... to run a half marathon on a private nature preserve and survive!
Today was the inaugural Race For The Land Half Marathon and 8k. Those of you that have been following my blog for awhile know that back in Feb I ran my first half marathon. I finished but with serious IT band pain. I've been working hard on overcoming my IT band woes since then. So this half marathon was a big test to see if I finally have the hang of keeping it happy.
Today's temps were warmer and more humid than what we've been training in but I brought my super cool bandanna that I can pack with ice and put around my neck. (It's a great idea Laura and Meredith and our plan was to do the race together, through thick and thin. The trails today surprised us. We knew we wouldn't be climbing up,up, and up any mountains. But, what we didn't know was that it was going to be: straight up, down, up, down, straight up, straight down, a tiny flat bit, up, down, and rinse and repeat more times than I care to count. (Garmin says 6,700 feet of elevation gain and loss.)
The trail markings were difficult to follow. Main problem is that when you are running such rough trails you don't look up long enough to see all the ribbons marking the trail, so you tend to miss some important turns. We did some extra mileage today, not sure how much but I'll guess about a quarter to half a mile. But we got off easy. Around mile 5 a pack of faster runners came upon us from behind. They did an extra loop somewhere. Luckily everyone was in good spirits about it, it's just the nature of trail running that at some point you will get lost during a race. The fast group left us behind pretty quickly but it would not be the last we would see of them. Pretty much everyone we encountered said they had gotten lost. There were even half marathoners that finished at the 8k finish missing about 3 miles of trail. The fast pack we met probably did a 16 mile half marathon today.
I'm gonna guess around mile 7 we got confused and I headed up a big steep gravel road ahead of our little pack to scout for marking ribbons. Upon reaching the top I hear a stampede of runners. It's our pack of fast runners, again, and they are lost, again. We blaze back down to the last ribbon we saw and all look around to see where we went wrong. I'm gonna guess there were about 15 of us standing there scratching our heads. Finally someone sees some ribbons up the side of the gravel road heading off into oblivion. Off we go up the tiny path. Yet again we miss a turn due to the fact that we were all concentrating on looking where to put our feet so we don't break an ankle. So we end up in the woods with no trail. Announcements are made to turn around and hunt for the missed turn. Thank goodness that was the last time we were lost. The trails got easier to follow after that. It really took a village today to make it out of the trail system.
It's a good thing we didn't get lost again. Laura was having a rough go of it today and I don't think she could have physically or mentally taken one more sidetrack. I really felt bad that Laura wasn't doing well. She rarely had a bad run during our training but today just wasn't her day. We did our best to keep her going at the end. We walked a lot the last few miles. We pulled ourselves together to run for the finish and all crossed it together. I was bittersweet for me. I finished it with a happy IT band but also with a friend in rough shape. I would have traded my elation of having a happy leg for Laura having a better run. Hopefully this won't be her last half marathon. I really think she needs a fall or winter race. I told her when we started this journey that they were nuts for picking a June half marathon, now they believe me!