Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dogwood 10 Mile Trail Race Recap

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? 


  1. That is so great. I would think those trails & hills would have aggravated your foot so I'm impressed you made it so far before troubles were showing up. & yep, I would have pushed on too already that close :)
    77 miles? Nearly 12 hours? My gosh... that's amazing.
    What a neat little event!!!

    1. I was surprised I made it that far too! I anticipated a lot more with just a little running.
      I know I seriously can't believe he made 77 miles, it was very windy here all day.
      It is a neat way to run a long time lol

  2. This sounds like a really cool, and intimate, event! Congrats on being one of the few finishers! I hope your foot heals a bit, as much as it can anyway, with it being permanent, so you can start training again in July!

    1. It was a great set up, I do wonder though about going around that loop 15 or 20 x's lol that would mentally wear on me.
      Thanks! I really hope I can get back to a place where I can enjoy more than a few miles :)

  3. Congrats! This sounds like it was a lot of fun and that's cool how intimate it was. I hope your foot continues to feel better. I'm sure if you take it easy until July you won't regret it.

    1. Thanks Hanna :) I know you are right, it'll be the best thing to chill as much as I can and see if I can really get back to running in July.

  4. Beautiful trail! I would love to run in a place like that. I hope your feet continue to improve and you can have a nice run this weekend!

    1. Thank you Susan :) it is a fun, challenging kind of place. I hope I have fun stuff to talk about after this weekend!

  5. That is GREAT! Keep resting those feet now! That sounds like a fun race! Glad you had a good time!

    1. Thanks Cheryl!! I have been thinking about you and Boston!

  6. Trail running?? Of course I have lol. You have a great plan, the run walk is working out. I've never done a loop race or times race like that. You are incredibly strong willed, I don't think I can hang for that many loops lol

    1. Your trials have much cooler views than mine :)
      When I think about the folks who did 15 and 20 laps I get a little cross-eyed lol

  7. Sounds like a fun race! Congrats on your time! I'm racing 25K on the trails on Saturday. It rained today -I hope they dry out by then.

    1. I hope the event goes well! I am so thankful I didn't have to deal with mud, that is factor I probably can't handle right now lol I hope the trails dry out for you.

    2. The trails were dry and we only had a few sprinkles on race day. Looking forward to your next race report!

  8. Dan sounds like the coolest race director! Sloppy Joes!! What an great event and I am so happy for you that you did it and did it so well. I have started to become obsessed with training on the trails. I would have loved to run that one. Glad you took pics! I am sorry to hear about your feet and hope you will not always be in pain. You're right, seems hard to heal when you always have to be on your feet.

    1. Dan was a very cool guy :) he holds another event in the area and I hope I can take part in it.
      I use to go run trails once a week when I first started running for a whole year, and then I kind of started sticking to pavement. I plan to spend more time on the trails this summer even if it involves a lot walking ;)

  9. I love the setup of this race! It sounds like a fun, but low-key event. I think you did amazing! Your splits are pretty consistent, even though you probably felt you slowed or walked more toward the end. I think it's very encouraging you feel improvement in your feet. The uneven surfaces would have done a number on my left foot -- so kudos! Good luck this weekend!!!

    1. Thanks Holly :) I was surprised at how consistent I was and I felt like I got a great work out. The uneven is challenging to the foot, but I was taking it easy and it really went better than I expected. I was pretty achy Saturday night, but felt much better Sunday thankfully, so I guess it was okay to push it a little!
      I hope we both have a good weekend! I am sure mine will be slow if I can get to the end lol

  10. This sounds like a really well organized race! Great job on the trails as it looks like some of the sections were pretty difficult.

    1. It was a lot of fun and just challenging enough :) I am not ready to climb bigger hills yet.

  11. Good strategy to just walk the hills! That's what I always did when I ran trail because we'd be out there for several hours, it's better to conserve energy.

  12. OMG I could never run a race loop. That drives me nuts.
    I hope that your foot improves and you will be in grate shape come December !

    1. Haha, I was okay going around 4 times, but the thought of 25 and 20 times seems tough to me! Kudos to those that did it:)


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