Castlewood Cup 15K trail race

Facebook peer pressure, nerves, don't cry for QT (Argentina), and introductions

It's hard to believe that it's nearly the end of February and today was my first race of 2011, but that appears to be the case.  My entry in this one is proof of the power of social networking; Big River Running sent emails to all participants in last October's Skippo 20K and I never got around to registering.  But then I kept seeing its Facebook posts about "only" ___ more spots in the race, and when it got down to 40 left, I caved.  I'm so glad I did!

I was excited all yesterday about getting to race today, but this morning I woke up nervous.  I don't know why I get nervous before a race; it's not like there's any pressure.  I am in no contention for a win!  Nerves aside, I was looking forward to the race as well as getting to meet/see a combination of "real life" and internet friends (fondly referred to by my husband as "your friends you don't know").  Before I could meet anyone, though, I had to actually get there.

I left for Castlewood a little later than I'd planned but made at least one smart decision this morning.  There's a QT gas station at the top of the road that leads down to Castlewood, and I decided to stop there and use their bathroom rather than wait in line at the park (don't feel sorry for them...I spend enough money there that they should give me my own bathroom!).  When I got into the park, I was stuck in traffic for about 10 minutes while a truck blocked the only road back to the parking that was still available, and the lines for the porta-potties were, as usual, loooong.

So...parking.  The closest spot was literally 1/2 mile away, and by the time I was parked I think it was 9:30 or so with the race starting at 10.  So I jogged the 1/2 mile to the race check-in, jogged 1/2 mile back to my car to dump off my sweatshirt, and another 1/2 mile back to the race start.  Other than being a little stressed about being at the start on time, it was a nice enforced warm-up.

Ever since volunteering at the Castlewood 8-hour adventure race, I've been stalking following the blog of an adventure racing team called Team Virtus.  If you're interested in adventure racing or just enjoy a good story, check out their blog! Just make sure you have time, because they're at least as wordy as I am.  Anyway, I knew Luke and Drew from the team were running in today's race, so I kept an eye out for them...and ended up running into them (not literally) on my return trip to my car. 

I also met my Facebook friend Emily, who was introduced to me by my doctor/runner friend Rachel. Thanks, Rachel! I got to see my Daily Mile (and now real life) Doug, who'd been "kind" enough to transfer his Pere Marquette number to me and then heckle me mercilessly as I struggled up and slid down the muddy hill at that race.  Unfortunately, I missed a Daily Mile meetup due to all of my running back and forth between my car and the starting line.  I was also supposed to meet up with some of my new teammates in our local tri club Metro Tri Club/Team Godzilla.  I recently joined, and they had a shirt to give me.  Once I saw the 'Zilla shirts, I knew right where to go.

Keith, Jim, Vanessa, and Jim
One of the reasons I have a hard time joining groups is being worried about not fitting in, especially when I've seen the times some of the tri club people have posted.  Since some of the people I've been running with lately are members, though, I got up the courage and took the plunge.  And, again, I'm so glad I did!  What a nice welcome I had to the club (more on that later)...and I found them just in time to get into the group picture (which I don't have a copy of or I'd post it...just imagine me in Vanessa's place, and you get the idea).

The part where I tell you about the race:

I ran a 20K last October at Castlewood, so I kind of knew what to expect.  If you're interested, you can check out this link to information and video/pictures of the course.  The park has lots of great trails and hills and lots of nice technical singletrack, and these challenges were made more interesting by a combination of melting snow and yesterday's rain.  We started running across a soggy field and then, I think, along the treeline.  Luke pulled up next to me near the start, so we got a chance to talk adventure racing, running, etc.  It's funny...when you read someone's blog, you already know a lot of their stories even though you haven't met them.  He told me not to worry about holding back for him, and I thought, Holding back? This is my pace!

Next up was the big hill.  I ran a little ways up before I had to walk.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Luke run by in his red shirt.  Oh, he thought I was holding back, and he's passing meNow, I'm not that competitive, but I try to give a very realistic picture of what I can (or can't) do on my blog, so it's a little embarassing to not live up to what someone who's read it expects of me.

