Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Second Race for August: Trail 15k

view of the SUPs as the trail circled the lake

Saturday I ran my first trail race and I bit off a bit more than I could chew by doing a 15k. That's 9.3 miles, in case you were wondering.

To say I have mixed feelings about this race would be an understatement.

It had good parts, but it definitely had bad parts, too.

Here's the rundown:
This was the first year for this race, and there was a very small field of runners. I didn't count, but I think there were only 15, maybe 20 people running. I think it was closer to 15, though.

As I mentioned before, it was my first trail run. Picking a long race for my first trail run wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.

I'm not very spatially aware- I can (and have, on many occasions) trip over nothing. Rocks and roots = trouble. The course was very hilly with lots of roots and rocks. So naturally, I turned my ankles multiple times.

Because I kept turning my ankles I almost quit before the third mile. A month before my half marathon is not the time to sprain or break an ankle, and there was a very real possibility of that happening. However, I realized that by the time I made it back to the start/finish area I wouldn't have that much further to go, so I kept at it and didn't quit. I just tried to be even more careful, though that got harder the farther I went. The tireder I got, the less I lifted my feet off the ground.

I finished last for the first time in my life. Other than when running the two mile in track, but that doesn't count because it's track, which can be soul-sucking, unlike running through forests and neighborhoods.

The next day I was so sore from the exertion (so many hills, trying to keep my balance- trail runners must have great core strength) and from all the ankle turns- I could feel those from my feet to my knees. My ankles are still feeling a bit stiff and sore today, but all the muscles and whatever else I strained are feeling better.

a look at the trail behind me

I actually really liked the course if you took out the hills and the roots and the rocks. 99.5% of the course was in the trees. It was so peaceful and gorgeous!

The weather was great too. It was 60 when we started and only got up to 70 by the time I finished. Combine that with all the shade under the trees, and it made for great running conditions.

Despite all the hills, I actually felt stronger going up the later hills than I had the hills at the beginning. I'm not sure if it was because my muscles had warmed up, or if they were remembering the hill work I'd done, or what. Even though the race finished on a slight incline I was able to finish strong and didn't feel completely spent.

I'm ok with finishing last. It was a very small field of runners, it was my first trail run, and it was a difficult course. Also, no one was behind me to see me fall flat on my face when I tripped on nothing. Literally. There was nothing in the trail, yet I managed to trip and fall. Luckily, that was a much better place to fall, since I landed on dirt instead of rocks and/or roots and I didn't get hurt. See- you can even find a silver lining when falling :)

I love running through the trees in parks. My favorite high school cross country courses involved treed parks, and trail running is reminiscent of those races. However, I'm really not sure about doing more trail runs. My lack of balance and tendency to trip makes it unsafe for me to repeat this race unless I can somehow improve my balance and stop tripping on everything. I was talking to another runner during the race and he mentioned a trail half that I've had on my race list for awhile, and he said that one was a lot flatter and easier. If I can find trail runs that take place on flat trails without lots of obstacles, I'm willing to give them a try.

and the trail in front of me

I'd initially hoped to finish in about 2 hours, but was on track to finish in about 2:15 or 2:20. This is the farthest I've run since the Disney half a year and a half ago and I wasn't sure how the trails would affect my pace, so I was guessing at what my pace would be. However, the race ended up being a bit short (8.5 miles instead of 9.3 according to my Garmin), and I finished in 2:06:58. There is a small chance my Garmin was off because of all the trees, but I don't think that was the issue. Either way, I was expecting to run longer than I did, so I hadn't used up all my energy and had a good surge at the end.

This is probably the longest run I'll do before the half on Sept 20, so it was supposed to be my dress rehearsal for the half. I kind of dropped the ball though. Friday night I was gathering my stuff and realized the shot bloks I had were out of date. Which makes sense since I hadn't bought any since the Disney World half marathon, a year and a half ago. Oops. One package was only a couple months out of date instead of more than a year out of date, so I used that. I didn't notice any problems, so bonus for me. I thought I used enough Body Glide, but I did end up with some friction in a few places, so I need to remember to lube up better, especially between my toes.

My big issue was my pre-race food. I had ice cream Friday evening, but I thought I'd eaten it early enough that it wouldn't be a problem. Dairy and I don't really get along right now, but it's hard to say no to Blue Bell Pecan Pralines and Cream. Good thing Blue Bell Spiced Pumpkin Pecan is out of season- SO yummy! Unfortunately, it still gave me problems.   -- [TMI ahead!] --    I woke up not feeling great, but managed to spend enough time on the toilet that at least that wouldn't be a problem during the race. My stomach still wasn't feeling great though. I managed to gag down some egg yolks and mashed sweet potatoes, and by the time the race started my stomach had calmed down. The egg yolks and sweet potatoes didn't come back to haunt me and even seemed to help me with my energy levels. Toast and peanut butter may have worked for pre-race fuel back in my pre-gluten free days, but it's just not an option these days. I'll probably repeat the egg yolks and sweet potatoes the morning of the half.

I don't have any more races scheduled till the half, so now it's time to focus on running and race prep. I'll be under-trained, but I prefer that to over-trained and injured.

August 8.5 miles:                  2:06:58       first trail run
August 2 mile:                     ~40 min?    Mud Run with Sunshine
2nd July 5k:                         35:27
July 5k:                                 34:15
June 5k:                                38:11          Ran with jogger
May 5k:                                39:23          Ran with jogger
April 5k:                               37:40          Color Run
March 5k:                            37:33  
February 4.5 miles:            1:49:55        Mud Run
January:                              ---

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