I really wasn't sure what to expect out of myself for this race - it was only my second time doing a trail type run. My last one was a 5k and I finished in 28:42, or about about 9:15 per mile. Since then I have been focusing on half marathon training and building endurance and was hoping that I could improve on that time.
Of course, as you may know I have been fighting an issue with my ankle. After 6 or so physical therapy sessions I am not finding a huge improvement. They have switched my shoes and thus far I am not loving the new shoes. The bones in my feet tend to ache in addition to the pain I have in my ankle. Not very helpful when you are trying to keep yourself on a training plan. I have been taking it easy while trying to get my runs in - if the pain is too bad I have been skipping runs. So, I wasn't 100% confident of a good performance - I even contemplated walking.
Once I got out there and lined up at the start line I knew that my heart wouldn't let me give less than my best. I lined up in the front 1/4 of the runners, near some people that I knew from my local YMCA. I knew they ran slightly faster than I do for long distances but I thought they would be a great group of girls to pace myself with for the shorter 5.3 mile length.
And we were off..... the first bit of the race was not trails, we had to navigate some of the park roads to head into the woods. I don't remember a ton of the run, I remember that I just made sure that I kept my "Y girls" in my sights, we even leapfrogged a few times. They were doing the 16 mile run so they stopped at the aid stations and I did not. I also watched one of them fall down and several times someone in their group rolled an ankle or stepped wrong and hurt themselves. As bad as it sounds it was good having them in front of me to see where the most dangerous spots were. Of course, being right behind them meant I couldn't see too far in front of me - but take the good with the bad!
As far as the general condition of the trails, there was mud in several places that made it very slippery. In addition there were slippery wet leaves which covered the roots, stumps, and holes and such. Potentially my least favorite "feature" of the trail was the big round drainage tubes that were mostly buried and covered with rocks. After watching the guy running in front of me fall down I decided to slow down/walk across these the rest of the race.
It was exciting to finally get to the buffalo enclosure, I knew this meant I was getting sort of close. It was also the location of the hay bales that we had to climb over. I was lucky, as I headed up someone knocked a few bales down so I didn't have to go work quite as hard to climb over. A couple downsides to the buffalo area - the mud was really rutted as they have been driving tractors or something of the like through for construction of a new enclosure, plus I was disappointed to only see one buffalo while running. It was a BEAUTIFUL trail and I enjoyed it immensely, such a difference between road races!
I managed to cross the finish line between my two "Y girls" - I felt like I had run pretty strong and was hopeful that I might be able to garner an age group award. Prior to the awards ceremony I went and found my half marathon glass girls so that I could cheer their relay teams on. The 6 of them created two of the most awesome relay teams ever. After watching Wells L and "S" hand off to "C" and Stacey, I headed up to the "lodge" to warm up and catch the awards ceremony while the rest of the girls drove around to cheer on their teammates. As I walked up they were just announcing my age group - I was disappointed to hear that I didn't come in first or second.
After the ceremony one of my other half marathon classmates came up and said "you won something!" I was ecstatic, and went and found out that I came in 2nd overall female, but while I was standing there someone else came up and told the race director that she should have placed and didn't. Long story short, after some research they were able to identify the time she crossed the mat so she got 2nd overall, and I was bumped down to third. I am still waiting for my plaque in the mail as they had already given it out before the mistake was discovered.
After the awards ceremony I headed down to the finish line to cheer on Stacey and "C" as they crossed the finish line and handed off to Kimberly and Patty. After watching the switch, the family and I headed to the buffalo enclosure to cheer the girls on. The kids enjoyed seeing the buffalo while we waited. After watching the girls scale the hay I took off on the run towards the finish line so I could see them finish. It was an exciting finish, Kimberly ran with amazing speed and overtook the other team in the last 100 or so yards. "Victorious Secret" snagged first place in the relay - they were fantastic! way to go girls! Post race they had a nice spread of food - bison burgers, vegetable soup, chips, beer cookies, beans, etc. Most of you who know me know that I wasn't interested in most of the food, but Tommy and the kids enjoyed it!
My official time was 46:56.3 for 5.3 miles (though my garmin said closer to 5.48) which puts me at a 8:51 pace which is a HUGE improvement over my last trail run. I came in 14th overall of 71, so needless to say I am happy with my performance.
I have NEVER in my life prior to running been good enough at anything to receive recognition (outside of academics). I was a swimmer in high school but never really got anywhere, I received ONE medal the whole time I swam and it was just because there were only 3 of us so I took third. It makes me SO proud to finally be "good" at something. It's very refreshing to see my hard work paying off.
After the race we headed up to Ann Arbor to prepare for pictures with my hubby's family on Sunday. Can't wait to see proofs, I am hopeful we got some good photos!
P.S. Trying out something new for photos, to save the length of my posts, I am going to try to embed an album.
Hope it works, let me know....
Do you prefer the embedded album or for photos to be included in the post?