Trail Run: Take Two

I ran my first trail race in March of this year – and it was an experience to be remembered for a long time to come.  I finished the 4 mile race trek in 1 hour and 36 minutes (that’s a 16 minute 38 second pace-per-mile, by the way) and ranked number 37 out of – you guessed it – 37 runners.  My Age Group results were not any better – obviously.  And as for my previous ambitions to run ultra-marathons for days on end over rugged mountain terrain with nothing but a 2 pound pack on my back?  Yeah, not so much.  Not when four miles through Alum Creek State Park almost killed me (well, at least I was mud-covered and bleeding by the time I finished).  But, hey, I finished right?

So, naturally, when my sister signed up to run her first 10K – The Buckeye Classic – I thought, “Sure, sounds like fun!”  It wasn’t until I already registered that I found out it was (a) technically a trail run, (b) over apparently very hilly terrain (I thought I lived in Columbus), and (c) did I mention it was a six mile trail run?  I had pretty much hit my limit at four miles the last time!

Before I knew it, me, my sister, and my MIT crew were lined up in the cold air at the Start Line on Sunday waiting for the whistle to blow.  Or, I stand corrected – a customary “O-H-I-O” battle cry rallying the Ohio State Buckeyes (it was The Buckeye Classic, after all, as my sister pointed out) – and we were off!  Duane, our fearless pace coach, was in the lead.  Mollie, my sister, broke away from the pack after about a minute and a half (she’s speedy) and I watched her disappear into the small swarm of runners ahead of us.

We headed onto the trail about a half mile in, the spectators cheers and shouts fading behind us.  The woods were beautiful, peaceful, and quiet.  Our little group stretched out, reaching our various races paces.  I felt calm, free, relaxed, my mind was still and I focused on running – just running.  Until, of course, I tripped on a rock and almost catapulted myself into the brush.  A rock?  Seriously?!?  We hadn’t even got to the trail part yet!

Duane and I made it into Mile 2 and approached our first major incline.  It was a decent hill and I wasn’t worried, however at that point, I was thinking it was probably the only one (it being steep and all), I was pain free, and feeling really motivated.

I could feel Duane running on my right shoulder telling me to take smaller steps to keep it slow and steady, and I did my best.  I made it up that one hill without a problem at all – the problem was the 15 more hills that were to come.  It was like a roller coaster track at an amusement park only I was the roller coaster and there wasn’t much amusement.

It was a long path to the Finish Line.

We stuck to the inside shoulder and just ran.  I was able to keep my panic at bay with deep breathing, and I stayed in Duane’s heels for Mile 2 and most of Mile 3 before my pace slowed considerably and then slowed to a brisk walk.  I watched as Duane rounded a corner – straight uphill, I might add – and vanished into the woods.  “Just stay with him,” I repeated in my head (or maybe out loud) and started running again.

Miles 4 and 5 were tough.  Really tough.  I spent most of them plodding up steep hills and careening down slippery slopes.  I have a lot to learn about running on anything other than pavement.  I ran, walked, ran, walked, ran, and then walked some more in a game of leap frog with myself.  The other runners on the trail thinned from a few here and there to none.  It was just me.  I relished the silence again and tried to relax.  I began to notice things along the way – a squirrel rummaging in the brush, a caterpillar on a branch, a hawk navigating through the trees.  In tune with nature, I was in tune with myself – my running was almost primal – I was running like so many people before, including my ancestors.

My mind forgot about the pain, which means I forgot about the pain.  I ran half of Mile 6 like I had never run before, stopped to chat with a runner friend who was volunteering (I had to proclaim my misery), and sprinted in for a strong finish.

My sister was there, as were my parents and my MIT buddies.  All of them cheering me on – I was the last of our group to finish, but I wasn’t last.  And, after all, I did finish.

My official time was 1:26:58 – that’s a 14:02 pace.  I placed 495 out of 513 and I was not the last one in my age group.  My sister – her first 10k ever being a trail run – finished in 1:14, for a 12:06 per mile pace!  I am so proud of her.

As for my aforementioned ultra trail running ambitions?  Let’s just say I wouldn’t mind learning a little more and giving it another try.

As for Trail Run: Take Two?  It’s a wrap!

 

Me, Kim, Duane, Wendy, Mollie before the race.

 

Mollie (my sister) crossing the Finish Line

 

Duane and Me at Mile 1 (which is why I am smiling still)

 

Wendy, Duane, Michelle, Me (note the face), and Mollie AFTER the race!

 

What can I say? We’re sisters!

Comments

  1. cute pictures. wonderful job.

  2. How fun to run with your sister! Congrats on a great race!

  3. Amazing!! That’s awesome – i’m not sure I’d be so enthused about running through trails and up hill yet… um. probably not.

    I’m so excited about your first marathon in May and mine in June – seems we run about the same pace. I was looking at some of your other posts and enjoyed them – will be continuing to follow your journey!

  4. Thank you all! I am so thankful to have you all following my blog!! 🙂 Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

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