After talking and talking about it for the past 8 months, I finally did it.
I ran a trail race!
The race was originally a 5k(ish) distance. However, the day before the race, it was noted that a very tall fence (to keep deer out of the farm fields) was put up across part of the course. The course was changed for the better according to the race directors. More single track was added. One thing I learned rather quickly is that trail race distances are always ish, meaning that the distance is never right on. When that happens in a road race, people freak. Trails? Runners are very cool with it and happy for the added miles.
Bib pick up was an hour before the race started. I wasn’t too happy about the 10 a.m. start. It wasn’t a super warm day but it kind of throws a wrench in your weekend plans with a later start. I prefer earlier. The race was capped at 150 entrants so it was small. While we waited for the start, everyone was hanging out chit chatting. I was feeling nervous. I wasn’t sure how my foot was going to feel with the uneven terrain. It was also the unknown. I just wanted to start to run. Then I wouldn’t have to think about the “what ifs.”
A few minutes before 10, the race directors announced it was time to line up. The starting line was about a minute walk into the woods. For a first timer, it was weird to be hanging out in the woods, scrunched together with 150 people, waiting for the bullhorn to sound. We took off early (that never happens in a road race!). The start wasn’t as chaotic as I thought it would be. Yes, people were running off the trail to get to the front and pass but I never felt like I was going to be trampled. There was one man who was running with his dog or I should say his dog was pulling him. He had the dogs lead attached to his waist. The dog was on a mission and the owner wasn’t doing anything to hold him back. As a dog owner and lover, I have no problem letting someone run with their dog in a race BUT he should have started at the back and been more in control. (More on him later).
My Garmin had not picked up a satellite by the time we started so I was going to be running totally naked. No mile markers or clocks to let me know where I was. Ron was feeling good and took off like a bat out of hell. I tried to keep up with him at first but then realized that I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that pace the whole time especially since I knew there was a climb at the end. I did catch up with him at one point to say “What are you doing? Slow down! Pace yourself!”
Of course, he didn’t listen.
The trails were in good condition. There were a few muddy spots, downed trees to jump over and little bridges to cross. My ankle was put to the test on rocks and roots but felt awesome the whole time. I kept my eyes focused on the ground to make sure I didn’t fall flat on my face. Since I was running naked I had no concept of mileage or time. The field thinned out relatively quickly (I’d say within the first mile or so). At one point I came upon Ron walking. As I approached, I gave him a big ol’ slap on the butt and said “Get moving!”
Of course, he didn’t listen.
I’m sure he flipped me off or called me a few names as I ran by but he denies any of it.
The last half mile or so of the race was full of switchback climbing and descending. It was tough running and I was sucking wind going up. Once I reached the top of the hill I remember letting out quite a few loud audible sighs to get my breathing under control. I was all alone as I began the descent of more switchbacks. I took it conservatively for fear of twisting my ankle on the rocks and roots. I could hear people yelling and cheering at the finish line so I thought I was almost done. At one point in the descent, we had to climb again. What a cruel joke!
I finally reached the bottom of the hill, took a corner and was ready to run as fast as I could (without tripping) to the finish line. And then I immediately got stuck behind the man with the dog. They were taking up the whole trail with no way to get around. It was frustrating to say the least.
I crossed the finish line feeling great! I loved it! I can’t say that I love the short distance but the trails were awesome.
Ron came in a couple of minutes later. Not nearly as excited as I but still happy that he did it. He got a PDR (3.65 miles according to RunKeeper). Maybe I can turn him into a runner after all? Hahahaha.
Afterwards, there was a raffle for prizes from the races sponsors. I was surprised at the amount and type of prizes. Shoes, sunglasses, gift cards to a local running store and locally made beer were just a few. For only having 150 runners, there were at least 30 or more prizes.
Overall, I had a fabulous experience – from the race organization (Acidotic Racing) to the runners. I can definitely see myself doing more trail races. I’m on the lookout for my next one! As for Ron, I think he’s one and done. 😉
Trail or road? What’s your preference?