This is It!

September 26, 2009 at 5:43 pm 1 comment

Well. That was without a doubt the most physically and mentally exhausting and difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. The course description on the race website describes it as a “very hilly single track Potawatomi Trail, a beautiful wilderness experience”. And my were they correct on both counts.

So anyway, on to the race. I didn’t sleep very well last night; I kept waking up, and the during the final hour of sleep I got, I even dreamt about running! I woke up at 5:50am so I could make sure I had everything, and eat a little something.

Looking back on it, I think I would have eaten a bit lot more. I usually only eat the banana/PB combo before I run, but I was starving by the end.

My brother-cum-roommate was kind enough to accompany me, and also to serve as my photographer :) It took about half an hour to get there, and when we arrived, I started getting pretty nervous. Not because of the race itself, though, but because it was still pretty dark (we arrived around 7), and I was afraid I’d be running through the woods in the dark!

Luckily, it got light really quick!

As I mentioned awhile ago, the run I was doing was called “Run Woodstock”, which was put together by the local running store. It’s the first year of the race, takes place where I volunteered a few weeks ago, and featured a 5 mile run, a half-marathon, marathon, a 50k, 50 mile, and even an 100 mile race! I admit, that was part of the appeal of signing up for me – I wanted to see a 100 mile race in action! (As it turns out, I only saw some 50k people, but even so! I can’t imagine having done a marathon on that trail, let alone a marathon x4!). It really took the “Woodstock” theme literally – there was tie-dye everywhere, live music, and the race events were actually set up over the course of 3 days, with camping options available!

A bit before 7:30, we all lined up behind the starting line

and at 7:30 on the dot, we were off!

Most of the race was run on a dirt trail, though occasionally it was on grass, or even a boardwalk at a few different points. This also meant that there were rocks, roots, mud, puddles, and wet leaves – although it didn’t rain during the race (thank God!), it had rained a little last night, so everything was a bit…slick. I saw a few different people fall, one guy was running with a definite leg injury, and my brother said he saw someone stumble out of the woods muddy and bloody…I slipped a few times, but I was luckily able to right myself.

It was also more hilly than I could have ever imagined. There was very little flat terrain; most of the time was spent either running up, or running down. Or in my case (especially during the second half) walking up, and hopefully running down.

The first four miles I was really able to appreciate the “beauty of the wilderness” – I’m sure I started way too fast, due to the adrenaline, the effect of being in a big group, etc. But I didn’t even turn my music on; I just ran and enjoyed the scenery.

Mile 4 brought my first really big mental block – I took advantage of the aid station, but then it really hit me how far I still had to go, and I was starting to lose a bit of momentum, as the trail so far had been pretty hilly. I turned on my music for a bit of motivation, and continued on. And then it started to get really hilly – I’m talking pretty vertical at some points, and very long, continuous climbs at others. As much as I hated to do it, I had to stop and walk many of the hills – this is the only thing I probably could have prepared a little more for (though, at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have made it through every single one no matter what I did!).

After 45 minutes of running, I took the first of my two Sharkies, which gave me a great energy boost. And then around the hour mark, I came across what I thought was just an ultra aid station, so I didn’t take anything. Big mistake! The half hour between that, and 1:30 (when I told myself I would take my last two) dragged like no other.

Not long after that, I came across the final water stop, where my brother was waiting with the camera!

He informed me that there was only 4.2 miles to go, and I took off, re-energized.

I routinely do 4 miles; in fact, it’s one of my favorite distances to run. I figured I had it, no problem.

…Not quite.

Aside from the obvious convenience it would provide, I’ve never really wanted a Garmin (well, that’s partially a lie. I would not at all say no if someone were to just give me one :). I tend to work against myself if I know how far or how fast I’m going – I would rather just run and then figure out all the specifics later. But I have never wanted anything more in my life during that last 4.2 miles than I wanted a Garmin.

There were absolutely no mile markers along the trail, so I had no idea how far I’d gone, and since it was through the woods, there were no visual clues either. I also had no clue how fast I was going, so there was no way to base distance off of my time. It was literally the longest 4.2 miles of my life. I started out really strong, and then it just dragged longer and longer, and to make matters worse, the trail wasn’t as clearly marked as it had been at the beginning, so I was scared I was going the wrong way. The race had also really thinned out by that point, so aside from a few 50k racers, there was no one I could ask. At one point, I was honestly just walking along the path, close to tears, because I was sure that there was no way I would be able to finish.

Finally, after way way too long (it took me about 50 minutes to do that last 4.2), I heard the music that had been promised for the finished. So I kicked it into gear, and I finished as strong as I could muster.

Keeping with the “Woodstock" theme, the finishing medals were dog tags with “3 Days of Peace, Love & Running, Hippie Half Marathon, Run Woodstock” inscribed on them.

According to my unofficial results, my time was 2:28.57. And I couldn’t be happier with that time. I even did well enough to finish third in my age group (not too much of an achievement, as it’s possible there was actually only three people in my age group…), and score an awesome medal!

Quite honestly, I don’t know that I would ever do a trail race again. Or at least not alone – I might consider a Dances with Dirt type relay. But at the same time, I think it was a great half-marathon to start off with – any road race will seem much easier compared to this! And there’s no way I won’t PR…Maybe I’ll consider doing the Detroit Free Press Half afterall!

I did have lunch with my running buddy after we returned today (of which I have no pictures because I’m still a bit shy about taking pictures in public, but she made pasta with goodies from the Farmers’ Market – squash, DELICIOUS tomatoes, onions, olive oil, etc.), but now I’ve assumed this position:

And I can’t imagine myself moving anytime soon :)

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

Short Pre-Race Update Cold, Rainy, and Fully Satisfied

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Done and Done « Following Foodie  |  October 18, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    […] multitude of people was actually a welcome change from my Trail Half-Marathon, especially since I made the (very last minute) decision to not use my iPod. I usually run without […]

    Reply

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