First, I didn't seek-out this race, and I'm not sure I would have on my own (if I'm keeping it real, friends). That said, I had a great (and challenging) time. A friend from Daily Mile decided to do it because her Husband was doing the 50K distance and just she wanted to take it "easy" and kill time while he ran by doing the 12.5 mile distance. She wanted company, so agreed to do it at my slower-than-her pace. Since I was up to 10 miles on my long runs, I figured what's 2.5 more, right? So I signed up. I knew I could walk the last 2.5 if I had to, but I also knew I wouldn't have to if I just kept MY pace.
Between then and yesterday my friend got pregnant (Congrats!), but she really had a cruddy week health-wise and just wasn't well. On the Friday before, when she finally told me she was pregnant, I told her she was nuts to do the trail run, but she insisted... the persistent girl that she is, which is cool. There's a lot to be said for being tenacious, but I was worried about her doing the run.
We had quite the weather change here in Houston. On Friday we had snow, rain and more snow. Nothing that really stuck, but with the pending freezing temperatures we weren't sure what to expect, so we decided to leave early Friday night for Huntsville and beat any freezing weather. Thankfully, we made it there without any issues (and tons of laughter). Frankly the weather wasn't as bad as we had expected it to be, though we knew it was going to be colder than cold for these parts on Saturday morning, expecting a 22 degree temp at the race start..
We got to Huntsville and met up with some friends for dinner and more laughs. A great time.
So here we are, on race day! I think the actual temp was 24 degrees. Made no matter though, as we were more worried about mud. Turned out we just had to deal with the cold; which was kind of fun. The paths were pretty much hard and frozen... the frost falling from the trees made it feel like it was snowing.
The 50K folks started at 7:30 and the 12.5 mile folks (me) started at 8. I was really slow starting. My legs felt heavy, but I wasn't worrying. After about 10 minutes I started feeling better. The trails were nice, but I could tell maneuvering the stumps and roots were going to take constant focus. There were a few ice patches on Footbridges, but again kinda cool because we don't get that kind of thing around here very often. I felt like I was somewhere in NJ during early Winter. :)
My friend and I made our way with intervals and she did well following me until about the 3rd rest stop (around mile 5/6 she couldn't keep her heart rate down and really just didn't look well. So, after some discussion she sadly decided to end her run and DNF'D. We had the TPW guys take her back to the finish.
So... with some relief that I was no longer responsible for a prengnant woman on a trail run, I was on my own for the rest of the run and had a little more than a 10K left. I was a little bored by myself at first, but it wasn't long before I was enjoying it.
Yes, you read that right. "Enjoying it."
The "it" being running the trails. :)
I did take time to enjoy the park (it really was beautiful) and kept thinking, "I can't believe I'm running this event." I never thought in a million years I would do something like this, and yet here I was. I was cold, but not for long, and I felt good. I was sure to hydrate, hearing everyone remind one another how easy it was NOT to drink in the cold. I went through about 60 ounces of water w/hammergel during my run and didn't eat much more than a couple dozen pretzels between two reststops, but I was was feeling good.
My only frustration was finding my happy pace only to be interrupted by the stumps and roots. I mean, I was ready to 'tuck and roll' and had my gloves to protect my hands, but I was glad I didn't have to do either!
The first 10 miles were great, but I was getting tired; it was mentally draining to keep focus on the ground for safety's sake. My legs were already fatigued from the hills/climbs so and I had to be very consious of picking up my feet, instead of shuffling, to avoid falling.
One of my friends told me I'd never be so glad to see that last 800m of pavement to the Finish and she was right!
I have no race drama to report, I simply crossed the line in 3:23 by myself -- YAY!
So now I am certain I'll be able to finish my first half marathon in January. And while it wasn't a record time, it was distance (and challenge) PR for me. It's been really hard for me to see my progress with running, so being able to finsish, and still feel good at the FINISH, gave me that little bit of confidence I was lacking.
I did have 7 stumbles. but no falls (we were all counting!). In fact, I think I was the only one who didn't eat it (on that day anyway)... I like to "eat it" in familiar places I've run a hundred times... like when I run on my weekly brick training.
I did opt to wear my last pair of running shoes, instead of my new ones. My last pair were stability shoes and they slightly over corrected. I have since switched to a neutral shoe and things have been great; I just didn't want to ruin my new ones. As a result of my choice, I spent way too much time rolled to the outsides of my feet and I'm feeling it 2 days later, though I'm sure in a day or so they'll be fine. Lesson learned.
I felt pretty good the day after; really the only thing sore are my ankles and my back, just a tiny bit. I headed out for an easy swim Sunday morning and that took care of everything except my ankles which are getting better.
Oh, and I would do this again... and maybe one day the 50K distance. Who knows? Anything is possible.