Oh, the downhills always get me. Early in the season, anyway. At least a mile of today’s race was a fun exercise in sideache management.
Ah well, that’s what a race is about: struggle. That, and chirping, creaking frogs, at least, for this race.
I arrived at Hyland as planned, 2 hours early, which was completely unnecessary. I planned it that way, I suppose, because I was excited and I even got up even before the alarm went off. Steve and I went on vacation last week, and flew back yesterday so that I could run this team race with Maggie, Mike, and Gaby: the 50k team race that is part of the Trail Mix Races.
The source of excitement, aside from it being a race: In the early part of the winter, I had been considering running the 25k version alone, but I’d been having trouble getting in longer training runs, during a winter that put ice on the sidewalks for weeks at a time. About 8 weeks ago I discovered this team version, which looked like the perfect alternative, for several reasons: I could easily train for a 12.5k (7.5 mile) race in April; the weather could go sour, but we’d only be out in it for about an hour; and I’d get to expose some friends to the joys of trail running.
The rest of the team, which we named “Packen wir’s an,” or German for “Let’s do it,” arrived within 20 minutes of the starting horn. I distributed numbers, we all remarked at the fabulous weather (60 degrees and partly cloudy; light wind) and friendly atmosphere, and then we were off, over a mix of pavement, grass, compact dirt, weird landscaping netting that ensnared me once, going up and down quite a few small hills, around parts of a lake and marshes. We spread out pretty early, though somewhere in mile two Mike blasted past me, then later, past Maggie, and he finished first among our team, in something like 1:10. He ran back to pace me, and then Gaby, in to the finish chute.
I’m fairly happy with my time (official: 1:14:45), but even so, I had hoped to feel better during the race. I’m choosing to attribute the difficulty to my 9 mile beach run in Nags Head, North Carolina (see above photo for part of the scenery) on Tuesday, which was delicious, and speedier than expected, but was also accomplished awfully close to race day.
So, my first 2009 race, and the first race of my 40s, is done, and I believe I have successfully gotten at least one more person interested in trail running. Woot! And, I am once again excited to get ready for another race.