As some of you may know, one of my big running goals this year is to run one race a month. In the summer months in Florida, races are few and far between (for good reason!). Not only was I looking for a race, I really wanted to be able to update my 10k for corral placement at my runDisney races this winter since my last 10k was Thanksgiving and I’ve sped up significantly since then.
So, I was very excited to find a local 10k, the Fit2Run Cross Country Twilight 5k/10k. I was able to sign up in the local Fit2Run store so I could bypass the evil Active fees (yes I can’t stand Active and choose to bypass them whenever I can) and went and picked my packet up this past Monday at the same store. I often choose the “no race shirt” option when I register for a race because:
- I have too many t-shirts already;
- Race shirts often fit awfully unless they are gender specific; and
- Race shirts can be really ugly.
I decided to get the shirt this time because I thought it had a good chance of being awesome. I mean, twilight and trail run, right, there are so many gorgeous colors and logos possible with that theme. Instead, here’s what I picked up:
Orange and black really? I feel like a convict on road trash pickup duty. And I’m never a fan of shirts/medals that have the “running people” on them for some reason, just a personal preference I guess. I felt like they had so many great design options available.
The bag did have some good swag in it with gels and powerbars and the bag itself was a big nice reusable cloth bag which was great. And the pickup went very smoothly, even if it did require a trip to the dreaded mall.
Fast forward to Friday: I learned during my Expedition Everest 5k/scavenger hunt that being active the day of a night run is a bad idea for me, resulting in legs that feel like lead, so I spent the day taking it easy. I don’t work Fridays, so Eli and I watched TV and cleaned out my overflowing dresser drawers, sorting, washing and getting bags ready for goodwill (and throwing out 14 year old underwear and totally worn out nursing bras).
Around 10am it started raining. And at noon the thunderstorms rolled in. I thought, great it will cool things off and then dry out before the race. Well, at 3 it was still raining with some thunder rumbles. I checked the race Facebook site and they posted that the race was on rain or shine (the update was much appreciated!), so I started getting ready. I decided to wear one of my new SparkleTech running skirts:
It was still raining steadily on my drive out to the race site. We had to park about half a mile or so from the race site and cross a really busy road (Newberry) to get there.
The rain had decreased to a sprinkle by the time I started walking. Once I got to the race site, I noticed just how muddy it was:
That’s just a sample of what the ground was like. Remember, this was a trail run, so hours of rain plus trails equals:
The race staging area had a lot of sponsors with booths set up giving away great swag. Our local credit union (Campus USA) was giving away sunflower seeds and great post race kits with tylenol, mints, bandaids and wet wipes. They also had a local moving company bring in a truck to do a bag check which is unusual for a local race and was much appreciated, especially since our cars were half a mile away. There was a table set up with bug spray and they had lots of free water and bananas for pre race fueling/hydrating.
I made two portapotty trips before the race started. I experimented with NUUN the day of the race and may have overhydrated a little bit because I really could have used one more trip before the race started. They had the kids races first and they were adorable:
You can see from this photo how most of the course was just a 5-6 foot wide mowed swath of grass interspersed with muddy sludge and mud puddles.
The race start was a little chaotic as they started the 5k and 10k runners together in one big group so the first mile was really crowded as everyone settled into their pace and spread out a little bit. It probably would have been less painful if it hadn’t been so wet, but there was a lot of slowing down for puddles and swerving around mud boggy areas. Still, I didn’t see anyone fall or get hurt so everything worked out ok. My first mile was a lot slower than I would have liked but that probably was for the best as you will soon see.
In many of my training runs, I do part of my runs on trails or in parks on grass, but it only makes up maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of my runs. I really didn’t realize how much harder it is to run at a fast pace on soft, uneven ground for such a long time. So, even after we spread out and there was room to run, I was finding that a slower pace felt harder than it should have.
In addition to the challenge of running on a soft/uneven surface, this course was much hillier than I’m used to. My short runs generally have almost no elevation at all and my long runs only have one or two hills. This course was very hilly for our area and I wasn’t mentally prepared for that.
I’m not going to lie, it was tough and I wanted to quit. Repeatedly. I was coated in mud from the knee down. I had to slog through mud and water. It was hot (75) and humid (89%). The rain that had created the mess had the audacity to stop right when it would have been refreshing. I love running in a downpour, but it gradually changed from a sprinkle to a drizzle to just stopping during the race.
For the 10k, you run the 5k route twice. It was really hard not to veer off at the 5k point and to start the whole course again. I really wanted to quit. Or at least to slow down to a walk. But I reminded myself:
|Image credit: Cafe Press|
and I kept running. Up the hills, through the mud, until I finished. Once we split off for the 10k, the crowds lessened greatly and I was just running with a few other runners who were all doing a great job encouraging each other. The official race results aren’t up yet, but my Garmin tells me I finished in 1:01:37. I was hoping for a sub one hour 10k, but I’d kind of accepted that it was unlikely for this one, so I’m pretty happy with the results. I was six minutes faster than my last 10k race.
My pace drops are the water stops since I cannot drink from a cup while I’m running. I just lack that basic coordination. You can see the elevation gains which may look small to runners in hilly areas, but my normal runs are so flat that this was kind of brutal.
After the race, they had hamburgers and hotdogs and sweet tea. I usually don’t let myself have sweet tea but it was a great post-run treat! I stayed for the awards and although my time would have gotten one in a few age groups, I didn’t for mine. I have to admit that was disappointing but I am going to use it as motivation to drop this last stinking stubborn 30 pounds. I guarantee that I can run much faster at a lower weight, so if I want to get faster that’s the first step.
Here are my muddy legs and shoes:
And my sweaty post race picture:
I’m not sure if I’ll run this one again next year. It was a pretty course, but an evening trail run in August is not a whole lot of fun. I suspect if it hadn’t rained I’d be complaining about how stinking hot it was so it may be a no win situation. It was a very well organized, planned and managed race, probably one of the best I’ve done locally.
I’m glad I did it and it reminded me of one of the things I really love about running. It isn’t just about physical training. Distance running toughens more than your muscles and tendons, it toughens your mental fortitude and your willpower. Pushing yourself even when it hurts and all you want to do is quit strengthens you in a way that is hard to describe.
So, even though I didn’t get my goal pace and I didn’t get a top three medal for my age group, I’m still proud of myself and glad I did it. And I’m even more glad that it’s done!