Race Recap

Note to self- trail running isn’t the same as road running

Twenty-twenty the year of COVID. The year of racing being canceled. The year of trying new things. Since March running races has been purely in the virtual realm. While you still get to compete (seemingly after the fact when everyone’s times are posted), it’s not really the same experience as running a true race. So when the opportunity presented itself to run a REAL in person race I was on it. Originally, I believed the course to be some trail and some road. I can do that- I thought. What’s a little bit of trail??

Friends the switch from road running to trail running IS A BIG DEAL!! It was a wave start. Twenty five people to a wave, wearing masks waiting to start the race. The temperature almost 80 with 91% humidity. Amazing. I did the ice trick under my hat…as in I filled my hat with ice and put it on my head. It worked for a bit, but was no where close to doing the trick to cool me down. And we are off. To start is a flat gravel like path before we hit the woods. As a group we went out faster than I would normally pace myself, but there was the adrenaline of a real race pushing me along. Then we hit the trail. Hold the phone- I’m supposed to run on this??

Photo credit Melissa Halpern

This was the entire trail, but only narrower. Oh wait if it wasn’t full of tree roots it looked like this:

Photo credit Melissa Halpern

What in the world had I been thinking??? So I haven’t run trails in 25 years and I sign up for a trail Half Marathon. Clearly COVID made me crazy!! I had so many thoughts while I was running and looking down at every step I took so I didn’t roll an ankle or fall. 1) What in the world is a good mile pace vs. a road pace? 2) There’s a 10K option, one loop instead of two you should really think about that. 3) If I get hurt running this race, I won’t be able to train and run my marathon this fall.

For the first two miles I was literally just trying to get my bearings, regulate my breathing and heart rate. Around mile three and a half my left foot landed funny and I nearly took a dive. My wonderful husband was sending me supportive texts from him and the boys. I couldn’t even look at them because that would mean not looking at my feet. So this was definitely way harder than I thought. Here I’m wearing my Never Give Up bracelet and seriously considering giving up. But is it giving up when it’s really the safe call so as to not get hurt??

Well, the two sides of my brain contemplated this as I continued through the woods. Finally, I stopped to walk to catch my breath. The kind woman behind me stopped to make sure I was OK. Runners support other runners in an amazing way and I was reminded of the sense of community! While I wasn’t really OK, I knew I was going to be. I took out my phone, texted my husband and said “I’m calling it at the half way point. I’m fine. But I’d like to stay that way.” As if to seal the deal it started pouring shortly thereafter. I finished or did I? Does this count as a DNF? I imagine if there was no 10K one loop option I would have plugged along and actually finished, but notified the race organizers that I had made the shift from Half Marathon to 10K and made my way to the car.

I was HOT but relieved that I wouldn’t have to make that second loop. Could I have done it? Yes. It wasn’t the distance that was the issue. It was the terrain. I was not truly prepared for the un-level ground. And it was the fact that staying healthy for the marathon is more important to me. On the post race drive home I had some more time to think. Whenever I’ve trained for a race that race was super important to me. Today’s race was something I did because it was there but deep down didn’t really mean anything to my overall running goals. Before COVID hit, I had the whole year mapped out and I can tell you with great certainty that the Bear Trail Half Marathon was not on that list of must do race.

While I was at peace with my decision, I wasn’t expecting so many questions from the boys when I got home. What do you mean you didn’t finish? Aren’t you sad? Aren’t you disappointed? I thought you said, we never give up? Man, my fan club was being pretty rough on me. But this was an important teaching moment. We talked about it. We talked about safety being number one. We talked about how we have to have priorities and that sometimes that means making hard choices to focus on those priorities. Hello, I didn’t go to law school to be a stay at home mom- but they are my priority and it’s ok for focuses to shift!

Ready for the kicker?? Remember how I said I had no idea what was a “good time?” Apparently my time, while I was sucking wind wasn’t so bad. I finished as the 9th overall female out of 81 and 2nd in my age category of 19 runners. PS the age category was 30-39 and I’m the old lady in the age category. So apparently for my first trail race I did better than I thought.

Needless to say, you won’t find me running trail again any time soon. If you need me I’ll be running loops around the neighborhood or on the treadmill!

Happy running!

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