Monday, January 14, 2013

Lakeside Trail Race

Lakeside Trail Race
January 12, 2013
8 miles
72/127 overall

Wow. Just Wow. Saturday I ran the hardest race I've ever done. It was also the slowest.

The race started at 10:30, so I had a leisurely morning with the family. We all piled into the minivan to go to the start together. The plan was for Jenn to walk with the kiddos while I ran. Alfie was asleep when we arrived, so the plan changed to dropping me off and then driving around because you don't wake up a sleeping baby, especially one who's had trouble with naps lately.

We arrived at 10:20. I visited the bathrooms and pinned on my number. Then there was a short pre-race meeting (look for white blazes and yellow arrows, the bridges are really slippery, the trail isn't much better, etc.), and then we were off!

I've never run a trail race before, so the first thing I noticed was how compact the field was and how difficult it was to pass, especially in the beginning. I didn't particularly mind being behind five people going a little slower than I would have liked in the beginning, but it felt a bit claustrophobic. Since this is an out-and-back course, the narrow path made for some awkward passes later on as well. I really didn't mind, but it was a first for me.

Also a first for me is dying on the course. In all my years of running, I have never felt so crappy in a race. I trained, I ate and drank the appropriate things pre-race, I should have been fine.  Instead, before the half-way point I felt hungry, empty, and tired. My legs weren't sore or even tired, but my whole body was just done. I am so very glad that I didn't choose the 15 mile course!

After the turnaround, I just got slower. I resorted to 30-second walk breaks every five minutes, which helped but not completely. What was wrong with me? I know that trails are different. I love trails! But these trails, for 8 miles, kicked my butt.

At about mile 6, three guys passed me going really fast, their legs covered in mud spatter. They were finishing their 15-mile run so much faster than me that one of them would win the harder, longer race before I crossed the finish line. In retrospect, that really could have bummed me out, but I was so out of it that I didn't really care. I mostly remember the pattern of mud on their legs.

I could finally hear the finish and see a clearing through the woods, so I sped up. At least I think I did. I told myself to speed up, I know that much. I finished in 1:25:48, 5 minutes slower than my conservative guess, 10 minutes off my goal. This just means that next year I will train harder and snag a much faster time.

The Good

  • The locale. The trails attached to Bryan Park go up and down hills, around lakes, and past nice views. I've never run these particular trails, but they are similar to the rest of the watershed trails in our area.
  • The weather. Two years ago, it snowed during this race. Last year, it was 20 degrees at the start. Today the temperature was already around 50 at the start. The sun was shining, and there wasn't any wind. 
The Bad
  • My pace. Mile 1 was 9:57. As my watch beeped, I thought, hey, that's a good warm-up mile. Now I'll pass these people and settle into a 9:30 pace. It'll be great. Mile 2 was 10:02. And those were my fastest miles by a lot.
  • The weather. Did I mention it was 50 degrees at the start? In January? I wasn't prepared for a heat snap. Really, how can you prepare for that? I drank extra water and dressed lightly in a tank and running skirt, but the heat zapped my mo-jo.
  • My preparation. I ran trails, but not for long runs, and most of my runs the last two weeks have been on a treadmill. That is not the way to prepare for a trail race. At a minimum, I should have run on trails on the weekend, including for part or all of the long run. Next year I will do better.
The Missing
  • Photos. I don't have any pictures from this race, despite the fact that I got an iPhone last week and can finally take good pictures. At the last minute I decided that carrying a phone on a trail race (on wet, muddy, leafy trails) probably wasn't a great idea. There were photographers, but the pictures aren't up yet. I will share once I find them!

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