Monday, November 29, 2010

Dirty Bird (For Real)

When the alarm went off on Sunday I rolled over and went back to sleep. “The race was yesterday,” I thought in my sleepy brain. “I can sleep and sleep.”

After hitting snooze 886 times I realized that, no, the race (15k trail run) wasn’t yesterday, it was today. For real this time.

What a difference a day makes.
Fortunately the Philly traffic Goddesses smiled upon us two mornings in a row and we made it to the race with my required hour of sit-and-do-nothing time.

The weather was great – sunny, in the high 40s, no wind.

I’ve done the race once before, two years ago after an especially lumpy Thanksgiving weekend. The course, for me, is pretty technical. A few decent climbs and moderately steep downhills, but more alarming to me, lots of rocks, boulders, rock gardens, loose rocks, rocky rocks, pebbles, stones and incognito rocks hiding under leaves. Last time I wasn’t in remotely good shape and I tripped over some sort of rockish thing at mile 8.5 and fell, hard. Some sweet scars rewarded my effort and I wasn’t especially thrilled with the way I ran.

So, my goals for this race were:
1) Run faster than last time by at least 30 seconds a mile.
2) Run faster than last time.
3) Run the same as last time.
4) Cross the finish line without blood pouring off of any part of my person.

The first 600 yards or so are on a flat road and then the course makes a sharp right up a steep, rooted and rocky single-track hill. I knew that if I was too far in front faster people would make me work too hard and blow up and if I was too far in back I’d be walking and weaving around other runners so I tried to get into the right pack of people. Fortunately, I picked a good bunch* and had an appropriate steady climb for the first part of the course.

I managed to pass a few people once we wove back onto the road for about 1/4th of a mile and then we hit the downhill single track. A few people passed me, I passed a few people and I was feeling quite lovely.

We hit an uphill followed by a steep, technical downhill at about mile 4.5. A short portion is an out-and-back and the leaders passed me at this point. They were running faster uphill than I was running downhill.

What goes down must go up and we soon looped around and began to climb. I walked for a bit and felt a bit defeated but made a deal with myself that I would push hard on the flats and downhills. I was running with a group of four dudes. Three were cool and we worked together – one seemed pissed to find himself running in a race and wasn’t so nice.

We crossed over a small dam, up an easy hill, down something steep and then onto a road, a flat trail and through a parking lot to the finish. I actually managed to pass people during the last mile. Exciting to me because while I still can’t quite pace myself I haven’t been passed by droves of people toward the end of a race in at least five days.

I crossed the line about 6 minutes faster than last time (I forgot to stop my watch and the results aren’t posted yet) and didn’t have any booboos. Success! Plus, they give you soup at the finish line. Trail run+No booboos+soup=fantastic.

When I finished Bill looked like he had been waiting for me for a bit. In fact, he had. He pretty much crushed the course, took 12 minutes off of his 2008 time and came in 28th. Rock on, dawg. I knew I married you for a reason.

Me and my speedster lumberjack.

*Aside from a woman, who, for the first 3 miles or so, would push ahead of me (like, literally push), get in front of me and then start walking. It is so cool with me if you pass me – in fact I generally give you a sincere “Good work!” when you do. But getting in front of me and walking on single track makes me not like you too much.


Mallory said...

Great race!! Sounds really cool. I'd love to do some trail races someday!

Adam said...

Wow, congrats!!! I have serious respect for anyone that can compete in trail races. I sure can't!

Laurie said...

Um, "compete" is a generous word!