Had I known how long I would spend rehabbing and rebuilding from a running injury, I might have made a certain 26.2 mile training run in February count a little more.
Yesterday I pinned on a bib for the first time in 50 weeks and headed to a local race, called "Autumn Trails".
My favorite shoes right now- Brooks PureGrit2
It's been refreshing. My body likes it.
I arrived early, after eating a PB with Honey and coffee, and registered (with some deliberation) for the 10 miler. (The other choices were 3.5 miles, 6 miles, and 16 miles.) Given the nature of trails, this was an approximation. We were advised to bring copies of the trail map. Luckily I had practiced this trail 3 or 4 times in the last several weeks, so I had a general idea of where to run and where to turn around.
My race goals were (in no particular order) :
- smileI wore my fuel belt with water, which leaks ALL over the place and needs to be replaced.
- pay attention to my foot and run accordingly, run my own race
- ignore my pace and try to keep a moderate-high heart rate as much as possible
- NOT trip
The start times were staggered, but at 10:05 the 10 milers left and took a loop around a flat bark path, which made a great warm-up. Before long, runners spread out and we all headed up to the Ridgeline trail.
The next few miles were a steady uphill climb with several switchbacks. I could see that there were at least 2 women ahead of me, but I had no way to tell for sure until we reached a turning point. My arm warmers came off right after crossing Fox Hollow road.
We didn't have a downhill until about mile 3. But it's hard to say how far we had gone exactly. My map distances are most likely off in a few places, since we probably lost our GPS signals in the dense tree cover. In any case, I could only smile when my Garmin beeped with an 11 something mile.
I'm throwing this in just for kicks, but the elevations and distances are most likely off here and there.
I trucked along a steep downhill, with many tight corners, to the farthest turn around (near mile 4), and saw that there appeared to be only one other woman in front of me racing the 10 miler. I circled round the water station, but didn't stop since I had my own- then I headed back up the hill for more fun.
Through all of this, my foot felt great. I was not in aerobic agony, but feeling tempo-ish, with legs a bit on the rubbery side here and there.
It was clear the leading female was a strong uphill runner.
Strategy started to enter my thoughts a bit, and I reckoned that maybe I could catch her on the downhill-- which we had a lot of coming up. Once we crested the highest point on the route- somewhere after mile 5- it would be almost all downhill (or in my mind it was).
The last three miles of the race were very exciting. I started to catch up with the leader, and actually was on her heels after the Dillard turnaround. This hairpin was tight, and the top 3 ladies all got a good look at each other passing on the single track. Here I discovered another woman was catching up with us both.
As we headed back towards Fox Hollow rd., it was uphill mostly. I reasoned with myself that I could let the leader get ahead a bit because I could catch her on the downhill. That was a mistake. She had more in the tank than I thought she did, and she knew she had 2 other ladies on her heels.
My mind was focused on a few different things now:
-light feet with fast turnover (egg beaters),She definitely was aware that I was there.
-don't let yourself relax,
-don't slip or trip,
-and when you get to stable/flat ground GUN it.
As we switched to a flat trail at Martin street I gave all I had left. I didn't have enough time to pull in ahead of her at that point, so we finished 2 seconds off of each other.. Interestingly, the third female had also tried to catch us. Her finish time was the same as mine. I had NO idea how close she had gotten in the last mile!
After the race, I stayed to visit with some other racers: Lauren, who just recently ran the Chicago Marathon and some friends who live in Roseburg and raced the Grape Crusher (road race) the day before. I also had some time to visit with the 1st and 3rd female and get to know them properly. :) Both very nice ladies!
There were some fantastic post-race foods! Qdoba catered, and Muscle Milk, water or beer were there for racers.
There were good aid stations set up at each race junction with water and gels.
Course marshals were out, but one was not at a critical junction for the 16 mile racers, so many of them missed a leg they were supposed to run. I like how the race director handled it though! He quickly determined among the racers who were finishing the16 if they had taken the leg that went behind the butte. If not, he put them in a new category all their own, for "13 milers". Then he assigned awards for those people separate from the 16 milers. It was all very organized and classy- a good solution since no one intended to miss their turn.
Official stats say I ran the 10 miles in 1:19:58~ An 8:00/mile pace.
I won't worry too much about that.
It felt good to get in a workout. :)
One last thing..
The photographer did an excellent job, but I need to learn how to take better race photos. Not a single photo of me with a smile!!
Next time I will remember to stop for at least one good one.