Castlewood Cup-1st big hill
But, oh, well...what do you do.  I started running again at the top of the hill.  I kept seeing Luke's red shirt in the distance, taunting me.  I'm used to being the slow one, but I was definitely hoping to catch back up.  And the nice thing about going uphill is that you get to go back down.  So I just kept on running at my pace and enjoying the trail until I came to the first aid station.  I grabbed a gatorade and a gel and walked for a few steps so I wasn't wearing my drink in the 35 degree weather.  All of a sudden, there's Luke.  I'd been watching the wrong red shirt.  Turns out our paces were pretty evenly matched, so we ended up running almost the whole race together.

Castlewood Cup
I loved this course.  It only had a couple of truly nasty hills; most of the hills were rolling.  So fun.  There were a few places I actually laughed out loud, I was having so much fun.  And though I definitely had to do some walking on the uphills, I had a blast on the downhills.  I'm thinking back to the Skippo, where I fell twice last year, and to the first time I started running on the SIUE trails and how I walked all but the gentlest downhills.  I'm still a plodder uphill, but I felt like a mountain goat running down.

Castlewood Cup--look how fast I was going
OK, it may not be a big hill, but just look how fast I was running! :)

Castlewood Cup
Luke was cruising. 
(sorry...sweaty phones take lousy pictures)
The trail definitely had some muddy spots, but overall it was pretty good.  I'm sure the hills and the rocky terrain helped.  Even the mud wasn't too bad to run in.  My very favorite part of the course was the rolling section.  Lots of up and downs to keep you going.  I felt strong through about mile 6 or 7 and then began to  fade.  Still, there was this guy in front of me who was going just too slow, and there was no room to get around him.  I just hung behind him for a little bit.  I'm not that strong of a runner, so I really don't want to pass someone and then not be able to maintain that pace.  After a while, though, I got sick of hanging back, said "on your left", and got around.  I was a lot happier, and I'm sure he was thrilled to get the sound of my gasping breath out of his ear.

We had to run through another field, and then we came down to the creek crossing.

Castlewood Cup--water crossing
Of course, getting this picture for you means that the photographer's picture of me will have me holding my phone.
It was a little over ankle deep and cold, but it was fun to run through.  Plus, running through the water left my running shoes much cleaner than they would have been otherwise!  I'm glad it was near the end of the race so that I wasn't running too long in wet shoes.   One note about shoes: I'm sooo glad I got trail shoes.  When I last ran at Castlewood, I wore my regular running shoes, and my feet were killing me by the last couple of miles.  Granted, this race was 5K shorter, but I don't think that would've been an issue.  I was really thankful for the more substantial tread on the rocky trail surfaces.  It made a big difference.

Mile 7 (don't remember whether that was before or after the creek crossing) is where I started feeling a mental drag.  I was tired.  I so wanted to walk.  And yet, how do you walk with just 2 miles to go?  No way.  Well, OK, I would have if there'd been a big enough hill to justify it, but no such "luck".  :) What was lucky, though, was the company.  First of all, Luke was great company during the race.  Plenty to talk about (when I could breathe), and knowing he was right there definitely kept me pushing myself.  Then, around the last mile, some of the Zillas came back and found me.

Castlewood Cup
Photo credit: Keith Timmons
That looks like it's going to be a good front or mid-foot strike, wouldn't you say?
 I never have "fans" at a race because it's just not my family's thing.  Which I get.  Something is always going on, and it's not all that fun to stand around and wait for someone to run past so you can yell their name once and then wait for another hour.  I remember that from when my older boys and niece did XC and track, and I wish I could go back now with a love of running and watch them again...because now I get it.  But that made it that much cooler when Vanessa, who'd met me maybe an hour earlier, called "Go Kate!" when I ran past her picture-taking spot, and that much nicer to have these guys I just met come back and run me in.

They kept me talking and pushing my way along, and I actually have pictures of myself running thanks to them! Very cool.  And I definitely needed the encouragement through the last half mile or so, which was across another open field.  I'd rather run on the trails any time, and the end of the route seemed to go on forever. 

Castlewood Cup
Photo credit: Keith Timmons
Attempting to a) smile for the camera and b) not die
I have to say, I was so thrilled to cross the finish line.  The guys were telling me to give it all I had, and I was thinking, This is a I have!! ...but the club motto is "no wimps or whiners", so I did my best to live up to it.  I didn't throw up at the end, so I must've had something left.  Maybe next time...

