I'll be sure to enter 2 of my boys in the 3k, since the youth running it appeared to be having a fantastic time.
It was the best fun I have had NOT winning in a long time!
Again- I am so grateful to be running and SO blessed to have a chance to race in places like this. Thanks to my Mom and Dad for keeping the boys busy while I got in my fun. Love you guys!
Stats for those interested:
Officially 6k 25:04= 6:44 pace :)