Friday I made a last minute decision to run the 1st annual HardCORE Serious Trail Runner 8k at the US National White Water Center. I had known about this race for a while but was having a difficult time deciding whether to run it or not due to the fact that it is on the Saturday before my first half marathon.
I came down with another cold last week, second one in two months. I was unable to get in my last planned long run last Sunday and had been trying to find time to squeeze in an 8-10 mile run by this Saturday. I played the week by ear. When I woke up each day I assessed my physical conditions and planned my run according to how well, or not well, I felt. That meant that I never ran more than 4.5 miles this past week. What should have been 13-14 on Sunday was 4.5 and all the rest were around 3. I still kept up the hope that I would wake up one day and feel ready for a longer run. Alas, that day didn't come. My friend Maggie sent me a message on Friday asking if I was racing Saturday. I decided I may as well go and have fun since I wasn't going to do a longer run after all. Later that day Kay also sent me a message as well about the race. All signs pointed to this race being a good thing for me.
Soon after arriving at the WWC, Maggie found me at the registration table looking confused and out of sorts. I didn't seem to have all my lights on yet. It was too cold and my head was splitting from sinus pressure, sadly something I'm getting used to living with lately. We chatted and seemed to need to go back and forth to our cars a lot as we remembered to grab stuff or drop off clothing no longer needed as it warmed up. Kay showed up a little bit later and introductions were made. There were lots of other people there that I know, most of them moms I know from my neck of the woods. There's always something inspiring to me about fellow mom runners, no matter what their ability or experience.
Maggie and I lined up at the back of the pack for the start of the race. My plan was to stick with Maggie if I could. She told me to feel free to run my own race if her pace turned out to be too slow for my easy pace. The race started and we trotted off at an easy pace. By the end of the first quarter mile we were dead last, a place I've never been in before. We chatted and enjoyed some socializing. Upon spotting the first photographer I hammed it up real good with some jazz hands. At the first hill we actually passed someone! She stayed right behind us for that first mile. I finally told Maggie I was moving on at the end of the first mile, even at my easy pace I was slowly leaving her behind.
After leaving Maggie I picked a comfortably hard pace and started picking my way past other runners. It's amazing how much easier it is to pass on trails when the runner you are passing is significantly slower. I kept reminding myself not to go too hard since I didn't need to get hurt before my half marathon in a week. The trails they picked were fairly moderate except for two large hills. I came upon the first big hill that never seemed to end and looked up to see 90% of the runners walking up it. I made the decision right then to do my best to make it to the top without walking. At the top I was relieved to find we had a nice quick downhill for a minute, everyone knows I'm all about the downhill on trails. The descent ended when the trailed opened up on a power line that went straight up. Great, another killer hill, not as long as the last one but much more steep. Again 90% of the runners were walking. And again I vowed to make it to the top without walking. After reaching the top I realized there was only about a mile left and I was still feeling good.
In the last mile I kept passing people. It felt good to have the legs to even pass on the hills, a rare feat for me. The races at the White Water Center always end with a short steep hill less than 0.1 miles from the finish. I passed several people coming up that hill and then kicked it up a notch for the finish, passing at least two more runners. I finished with a time of 52:53. That's an average of 10:39 a mile. Not too bad since my first mile was more than a 12:00 mile. According to my Garmin the rest of my miles were all under 10:00 except for the mile that had the big hill and that was a 10:21 mile.
This race made me realize that even without that last long run I am ready for the half marathon. The hills really sealed the deal for giving me the confidence I need for next week. I've been so stressed about missing that last long run, but I am stressed no more!
The race was well run and the shirt was a nice long sleeve technical shirt, my first technical shirt score from a race! They had one water stop that could be accessed at the top of both hills. There were plenty of volunteers on the course to point us in the right direction. I also spotted at least two photographers, the one girl kept getting lucky enough for me to do my jazz hands for her.
After all the awards were over and the crowd started to thin I stayed and chatted with Kay. She mentioned to me something I had already been thinking about on my own. She said she noticed my log entries are starting to get slower. I told her I had noticed it too. We had a good conversation about me needing to get back on track with the speed. She's like me, not the fastest ever but fast enough to place in our age groups. She also finds more joy in going fast than just logging long slow miles, just like me. It's amazing how we are on the same page with what we enjoy about running and what we were both thinking about what I needed to start focusing on. Now that I've got my mileage up and have proven I can keep my IT band under control it's time to get some speed back in the equation after I recover from my half marathon. I got so wrapped up in building miles that I started doing too much easy running and my runs have little by little been getting slower. So, my plan is to hold steady at my current weekly mileage and start adding some speed again. I'm excited to see what I can do this spring!
Now I must mention the Sunshine Award.
My newest running buddy,Laura of http://myreasontorun.blogspot.com/ , gave me a Sunshine award the other day on her blog. I am honored that she gave me this award because I am always inspired by her as a mom and runner. She amazes me with what she is doing to raise money for the Joubert Foundation. To work part time, take care of a child with special needs, train for a 10k, and set up Jog for Joubert to raise money and awareness is more than I could imagine having the energy for. She inspires me that I can do all the things that I need and want to do. So I send her back the same award she has bestowed upon me.
Be sure to check out Laura's blog because she has a great basket of running goodies that she is raffling off to raise money for the Joubert Foundation. Check it out!