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My first trail race

Sunday, February 10, 2013

It really bothers me that I can't use emoticons on an iPad. Can you please picture a cute pattern of snowflake, runner girl, snowflake, runner girl...

Yesterday I ran in my first trail race. In February in Minnesota! It's part of a very small race series and they had a Black Friday event with race deals. 10 miler for $13. I'm in! Plus, the timing was perfect for my HM training. 10 mile long run. Since it was a trail run, I had no time goal for this race. I'm serious! I just wanted to have fun and be challenged in a new way.

All the racing I have done has been in big events. Expos, packet pick ups, sweet gear and medals, 1000s of people. This was not like that. A small race has a much different feel. At the start, the race director gathered us all up in the parking line and said, "OK, we will start at this crack in the road." How great is that?! And then he really did say, "ready, set, go!"

I started with my friend and we chatted and everything felt fine. And then we got off the pavement and onto the trails. Uh oh. It was warm: 25 degrees. (I hope all my southern sparker friends think that's cute that I think 25 is warm :) well, it's warm for Feb. and the problem is that snow was melting a little. Which means slush. Which means no traction. Felt like we were running in sand. Whew.

My legs felt it. My friend told me not to worry,most of the runners were doing the 10k and that we'd get back to pavement in a little bit. When we got to the 10k turn around (3.1 miles) I told her to take off. I put my iPhone on and tried to let Kesha and flo rida distract me from how much my legs hurt. I had map my run app going so when it announced at mile 4 that my average pace was 8:15, I panicked. Slow down! That's way too fast for you! You can't keep that pace!

I know the app tends to be fast, 5-10 seconds off. But the time still freaked me out. I still dont believe that i can do that. Then I had to tell myself to shut up. Yep, I can be rude to myself. Here's the deal: my heart rate was fine, I felt fine. Wy should I let some little apple contraption tell me how to run? I know my body. Just run! Gadgets are not number 1 for me.

Back to the beautiful trails... I'm a city girl so this was fun to run out in open land and by some farms and ponds. There was one teeny dirt road lined with birch trees (my favorite!) and the wind was blowing the snow off and it was picture perfect. The turn around was back in this area. I was very surprised by how few people were in front of me. Small race!

5-7 miles went fairly quickly. I ran with some other guy for a bit and we chatted about winter running and the pain and the joy. The few runners I saw we're all mumbling about how tough this was.

I passed a few runners and then was all alone. I mean, alone. I couldn't see anyone in front of me and heard no one behind me. I thought, thank god, I do have this silly GPS contraption straped to my arm because I have no idea where I am. Ok, maybe gadgets are number 1!

I love the energy of big races and all the runners. I like to pick people to try to catch. It motivates me, it keeps my race pace going. There was none of that. This was a true mental battle to keep going strong. Lots of positive self talk here. It would have been very easy to get discouraged and slow way down.

A mile 9 one guy passed me and I was annoyed for a second, but then reminded myself that I was giving it everything I had. My legs were done. My head was staying as positive as possible.

At the finish line, my legs were jello. When they asked me to take off my timing chip (old school anklet wraps) I wasn't sure I could bend over. I needed to keep walking. Very quickly I felt amazing. My friend and I were on such a giddy runners high. That was an incredibly tough run: mentally and physically. And we did it!

She got 2nd in her age group so we stayed for the awards. I got 4th. So close to a medal! 4/16 in my age group. 12/37 women. I'm thrilled with that. 87:13 (8:45 pace) What's funny about my time is that it is the exact same, to the second, as my Twin cities 10 miler last year.

And while I'm happy with the time, I'm more proud of myself for staying strong and talking myself through some very tough miles. Running is so much fun!

Runner girl, snowflake, runner girl, snowflake.
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