A few months ago, the local running store decided to put on a trail race. It was going to be a half marathon up in the Blackwater State Forest. I thought this sounded like a great idea, I have never really run any significant trails and the race was pretty inexpensive, so what the heck. I signed up. The race was originally supposed to be in October, but for whatever reason it was postponed until yesterday. I went into the race without any significant expectations other than to take it easy, and just have fun.
I had no real idea about what to expect for the race itself. How hard were the trails going to be, what if anything did I need to do to prepare for this (other than run some trails which I was not able to do). So, I just went out there and “ran”.
Starting off it was a bit chilly, but nothing overly bad. I have run races far colder than this. I did decide at the last minute to put on a pair of gloves. This was in the end one of the best decisions I made all day. The trails were not all that complicated except for miles 2 and 12. The first 2 miles and the last 2 miles were run on the same track. The middle 9 miles was a big loop around a lake that I never even saw one time lol.
Here are some pictures of the little lake that was at the start.
So the race was supposed to start at 8 AM….a few logistics issues taken care of and at 8:10 the race officially started. What I have found in a trail race is that sometimes speed is not a factor, rather it is about placement. There are often times single trails that are almost impossible to get by someone unless they stop and let you past. Lesson learned for the next time 🙂
Mile 1 – Pace: 7:33 Overall the fist 3/4’s of the first mile was not all that challenging. Pretty much a single trail but nothing hard. Kept a good pace and was right up in front with the leaders. The last quarter mile of the first mile and about half of the 2nd mile the tail go quite complicated. Crossing streams, weaving in and out of tree’s, lots of mud. Fun stuff 🙂
Mile 2 – Pace: 8:38 Like I said earlier the first half of the 2nd mile was a complicated mess. Still running but not all that fast and I was more concerned about my footing and not getting hit in the face with a branch. The 8:38 pace is misleading actually. I would say I was “running” at about a 10:00 minute pace but at the 2.5 mile mark it all cleared out and I was able to run pretty quick. So it averaged out to 8:38.
Mile 3 – Pace: 7:32 Nothing much to report here. Basically we were running on a minimum maintenance road. A little sandy but not too bad.
Mile 4 – Pace: 7:55 Starting to feel some muscles in my legs actually start to hurt. Turns out in trail running, a lot of stabilizer muscles are used that are not normally used in road running. Weird sensations of pain started to appear in my legs, ankles, feet and my rear end. I remember thinking, if it hurts like this now, what is it going to feel like 9 miles from now. Turns out I didn’t have to wait that long to find out.
Mile 5 – Pace: 8:02 Lots of up and down hills on some slick trail. Footing was an issue at times. I noticed that all the runners in front of me had actual trail running shoes. This is an investment to think about sometime down the road if I intend on doing a race like this again.
Mile 6 – Pace: 8:08 This particular mile was more downhill and let me tell ya, down hill on wet leaves with legs that are already starting to get shakey….not a great thing. I was positive that I was going to slip and pretty much roll down the hills I was finding, but I didn’t 🙂
Mile 7 – Pace: 8:12 For every downhill there has to be 2 uphills…that is just the way it is in running 🙂 Nothing complicated about this mile, just uphill. My legs and glutes and hip were really starting to hurt here.
Mile 8 – Pace: 7:55 I was running with a guy who has run these trails a lot and he told me that this was pretty much the last stretch of decent trail to pick up any speed. So off I went. Felt good to actually run faster.
Mile 9 – Pace: 8:11 Really starting to feel every ache and pain in my legs. Seemed like every time my feet hit the ground something new hurt. I was starting to add all the pains up, but I only have 10 fingers and since I couldn’t feel my toes let alone see them, I just left well enough alone and did my best to follow the people in front of me.
Mile 10 – Pace: 8:19 Sand, sand and more sand. This is why I don’t run the beaches all that often…..sand hurts and there is no grip what so ever!
Mile 11 – Pace: 8:04 Pretty much a downhill and no leaves so I ran the best I could knowing that coming up, we were going to be back on that first stretch and I needed to make up some time.
Mile 12 – Pace: 9:54 You can pretty much assume that we are back into the shit here. In and out of trees, cutting corners, back over the water that we started at. Much much slower this time. It took everything I had just to keep moving forward. I remember thinking that this is no longer fun. This is a fight! I know I am going to finish, but damn, I haven’t ever felt this bad in a half other than the time I thought I was going to lose a finger because of the cold!
Mile 13 – Pace: 8:22 Came out of the crap and was back on the very original part of the trail that I ran a 7:33 on in the first mile. As you can tell, much much slower this time around. Every single step hurt! My feet and legs are just not used to all the twists and turns that I just put them through, but I know it is almost over and that is a great thing!
Mile 13.11 – Pace: 6:35 Hit the blacktop to get to the finish line and I just sprinted to get done with the race.
Overall it was tough, challenging but a completely new experience that I can say I have done now. Would I do one again? Yes, but I would want to get a whole lot more trail running under my belt before I did. Here is a map of the run from my Garmin.