For the past 2 weeks, I have been looking for a local race to run. I had planned to run the Steelers 5K on Labor Day, but timing/logistics just didn’t work out. At the same time, my friend Kelsey was also looking for a race to run. Together we kept scouring the race schedule and finally, Kelsey found the FAAP Fall Classic 5K/10K. We actually were interested in the 10K, so we both pulled the trigger and signed up.
I was nervous. Why? Because this race said it was a trail race and a fair amount of the race was on the Rachel Carson Trail. Back in 2008 I actually completed the Rachel Carson Half Challenge. It was 19 miles of brutal hiking through natural trails. It took me 6:51:35. So, based on my memories from that, any type of trail that involved RC Trails can potentially be brutal. I also was just scared out of pants that I would fall flat on my face because I tripped on a rock or something. Also, since Kelsey and I kept going back and forth on twitter about the race, Dusty actually piped in and said she ran the race last year and confirming my fears, that the 10K course was technical and could be hazardous (OK, maybe not hazardous, but tough).
I actually got up early, made oatmeal and some hot tea and slowly got myself together for the race. Kelsey on the other hand decided to keep sleeping and decided to bail on the race. She had a late night of football. As compared to the morning before, this was amazing race weather. I also decided I was going to knock down to the 5K. Between my lack luster long run Saturday morning and my fears of falling just made it make sense.
When I arrived at North Park for the race, I quickly headed up to registration to pick up my 10K bib. I told them I wanted to switch races and they gladly took the 10K bib and gave me the blue 5K bib. I then went to the next table down to pick up my race t-shirt and goodie bag. The goodie bag consisted of trial size deodorant and Advil. Nothing fancy, but for $20 and maybe only 110 runners signing up, it was good enough for me.
As I was getting myself together at the car, a fellow runner started talking to me about the 10K and how many times she fell last year. This made me feel better about my switch to the 5K and I wasn’t just wimping out (OK, maybe I was, so what?). I made my way back to the start line and got to meet Dusty in real life!! I love when I get to meet twitter friends in person.
The 10K was scheduled to go off at 9am but just prior, the race director made an announcement that the start would be slightly delayed as he wanted to give everyone a change to pick up their bibs. Honestly, if there weren’t there by then, they weren’t coming, but this just showed how intimate and small this race was. No one seemed to mind either.There was no start pistol or horn, but instead a gong. At the sound of 3,2,1, GONG, the runners were off!
About 10-15 minutes later, the 5K runners were instructed to make it to the start line. Since there was no chip timing for this race, I lined up on the start line to get the most accurate time possible. The race director said the 5K course was 90% trails, but I would say it’s more like 75% trails. The start of the race is on flat pavement and then you quickly turn into the woods. The first part of the trail was easier to maneuver. It was a wider part of the trail, so people started passing each other and/or settling in. I was told a hill was coming up at a half mile in, so I wanted to actually go around a 9:15/mile until I got to this point and then I would fall way back. I was OK with that move. Once I got to the hill, people did pass me but I kept moving.
After climbing the first hill we let out into another pavement area on the back side of some fields. At one mile in we were back on the trails. This time though it was much narrow, rockier and many more roots protruding from the ground. No one really passed at this point until we were back out on pavement about 1.2 miles later. At one point we actually passed behind the registration area and I head a cheer, looked behind me and realized Dusty was hot on my heels! About 5 minutes later, Dusty almost saw me go face first right on the trail. My right foot snatched a root and I almost saw myself eating dirt. Lucky enough I was able to right myself and get myself together and keep running. Needless to say though, my heart was pumping after that one!
We made it back onto the road around the North Park pool and back to the other side into the woods. Here I actually made my move to pass one of the girls in front of me. Good thing because she was who finished 4th in our age group. However, at the same time as we were going up the hill I was passed by the 2nd place girl in our age group. Back on the trial, I thought it would be flat until the end. Nope, I was wrong. We had one more hill! These were small hills for the most part, but still tough.
There was one woman who was just ahead of me the entire race and once we got out of the trails and back on the pavement for the last bit, I was determined to get her. I started to pick it up, she picked it up and finally with about 200m to go I just let it go. I got her, don’t worry 🙂
My time was slow, but somehow it was good enough to snag 3rd in my age group. This was the first age group award for me! The award was a hand crafted bamboo medal. Dusty also snagged 3rd in her age group!! She said I kept her going & pacing her through the race. I’m glad I could help her finish strong.
After the race, I headed to Panera for lunch since it was on the way home. I ordered a bowl of broccoli cheddar and 1/2 Bacon Turkey Bravo Sandwich and crushed in about 2 seconds flat. This combo is quickly becoming my favorite and boy, I was craving it! I had eaten breakfast so early, so by the time I got to Panera it was time to chow down! I’m so lucky that I can refuel at a place like that. I was so full from lunch and tired from the race, that once I got home, I passed out for a nice little nap.
Maybe next year I will take the plunge and run the 10K. Even if I chicken out again, if you are local, I would add this race to your calendar. It’s fun, cheap & very different than your typical 5K/10K. If I do, I’ll just make sure to wrap myself up in bubble wrap before I start. Trail running is something I’ve been interested in, but also scared to really give it a go. I’m clumsy. I fall flat on my face when just standing there. Who knows what I would do to myself running through along the trails.
Official finish time:
33:02.09; 10:39/mile (My watch said 32:58)
3/5, 25-29, Females
11/31, Overall Females
Any advice for someone thinking of giving trail running a go?