|Photo by Fleet Feet Columbus|
Prior to Tuesday, September 15 (two days before the race) I had never run on an actual trail. I've hiked lots of trails - flat and mountainous - but I've never run on one. A couple months ago I saw a photo on Women's Running and thought, "I've got to get into that." It seemed like a perfect combination of running and being outdoorsy– two of my favorite things. (Add in an audiobook and I'd be in heaven.) Then the soul-crushing Emerald City Half obliterated my love of running and I didn't sign up for much of anything. For a week, anyway.
I signed up for the Summer Squatch the day before the final price hike. $45 still seems like a lot for a 10k, but it felt like an "experience." And let's get this out of the way: I signed up for the race because of the awesome medal.
|So cool | Photo by Fleet Feet Columbus|
I eventually ran on a gravel path (easy) Monday before the race and followed it up with an honest to goodness trail run on Tuesday. But only 2.5 miles because the trail ran out. I was ready (ha). Inside I just kept telling myself, "just don't finish last." (My rule in cross country. What can I say? I'm still too lazy to actually train.)
|My hilliest course, to date|
We arrived after sitting in rush hour traffic. Good times! (I don't know how anyone works downtown and lives in Powell. How do you get home everyday without going crazy?) We arrived to find a few things: the park bathroom was not open (I used the woods. They eventually brought porta-potties), the size small shirt was gigantic (but still very cool. I have since used it as PJs.), and - ohmigod -everyone looked like trail pros. I had my headlamp and water bottle, but you could tell this group knew how to handle a trail.
|We're off! | Photo by Fleet Feet Columbus|
I kept myself to the back and let the pros hurry forward. The first 3/4 mile was on relatively flat grass with a few gulches and one water crossing that took a girl down. She immediately got back up, threw her arms in the air, and screamed, "woooooooo!!" before continuing on. Impressive. I latched on to a woman wearing a Warrior Dash t-shirt and a camelback. She was going at an easy pace and I knew I had a lot of trail ahead.
Almost as soon as we crossed into the woods there was a steep downhill. We're taking hold-on-to-the-trees-as-you-go-down steep. A guy stopped to take a photo of it. Immediately after was a steep uphill. The ladies in front of me walked, so I walked. I was taking my cues from the pros.
Around mile 1 some of the ladies got confused and tried to turn before they were supposed to. It was the only mishap on the trail and the race volunteers set them straight, but not before I passed the group. My beacons were gone, but I soon latched on to two very chatty ladies up ahead. By this point the field was starting to spread out and they were the only two runners I could see, so my expert plan became stay with them!
|Typical trail view|
Every time I passed a mile marker I felt equal parts relief and disbelief. One more down, but it feels like I've run twice as far! Even though I was extremely tired and SO HUNGRY (chews did not cut it on the trail), I was having so much more fun than I had during my two half marathons. I knew I'd do it again.
I knew there were at least 5 people behind me based on the folks I'd passed. We stayed for a while after, but as it got darker and darker, I got hungrier and hungrier, so we left before the entire field was finished. The next day, someone asked how I'd done, so I looked up my results.
When I see those results I'm pretty happy. And I think about the following: I finished before more than one person! I was 50% for females! This was my first trail 10k. EVER! I did so much better than anticipated. And, ugh, guys are naturally so much faster and stronger. Not fair. ;) This was a field dominated by trail runners -some who helped build the trail and have been on it for months - and I held my own.
|Alex's photo from the finish line|
Alex thought it looked fun and even though a 10k is his absolute distance maximum, he wants to sign up for trail races now. We're looking into the two race Rock and Roots Trail Running series this winter. Should be interesting!
Beyond that, I have another half marathon (yikes) on October 19 in Loveland, Ohio and Alex and I will be running the Hot Chocolate Run (he the 5k, me the 15k) on November 16. We're also planning to run a few holiday runs and 5Ks. Gotta love the cooler weather!
My Running goals for the end of 2014
Run a 5K at a sub-9 minute mile pace. Even 8:59 will do.
Run the next half marathon in a respectable time. Ideally, faster than Cap City, but at least faster than Emerald City!
Run more trail races