Not such a dirty girl:

The trails definitely had some muddy spots, and while the creek crossing washed a lot of it off, the way to the finish line was through a bit of a swamp.  Overall, though, I stayed relatively clean:

 Not too muddy  Castlewood Cup

Cute new socks--with a hole! :( yeah, they're getting returned

One sad note.  My new Smartwool socks, which I bought solely because I was hoping they'd stay comfortable when wet, performed as I'd hoped...until I took off my shoe and saw the hold in the toe.  :(

R.I.P., cute socks.
Yeah...they'll be going back to the store.  I'd expect even my cheapo cotton socks (that I don't wear anymore but can't quite make myself throw away) to withstand a 9.3 mile run...I certainly expect that of $14 socks.  Hopefully the store is willing to exchange them. 

The details:

Time: 1:43:19 (11:06 avg.)
Overall: 230/322
Women: 61/112
Age group: 8/18

Quite possibly my favorite race yet.  Well done, Big River Running.

The "bling":

Yea!  I finally have an entry in the Run for the Bling of It challenge. 

Castlewood Cup bling
Who can't use a hoodie? :)
Our only bling for this race was a hooded sweatshirt.  Very comfy, and it came in handy for the ride home!


  1. You have the bestest best race report, truly felt like I was there with ya - probably why I'm so tired right now :). And look at your AG placement, you are sone stud woman!! I'm glad you got out there afterall, now you even have a new favorite race!! Trail races are the best and I hope you get to do more soon. Nice done, Chica!!!!

  2. Team Godzilla is awesome (slightly biased), you will fit right in as I am sure you have figured out already.

  3. Hooray for your Run for the Bling of it BLING!

    My favorite part was the laughing out loud for the pure joy of the run and having so much fun. WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  4. Love the bling! Good job getting out there and doing what looks like a tough race!

  5. Go You!!! Are you sure your toenails weren't too long? Just kidding! Good Job, I love your marathon posts- it motivates me!Not to run, but to try out ........bathrooms. Kidding again. You really are Super Kate!

  6. Super run Kate, well done! Great report on a great run. I love everything about this race. Great bling as well. I often have to say goodbye to socks after a trail race. Have a good week!

  7. Great report, and an even greater race! You pulled me to a MUCH better finish than I could have accomplished on my own. Thanks! Keep doing what you're doing, and you're going to blow that marathon away.

  8. I had to laugh when I looked at your pictures in your blog. My daughter was in the photo :) That was a tough hill and a tough race. I did it last year, unfortunately, I didn't beat my time. Oh well, It was a joy to be in the woods and participating in such an awesome race. Great job to you!

  9. Congrats on a great race! Love the "your friends you don't know" comment. My wife says you are going to race with "that guy/girl you met on the internet".

    Sorry if my Smartwool post got you to buy defective socks. Hopefully your feet were at least warm. I have no desire to run through a 35 degree creek.

  10. I would like to point out that some of your family is into your running. Also, I know that I am the king of cotton, but I have started wearing nike dry fit socks, and they do a nice job keeping the toe nails contained. (feet warm too)

  11. Thanks, everybody! I think this is going to be one of those races that I feel a little homesick for. Next year...

    Jim, so true. My one family fan. And you, too, could've taken my pictures from the finish line after you finished long before me if it wasn't for the distance and your darn ankle.

  12. This is great! Looks so fun. And I love the pictures of you! Congrats!

  13. Great race report and sounds like you had a blast, sometimes it's those last minute ones that are the best. Looks like a really nice place to run as well! Cheers!

  14. Congrats! Great favorite part of trail runnign is water crossings!

    Bummer about those Smartwool socks?!?! I have logged 100's of trail miles in mine and they are holding strong, maybe it was a bad pair?

  15. That hill was nasty. Nice job! Good to get that one out of the way.

  16. NICE work!!! I've never ran a trail race in my life but every time I see pictures of one I get the itch. (not THAT itch)

    Jesus, you ran so hard you blew out a sock. :)

  17. Congrats! Looks like a fun race -- I love trail runs.
    Sorry about the sock, though! I love Smartwool (in the winter I even run in Smartwool ski socks) and haven't had any problems with them but yeah, for $14, they should be able to last 9.3 miles.

  18. I wish I could have been there, but my lazy butt waited to long and it was already full before I tried to sign up. Sounds like it was a great time.

  19. Amazing!! I was thinking the same thing as other definitely live up to your name...SUPER KATE. I cry when there's a .025 degree incline. Hate hills and uneven terrain!!! How do you do it? :o) rock on!!

    Ps sweatshirts are always a bonus especially since you can wear it on days after the race and no one looks at you weird :o)


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