Monday, June 6, 2011

The Glamorous Life of a Runner (Race Report from Trail Marathon)

Most people don't know it but the life of a runner is pretty darn glamorous. I thought I would detail all of the highlights with my most recent Yankee Springs Marathon Trail run race report.

It all started last weekend when Jason called and told me about his great run he had at his recent 50 mile race. I started thinking about what distance I wanted to run the following weekend. It would probably be alone and I can easily talk myself out of the distance. I'm not always the most disciplined in finishing solo long runs so sometimes I like to sign up for a race. Without a running partner I knew I would be race it was!

I signed up the Tuesday before the race, a trail marathon. I felt pretty good that I could sign up for such a race within a week's notice without it being a goal race for me. Granted, I'm not fast, but it felt good all the same.

I asked my mom if she could watch the kids and she said ok. She has a busy social life and asked what time I would pick them up. I gave her my best estimate and she said it would be fine.

I didn't really think much about running the race before hand. I did try to hydrate more a few days before the race than I have in the past. I also did a little more carb loading the night before. For dinner I had a gluten free, rice crust pizza with roasted vegetables which is now on my favorites list. It was tasty!

So race day, the glamor begins. My mom spent the night at our house since we had to leave ridiculously early. I awoke at 3:30 a.m. (yikes!) and went through my morning routine. At 4:15 we were out the door. You know, like a movie star getting ready to go on set early.

Jason was volunteering but would be staying longer than me so we drove separately. What? No driver?

When you're out driving at 4 in the morning you wonder what others are doing on the road. Are they drunk? Did I see weaving? Maybe they're runners too....

The race was an hour away and we arrived in plenty of time. Jason was manning his aid station at 5:30 and I went to packet pickup. The mosquitoes were out in full force and hungrily nibbling away at my tasty skin. One last quick dash into the woods to pee and it was time to line up.

The race started at 6:00 a.m. and as I lined up and heard the guy say "Now, remember this is for the double marathon starters only." What? Oh, damn! That's not me. Our race, the marathon, must start 15 minutes later. So I hopped out of line and asked someone the start time.

It was 7:00 a.m.! I could have slept in a whole hour! I had an elaborate gift for screwing up start times, getting lost while running and any other mishap you can think of. At least I was early and not late.

While waiting for my start, I got the chance to chat with others racing that day. One ladies boyfriend was training for Leadville and another had ran behind me in a previous marathon. It's always fun talking to other trail runners in the area because you know the same races and usually the same people.

Finally it was time for the half marathon and marathon to start! I didn't have any race jitters or nervousness that I sometimes get. I was running this race for pure fun and enjoyment. At the beginning, they announced they added an additional out and back section to the race so it was going to be a little longer distance than 13.1 and 26.2. They said they wanted to make sure we got our money's worth! This really makes me laugh because only in a trail race can you add distance and people are like "Oh, ok".

The race started and I was off! In the beginning of the race there were two guys holding back a branch that was overlapping the path. A lady ran by them as they held it and said "Aah! You don't have to do that. We're trail runners!" which made me smile.

What I love about running races is the people I meet and talk to while running. They are the best! There is no explaining or shocked faces when you talk about why you love running and the distances you run. Everyone there just gets it. I talked to several ladies about local trails they ran, races they have been in and a mutual love of hills.

At first I'm always a little shocked because I'm not used to someone actually agreeing with you when you say you like getting muddy on the trails. One of the ladies I talked to said she was a little disappointed at Dances with Dirt race she ran because she thought she would get a lot dirtier than she did. There is just a mutual sense of adventure and a love of nature that goes hand in hand with trail running.

The first half of the distance I chatted almost the entire way with others but most were running the half marathon so I didn't see them on the second loop. The second loop I ran I was pretty much alone the entire time. At some points it was very hot. I think the weather that day was mid 80's and humid. The one section that I felt I lagged the most was a small portion of a dirt road. It was out in the open, hot and not trails. I walked a portion of it and felt happy to be heading back into the woods.

