Oh, this is so long, I apologize now! It has been so long since I had something to really talk about.
Months ago I signed up for the Dogwood 10 Mile Trail Run. It is part of a 12 hour race. The race director is a local around here, and he does this to support anyone with an ultra goal, and to encourage trail running.
The organizer picked a 2.5 mile loop in Pocahontas State Park, which has miles of trail: some fire road, some single track, some a little wider, and fairly technical. Our race loop was challenging, but not too crazy.
The race plan was to go around the loop as many times as you want and be sure to to be scored as you run by the base station. The race was clocked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A few other folks were doing the 10 mile option like me, but most were going all day.
This race was about 15 minutes from home and I run (walk lately) and bike in this park a lot, but I have not run in this loop since 2014.
I woke and got my cats situated and ate a pop tart and had a little coffee about 6 a.m. I had not been shopping and I was out of every thing! I filled my Nathan pack with a liter of water and one tablet of lemon lime Nuun.
I arrived at the park about 10 minutes before go time and realized I forgot my bib. Genius! The organizer just said to call out my bib number as I ran by, which I did and it worked out fine.
The trail was marked with pink ribbon and had several turns.
Dan, the race director, set up a tent in a grassy area away from the trail head and had us run across a field and turn back at a cone to begin each loop. It made it easier to score and gave everyone a place to leave drop bags with extra socks, clothes, etc...
|That is me looping by the race station.|
He had made a great spread of food. Cut up oranges, bananas, trail mix, PBJ (with no crust) cantaloupe, Gu's, power drinks, soda, and had sloppy joes cooking with all the fixings for lunch. He did not skimp on food, he really went all out to support everyone, especially those attempting to make 15 or 20 loops.
We took off a few minutes after 7 a.m. and as we started across the grass, I was thinking about my "race plan" and decided to not use my timer until the second loop. I really wanted to stay with the group for one loop, just to be sure I didn't take a wrong turn. I realized I forgot to start my Garmin. I do this quite often at the beginning of races, I either get wrapped up with anxiety, or lost in my thoughts, you would think by now it would be second nature...
I started my Garmin a handful of seconds after we took off.
One loop around and I felt very comfortable. The pink ribbon was easy to follow and many folks walked the hills on the first lap. I actually ran most of the first lap and turned on my timer toward the end of the first lap.
I had worried of using the Galloway method would be disruptive on the trails, but we had thinned out so much during the first lap, I realized it would't be an issue.
My timer is always set for 4 x 1 (4 minutes run - 1 minute walk) I planned to flip that if I started hurting, but during the second loop I decided to walk the steepest spots and run the easier parts so I didn't stick to the timer exactly, but it really worked for me, and I feel like I ran a good portion of the race.
Rain was in forecast and the temperature was supposed to drop during the day.
I did bring a light water resistant vest just in case. Heavy wind was also predicted. It was hard to dress thinking it would get colder.
In the woods it usually feels a bit cooler because that area of the park doesn't get a lot of morning sun, so I wore my high top warm compression pants and a long sleeve top, gloves, and my hydration pack.
The first two loops were just a little under 30 minutes. I was feeling great. I did worry I was over dressed during my second loop, it never rained, but the wind really kicked up about that time.
My third loop was gusty! I was glad I had my long sleeves on. I was feeling tired, and I was getting sloppy, so I walked a little more. The extra walking did the trick and I got my second wind.
I was not surprised it felt hard, I have not run more than 4 miles since January. Sometimes I walked really slow during my walk breaks and sometimes I was walking at a good clip, but the breaks really helped.
Scenes from the trail.
Just one muddy section and a little stream to cross.
No pics from the most technical sections,
I was dodging tree roots :)
About mile 8, I felt pretty tired. A half mile later my feet were protesting. My left foot was feeling pretty tender. I debated with myself if I should quit. I was almost to mile 9...
I got stubborn here, that runner mentality.
I was close, I wanted to finish, and truthfully, I am so sick of my feet holding me back, I walked a little extra and ran easy.
As I finished my last loop I felt good enough to sprint across the grassy field and finish strong.
This photo from above was my last lap.
Then this happened
I didn't clock a full 10 miles on my Garmin. UGH!
It was making me crazy. I thought it was because I started my watch late.
I ran .25 easy miles for good measure and a little cool down.
After I saw the official race results I decided I must be good at cutting corners ;)
My official time was just a few seconds off my Garmin.
1:58:40 - 10.28 miles
My loop times:
lap 1 ~ 29:18
lap 2 ~ 29:38
lap 3 ~ 29:56
lap 4 ~ 29:46
I was thrilled to see that time, two hours feels like win for me :)
Some cool stats about the race!
21 racers :) A very small field.
The race winner ran 11 hours and 52 minutes - 77.10 miles
Even though it was small, FL, DE, PA, ME, and many VA areas were represented.
There were seven 10 mile finishers. I came in 5th and I was the oldest runner (by 10 years).
I don't really recommend running races untrained, but I can't say I regret doing it either. I don't know what the future holds for me as far as distance running, I think it is going to be pretty limited honestly, so I am happy I was able to collect a new experience.
I am glad this wasn't really a "racing" type of event. I walked a lot, and sometimes pretty slowly, but that is what I needed to get to the end.
I was tired but I wasn't dying. I have done two and three hour hilly bike rides, so my leg muscles are still prepared for the activity.
I decided I wouldn't totally judge myself (as completely crazy) until I had a good nights sleep.
After the race, I was moving pretty slow the rest of the day. My left hamstring felt a bit tight, but not as tight as I was dealing with back in training (Sept. - Jan.) so the work I have been doing must be helping ;)
My feet were tender under the ball and my toes were shooting pain. I have felt this sensation many times over the past three months so it was not a surprise. I caved and did something I haven't done the whole time I have been injured. I took two rounds of anti-inflammatory. One that afternoon and one dosage before bed. Kenny and I went to eat and did a little short shopping trip Saturday and the activity was just enough...
When I got home I iced my feet and just chilled.
Sunday I woke up, and my leg muscles felt just slightly used.
Kenny and I went to the gym in the afternoon and I was surprised at how spunky my legs started feeling after I warmed up! My feet were still tender, but felt improved, so I didn't push my warm up at all. Toes two and three, the main offenders were still puffy, so I lifted upper body.
Monday, I felt more improvement and I couldn't see any physical change in either foot, so I felt relieved. Remember last month I had a run where a change happened almost immediately.
I went for a run before work, 3.5 miles pretty slowly, and my foot tolerated it pretty well.
I can still feel improvement Tuesday as I write this.
I am going to give my feet a break until this weekend, just for good measure :) This weekend will be my last brush with long distance for the rest of the summer.
I don't have any race plans until December, so training doesn't need to begin until late July. I have toyed with the idea of taking another solid block of rest because foot tissue is probably the hardest thing in the world to heal. Even at "rest", I am still obliviously on my feet some. I don't remember if I have mentioned that this injury is permanent. My toes will only heal in place now, I will never go back to what I had before, hence the unknown of what to totally expect.
I really do hope there is a "better" than how I feel right now.
Walking is what saves me right now. Trying to run without stopping aggravates my foot much sooner into a workout. Maybe that will always be the case, I hope not, but I think it is too soon to tell.
Have you ever run a loop race? or timed event like this?
Have you done any trail running lately?