Saturday, January 12, 2013

iBelieve 10k Trail Run Race Report

As you can tell, this crazy single female tried quite a few new things this year: road racing, cyclo-cross, and the latest being trail running. This past fall, I was, to use my high school student’s phrasing, “talking to” a guy who was an endurance trail runner. So, of course, on our first date, we opted to go on a trail run, and I have to admit: I absolutely loved it! My love for trail running has lasted longer than that particular relationship, especially as I have been gearing up to run my first half trail marathon at Run for Regis.

I feel like a little back story is necessary here. I ran my first marathon February 11, 2007 in Birmingham, Alabama. I trained for that race with a wonderful running group, particularly with a friend CL. CL has children my age, but despite a generation gap, we became very close through the training. There is a certain closeness that training partners develop, and there was no doubt that we helped each other out through the highs and lows both in training and in life. The four months that I trained for that race were the best running days I had ever experienced. I absolutely loved the power, strength, and confidence it gave me and then sadly, I was hit by a car less than two months later. I am not going to go through all the highs and lows of the accident, but the broken toe that I suffered created problems with my running gate and eventually led to problems in my hips that still require a great deal of attention. I recall one run in general, right after breaking up with the guy of the month, where I broke down, started sobbing on a run with CL and our close friend AV because I was just emotionally and physically broken. Although I have had some excellent running races after the accident, running had definitely lost its luster.

With that said, it amazes me how I find myself enjoying running again and am grateful to that guy for finding that in me once again.

Now...back to the race report:

Pre-race: I have discovered that if I eat my breakfast as soon as I wake up, I am more inclined to have a more agreeable stomach while I am running.  They had also sent out an email mentioning the limited parking so I got to the race about an hour before the race start so I wouldn’t have a long walk before or after the race.  I picked up my packet, went to the bathroom, then proceeded to sit in my car until about 5 minutes before the race started.  It just felt too cold to stand outside and wait.  I got out, went to the bathroom one more time, then got to my starting place.  I chatted with the guy next to me, also doing the 10k, wished him luck, and thought to myself: it’s quite possible I will get dead last in this race.  Let me explain my reasoning:

1. I believe that 90% of the people were doing the 5k, meaning the 10k was a pretty small field.
2. It was a trail run, not a road race.  In my thinking, trail running isn’t really for the casual runner, so all the other women were likely actual trail runners.
3. It was pretty muddy, and I had no trail shoes.

Race: The race started, and I started making my way through the field, the first quarter mile was on road.  I got to the trail, and it was wet and muddy from the get-go, and I started slipping and sliding.  This course lacked two big things: elevation and traction…and it kind of reminded me of a cross race.  Anyone know what a Proustian moment is?  Well, slipping in the mud was my version of the Proustian madelines, and I was instantaneously racing like I would a cross race and not like I would a running race.  (If Mrs. Korosa happens to read this blog post, I almost wrote macaroons instead of madelines, throwing in a little Ibsen in there, thought you might appreciate that little slip).  Anyway, I was completely focused on picking the line that appeared to have the best traction, chasing down the people ahead of me, and feeling that z5, all-out race effort.

I also noticed a friend of a friend out there taking photos.  As I passed her, I tried to explain who I was, but I figured that it was probably a waste of energy.  I had worn what I thought was an appropriate amount of clothes, but I was pretty warm, ended up unzipping my jacket and wishing that I had worn shorts rather than tights, oh well.

I passed several people on the first loop, made it back to the turn-around and noticed that there was only one woman ahead of me…but then, my stomach decided it was a little upset, requiring a stop in the POP.  It was a waste of a couple of minutes, and I suddenly realized that my stomach was still pretty upset.  After about a half mile, I had to walk to try to calm down my stomach.  In those moments of walking, another woman passed me.  I started thinking about how the race would play out if I continued to let my stomach control my pace, and in a Jens Voigt-like moment, I said to myself, “Shut up stomach, I am not losing because of you.”  I had a flashback of some of the bigger races in which my stomach screwed me over (IM Wisconsin) and opted to keep pushing.  It didn’t take long, I quickly re-passed the lady who had passed me in my low moment, and I refocused by attention to the person about a hundred yards ahead of me.  It took me about two miles to make up those 100 yards, but I finally caught the person and was kind of surprised to see that it was a guy.  I don’t know why, I knew there was only one woman ahead of me, but he and I started to talk as we had about a half mile left in the race, I had clearly spent way too much energy trying to catch him, and he was hurting just about as bad from trying to hard to fend me off.  As we neared the chute, he let me go ahead, and I finished the race in 1:00:12.

After finishing the race, I felt about as spent as I usually do after a cross race and about as equally thirsty.  A lady came over to me and said that I was the 1st overall female, “HUH???”  I could have sworn there was a female ahead of me…and let’s face it, I don’t win running races.  I took the ceremic ornament and was through the roof excited.  Maybe the woman went off course?  Maybe the woman hadn’t registered?  Kept running?  I don’t know…but then the results came out a week later, and I was indeed 2nd overall.  I was a little embarrassed, but 2nd overall is still way better than the dead last expectation that I had set for myself.  As I have said from the getgo, there obviously weren’t that many serious trail runners at this first year event, but you can only compete against those who show up.  I should also say, though, that I have never raced a running race before.  I have never chased people down and never thought about the efficiency of my cadence and of picking the right line.  As much as I don’t particularly enjoy cyclo-cross, I can thank it for this race result.

Thankfully, I have done a few runs with Janet E and her crew in the last few weeks to keep my ego in check.

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