|One of the hills along the trail|
I arrived around 8 am, grabbed my bib, and used the park's indoor bathroom. (Shirts were extra. They were really nice, but I don't need another shirt.) Alex wasn't with me so this was my first race by myself (hence, no glamour shots).
I won my registration a few days before and mapped the course. The elevation scared me: two massive uphills and a few other hills that would have been impressive on their own if they weren't surrounded by 100 foot inclines. Uh oh. Guess who hasn't been training on hills? I decided to take it easy. My goal was to finish faster than a Rocks and Roots trail 10k (1:16 - the terrain is rough and there are numerous turns) and not finish last. I achieved both of my goals, but it wasn't pretty.
At 8:35 a woman lead a yoga warm-up. I've performed roughly 20 minutes of yoga before, so when she started going through the positions rapidly, I panicked. The girls next to me knew what they were doing, so I could use them as a guide. I bumbled a bit, but I was able to keep up for the most part. I'm not sure I felt much from the stretches (since I was concentrating on the movements), but it was fun and I imagined attending free outdoor yoga classes without embarrassing myself.
Just before 9:00 there were a few announcements and the 10k folks lined up. The 10k course went one way– into the woods– and the 5k went another –out to a flat, paved trail. One of my favorite local sports reporters (and fellow OU alum) Matt Barnes was the MC. He also recorded a video (below) of the start. I'm in orange around :05. And be sure to listen for a bunch of yapping dogs.
4th annual @FLIPcancernow Darby Creek Trail Run was a success! Great event every year. pic.twitter.com/xvaN8nwbqS— Matt Barnes (@Matt_NBC4) August 15, 2015
I started quickly for a trail run. There was a steep downhill as we entered the woods and I knew we were going to have to climb it on the return to the finish. The first mile was fine. The trail was gravel and dirt, but much more solid than my previous trail runs on the Rocks and Roots. Because of this, I figured I could go fast. Maybe keep my miles under 10:00. Ha ha.
The first major hill was right after mile 1. I almost ran the whole thing but stopped near the top. I was beat and there was a lady running with three dogs behind me. She kept instructing them and they were breathing loudly. I just wanted them to pass. Since I was tired, I figured I'd walk a bit and let them go by. Here's where it was weird until mile 3: her dogs had to go to the bathroom and stop for water. So, while she was a faster runner, we kept passing one another. And for some reason she was the only person near me from 1.5 to 3. And she never once acknowledged my presence. :'(
|Course map and elevation|
The second water stop was at the top of a steep hill just before a meadow. I was dead. As soon as we crested the hill I walked, which put the dog runner ahead of me for good. Two guys passed me and I latched onto the second one and resumed running. He was maintaining a steady 10:20-10:30 pace and it felt fine. Maybe because the prairie was relatively flat. It was still hard to keep running and I was having all sorts of negative thoughts ("How am I going to run 6.55 fast next week?" "Why can I run 14 miles while talking at a 10:45 pace, but I can't run a 10k race?!" "What happened to my spring 10k PR??" etc)... but I kept trucking. I told myself I had to keep running until we looped back around to the water stop.
We looped past the water stop again (around 4.4 miles) and a girl popped out of the entrance to the meadow. She was going the wrong way and the water stop guys didn't know what to do. The course was pretty remote and with only two water stops and a few course marshals, you really could cut corners. She looked like she was in my age group, so of course I was mad she was ahead of me. ;) Anyway, I kept my eyes on the dude in front of me as we coasted down a steep hill.
Looking back it's really easy to see what I should have done (kept running), but at the time I was exhausted. I stopped to walk a smaller uphill at 5.15. My mark kept running. I heard a group of ladies approaching and I should have started running at the top of the hill, but I waited for them to pass (because for some reason I didn't want them to get mad at me for getting in their way?!? Dumb.). I latched onto their group after they went by and they ran a nice, steady pace. I could tell they were all in my age group. Ugh. And remember the first big descent we raced down at the beginning? Well, it was time to climb it. 100 feet never felt so terrible. Some of the girls walked ahead of me so I didn't feel so bad, but they started to pull away and then I was passed by a guy I'd passed at 3.5.
After that last giant hill I could hear the finish line. The route in was flat and paved so I kicked it into gear and picked up my pace. I didn't sprint by any means, but I had a respectable finish.
After the race
Once finished, I grabbed a banana and water and I was dizzy. I didn't sit down (afraid I wouldn't be able to get back up), so I wandered around for a while listening to the MC. I was definitely dehydrated. While we waited for everyone to finish the MC gave out raffle tickets for trivia questions. I earned two for finishing, five for filling out a survey, and three for signing a banner. I pity the person who has to read my survey. I was too tired to write legibly.
|Race swag: fan, sunblock, coupon, water bottle|
The after party was fun and the FLIP organizers were so cheery. Even though the course was killer, I'd run this race again. After we disbanded I went back into the woods for a mile walk, took some photos, then drove home.
Stats and Final Thoughts
Final Time: 1:04:08
Overall: 38/60 (63%)
Gender: 19/37 (51%)
Divison: 13/16 (81%)
Mile Splits: 9:46, 11:05, 10:10, 11:05, 10:49, 13:31
Ouch. I haven't had stats like this since last summer's Em City disaster. If I'd kept running that last mile... Oh well, it was free and ultimately I had fun. I made some friends and won a coupon for a free dinner by answering a trivia question (Q: Name an actor in Oceans 11. My A: Matt Damon. Linus is my favorite.)
Up Next: Emerald City Quarter next Sunday. A month ago I considered changing my registration to the half since I've been running high miles with my group on the weekends. Ha! For some reason I'm back to last year's mental block of wanting to walk, so I think I'll stick to the 6.55. Maybe it's the heat? I hope so. I also hope all of these tough races post-April mean super badassery in the fall.