On the trails themselves, there was sand, rocks and giant mudpits in some sections. I ran through almost every single one. It felt so good! Someone commented on my formerly blue shoes, now black and I said "Well, I'm a muddy kind of girl!"

Even though it was so hot, I felt I did a really good job keeping hydrated. I was also a lot more conscious about fueling. In the last couple of longer races I don't think I did the best job of eating and that will definitely kill your running. I felt really strong the whole day even though I have only run a trails two or three times in the last month and nothing longer than 7 miles.

The last two miles I was ready to be done. I didn't know just how much added distance there would be so I wasn't sure just how fast to run. I ran a little harder and it felt good so I kept up the pace. When my Garmin showed 26.2 miles my watch time was 5:55 which would have been a PR for me by about 11 minutes. I was guessing that the out and back added a mile to the overall distance so I picked up my speed and went even faster. I looked down at my watch and I was running a 8:25 pace and kept it under 9 minutes for the entire last mile. Again, at this point it felt good and I was ready to be finished.

Finally, I saw the end and crossed the finish line. The clock said 6:15 and my Garmin showed a distance of 27.5 miles! At the finish, they asked my age and told me I placed first in my age group! Whoo hoo! That meant I won a gift certificate to a local running store! It turns out I was one of two ladies in my age group but who cares? I still won it! I've never won anything at a race before.

Overall, I felt really pretty good the entire time. I know it was hot and humid out but I really enjoyed the whole experience. I realize just how much I missed running on trails and how they always lift my spirits. I didn't feel like I was as trained as I was for my last trail marathon last fall but I ran stronger this time around. Running Smiley is good for me!

It was time to head home and pick up the kids. I had to walk a half mile back to the car. At first that didn't sound too bad but a few hundred feet into it my muscles got really tight. Where was my driver to take me back to the car? Halfway back to the car, I saw a fellow racer lying under the tree. He told me he couldn't make it back to his car so he was resting. Sounded heavenly! But I had to get back to pick up the kids. Since I thought I was starting at 6, the estimate I had given my mom was going to be off by an hour. You never want to upset the person watching your kids, they might not volunteer in the future!

I was doing a slow shuffle back to the car. I wondered if I offered to pay someone $10 would they take me back to my car? I was guessing not purely from a smell standpoint alone. I came to a fork in the road and could not remember which direction I had taken that morning. This was a critical decision because I did not want to turn back. Luckily, I chose correctly!

I hobbled into the drivers seat. What? No driver to take me home either? I just placed in my age group after all. Doesn't that mean something? (please note sarcasm here).

I checked my phone. 4 missed calls & 2 voice mails. Uh oh! I've angered Grandma! I called back and I told her I was leaving but it would take close to an hour to get there. Needless to say, she wasn't all that happy. On the drive back I was starving but didn't dare stop since I was directed to kindly pick up my children. So I just drooled as I passed any food establishments.

I got to my mom's and hobbled inside to get the kids. Ava asked why I was walking funny and I told her I ran 27.5 miles. She told my mom "Mom, ran a long way so she's walking funny". My mom replied with "Maybe she runs too much". I told my mom I won first in my age group. "I don't know what that means, you run all the time." Ahh! Such accolades for my running :)

I was going to be on my own with the kids for 3 hours before Jason got back home. I compare my kids to the Seagulls on Finding Nemo. Instead of them saying "Mine! Mine!" my kids replace it with "Mom! Mom" but otherwise sound the same. "I need a sandwich. I'm thirsty! He's touching me. Stop it!" and you get the idea....

Still hungry, I had to scrounge around for leftovers after realizing I didn't have many food supplies in the house. I probably should have gone shopping. I'm going to have to fire my personal assistant and chef!

And while I'm poking fun at the idea that running is glamorous and I might be misunderstood as to why I run, I wouldn't have it any other way! It makes me feel alive, it keeps me physically fit, it makes me smile and it's good for my soul.

1 comment:

  1. Haahaaa! The whole taking the kids thing after your marathon should definitely be factored into the endurance equation. That requires some serious strength. I hope you eventually found a quiet oppotunity to reflect and revel in your day. Sounds like you did awesome! Congrats on first place! You rock!