The weather forecast for the past week was enough to make a person crazy. It called for storms all weekend. Then beautiful weather. Then the storms were back for race day. I was not looking forward to the thought of running 13 miles in the rain, but I tried to console myself with the thought that horrible weather would make the blog story that much better. By Saturday's bike ride, though, I was feeling cautiously optimistic about our chances of staying dry...from the waist up, anyway.
It's fitting that the weather was almost awful, because it was pretty crappy at the race that led to me running Quivering Quads. Back in December, after having my butt kicked by the Pere Marquette run, I ran into my friend Lindsay in the hall. She and her friend were planning to run Quivering Quads "for fun", and somebody said, "Hey, you should run it, too!" So being the sheep that I am, I dutifully registered. I never actually got out to train with them, but I did do a lot of trail running in the space between the two races.
So, there I was getting up at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday to shave my legs (don't judge me; I have vast mud experience and know that mud will cling to and accentuate any leg hair present, and I would prefer to have one less reason to hate my race pictures) and wondering why the heck I couldn't find a hobby that would allow me to sleep in. I was careful to make it out of the house in plenty of time to meet my tri club teammates, having already been tarred with the tardy brush ("Looks like we've got us some new trail runners...we just need to get one of them a watch!") at a Saturday run. Once again, my decision to join the club has been more than vindicated. This is about the nicest, most supportive group of people I've ever met, and the fact that they're kickass athletes makes it even more fun.
And if the ride was nice, hanging out before the race was even better. When I started running last year, I was lucky if I saw one person that I knew at a race. This was a completely different experience. I saw a friend from school and her husband, three girls I'd ridden with the day before, a woman I'd ridden with on a Trailnet ride last year, all the tri club people I'd met, and of course Lindsay and her husband. Because all but the first 1.8 miles was on singletrack, the race had a wave start. Since my wave didn't leave until 39 minutes after the official race beginning, I had plenty of time to relax and hang out...and there was never a long line for the bathrooms, which is always a plus!
|Waiting with my wave. You can see the next wave to leave ahead of us.|
|The beginning...check out the nice soggy trail. :)|
|More of the quality photography that keeps you people coming back. :)|
|One of the many creek crossings|
Up until the second water stop, at mile 4.6, I was even thinking that I might be running too hard. I felt that good, like I was flying, and I felt super strong. And then, I made the mistake of checking my time. 58 minutes and change. Less than a 12 minute mile. That was a mental blow. All of the sudden, I felt like I was struggling. It was completely all in my head, but it probably took me another mile to start having fun again.
|Hills. Sigh. They're not my friends.|
|Coming out of the deepest creek crossing|
For the picture above, I actually stopped to take a picture of my feet in the deep water, tried taking a picture of the bank, backed up to get a better angle, and still never managed to get a picture of the water or how deep it was. Time well spent. :P The race covered a nice mix of terrain. It verged from muddy lower areas, lots of hills, some packed dirt trails, some that were covered in fine rock, and some with larger rocks and roots. You definitely had to pay attention to where you were going. I had some near ankle turns, but I felt really confident running on the trail and never fell. (I think that's two races in a row, so I'm probably in for a doozy of a fall.)
|Photo credit: Fleet Feet|
|Not sure what's up with the arms. Also, I'd have been a lot dirtier if it wasn't for this creek crossing. Photo credit: Fleet Feet|
A couple of guys came up behind me on one of the hills that I was running. I offered to move, and the guy said he'd let me know when he was ready to pass. Eventually I moved aside, and they made a remark about how I'd be passing them again in 5 minutes. I knew that was highly unlikely...seems like once I get passed, I lose the impetus to keep up the pace. As we hit the very next hill, though, they slowed enough that I had to go around them again. Go figure. I didn't see them for a whileafter I passed, but we ended up leapfrogging a few times and then running together for a while. It was nice to have some company and conversation. Thanks, Corey and AJ!
|Running with my new friends...I didn't end the race in the lead.|
|He was also kind enough to get a rear view, which I'm only sharing because it's less painful than the close up of my face as I ran past. Sigh. I'm much cuter in my imagination than in reality. Photo "credit": Keith Timmins|
Q: How much Body Glide do I need to keep my thighs from rubbing together?
A: More than what I used. :( Nasty chafing. Boo.
On the plus side of the medical equation, my poor blistered feet held up very well. I Body Glide-ed all of my feet and put bandaids over the spots that blistered so badly on last week's long run. I wore a (new) pair of SmartWool socks, and I had no problems at all. Overall, my entire body felt pretty good, other than the ankle that really wanted to get twisted. Even my knee held out well.
Corey took off with a little more than a mile to go, and now it was AJ dragging me rather than me being in the lead. We came back through the water stop at the point of the figure eight, and I could really have used a drink. Everbody was just sitting at the table. I wanted a drink, but I wanted to be finished more. AJ said something about not remembering passing something and thinking that we still needed to go up some big hill. I replied, "Nope. It's downhill the rest of the way. With a tailwind."
Unfortunately, my wishful thinking didn't pan out.
|Now, remember, that time doesn't reflect my wave start. Subtract 39 minutes.|
My teacher friend Erin, who was baptized into the craziness of trail running with this race, had a few thoughts on it, too, and shared them last night via Facebook. (I'm using this with her permission.)
TOP 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE RUNNING A TRAIL HALF MARATHON
10. Road running shoes do NOT work on trails.
9. Sometimes old people are faster than you think.
8. Don't underestimate the 250 lb kid because he is deceptively athletic as well.
7. "Trail running" isn't really running...it's actually scaling/climbing/trudging across muddy terrain. With rocks.
6. Ryan (her brother) will still SMOKE YO' ASS despite #7.
5. When choosing names for one's blisters, one must be more creative than "Blister #1, Blister #2..."
4. "The mind is willing, but the body is not able," was surely coined while running a trail 1/2 marathon.
3. When prevention of injury is your NUMBER ONE PRIORITY you might consider an alternative hobby.
2. If Kate ever recommends a race, save yourself the blisters & tell her you need to wash your hair that day.
1. Regardless of age, YOU TOO can get a participation medal after crawling trhough mud, hurdling fallen logs, crossing multiple streams, and creatively running around rocks. You might die trying, but you'll still have a medal.
|Finisher's medal (& obligatory "Got Bling" picture)|
Chip time: 2:46:20 (12:42/mi)
Age group: 12/24
Overall: 224/364 (but 450 people were registered, so I'm just going to assume that nearly 100 people didn't finish and I was right smack in the middle. :)
Post-race meal: 54th Street Grill chicken avocado sandwich, onion rings, strawberry margarita
Post-race meal guilt: Absolutely none