Have you ever had one of those nightmares leading up to race day when you oversleep or get lost and somehow miss the start? I didn’t have one of those on Saturday night, but it did almost become my reality on Sunday morning.
I laid my flat self out the night before so that when my alarm went off at 6am I wouldn’t have to blindly rush around getting everything together and leave the house missing something important. Like say…my wallet a la last weekend.
Knowing that it would be gloomy for start time on a trail with nothing green growing on it yet because spring has yet to really arrive here and MORE SNOW TOMORROW, I wanted to wear a lot of bright, happy colors. I think this outfit succeeded. I was dressed and out the door by around 10 of 7. The drive to the White Hall NCR trail area where the race was held should have theoretically taken me 20 minutes and start time wasn’t until 8. Getting there a little early would allow me to jog around on my ankle a bit to see what it could handle.
Good thing I gave myself some extra time.
The directions I had were somewhat vague and I didn’t realize I was lost for the first time until I had nearly crossed the state line into Pennsylvania. Panicking, I pulled over and searched frantically for another set of directions and almost started crying when I realized that the highway exit I needed was several miles before the one I had taken. I backtracked based on these new directions and got myself back on course, but then ended up lost AGAIN when I went the wrong way at a fork in the road. It was exactly like every pre-race bad dream I have ever had. I finally got myself where I needed to go with only a few minutes to spare.
Thankfully registration was easy because I had already signed up online, so I paid my $2 (LOVE CLUB RACES!) and collected my bib quickly. Then I went to stand in the long line for the lone port-o-john when the race directors started calling everyone over to the start. I looked at my watch: 7:58. ACK! Guess I would just have to hold it.
There were around 130 of us out there, so a little better attended than the freezing cold 8 miler in January and the weather was definitely more forgiving in the upper 30’s. We were given the rundown of the course, which was an out and back. They told us where we could expect some nasty conditions, which was something I had been afraid of after all the snow we have had. Then we were off! The start was pretty slow because at that point the trail is only a few feet across. After about a quarter mile, things spaced out a little and I was feeling pretty comfortable. My leg felt kind of weird, but not in a hurty way so I tried not to think about it too much.
Not long into the first mile I almost rolled one of my ankles and this would be a trend that would go on for the entire 9.4 miles of the race. Many people bike on this trail too and since the ground has been so wet I was constantly falling into tire tracks. And jumping over piles of horse dung (wheeeee!) because people ride their horses out there. Then the mud they told us about. And then the fallen trees which I hadn’t anticipated, but really didn’t mind having to go under and over because they added to that obstacle course-like appeal and made me feel a little like a badass.
Imperfect as some of the conditions were though, it really was beautiful out there.
At some point during the 2nd mile I started running alongside this one guy whom I had never met before and we ended up near each other until around mile 6 when I pulled ahead. We never actually spoke, but something about having him there made the race more pleasant. He had a really relaxed form and I felt like I was getting that laid back energy from him. At the finish we high-fived and he joked with me about what they must have had in the water at the hydration stop right before I had a little extra burst of speed.
I was feeling fairly good for most of the race, but as I hit the 7th mile I started to realize how much I have fallen out of shape in the past month+. My ankle was the least of my worries; actually at that point it wasn’t bothering me at all. My legs were burning in a way that they haven’t for a very long time. My energy level was good – thanks, Energybits! – but my muscles were just so damn tired for the last couple miles. There was a woman up ahead of me that I had been gaining ground on for awhile, but after a certain point I gave up trying to catch up to her because it hurt and that’s not why I was out there yesterday. I would already have a PR when I finished anyway, and the thought of that was awesome.
My shiny new 15K PR that I learned last night was good for first place in my age group!
I felt a little like I was going to throw up at the end, but I got it under control pretty quickly. I ate some GU that I had forgotten I had in my pocket and grabbed a water to sip on as I watched more people cross the finish. Just like the last BRRC event I attended, the volunteers were awesome and enthusiastic, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, and they had a great spread of post-race snacks out for everyone. All I could think about was a venti vanilla macchiato though so I didn’t hang out very long. Why do I crave giant specialty coffees so much after I run!?
I did snap a picture of the landscape though before hightailing it to Starbucks. Beautiful, but hopefully soon it won’t be so dead and brown looking.
Did I mention that we were getting more snow tomorrow? Because yeah. More snow tomorrow.
Have you ever gotten lost on the way to a race? Do you like wearing eye-searingly bright colors when you run? Are you getting more snow tomorrow?
I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Saturday was beautiful and we actually got to play outside for awhile!
She’s so weird.
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