ABOUT THE SERIES
I first learned about THIS series around January sometime. I was too scared to sign up for the February race, so I passed. I did, however, sign up for the March and April races. Looking back, I wished I would have signed up for the 1st one...oh well. I rarely run trails, so the March race was probably about my 2nd time this year running trails. Prior to the March race, I looked up the February results and saw that the last few people finished around an hour and a half. This set my goal time at anything faster than an hour and a half. I just didn't want to come in last.
The morning of the March race, I figured out my pace goals. If I wanted to be an hour and half, I had to run faster than an average of 18 minutes miles. I wasn't sure how this was going to work out since I wasn't used to the climbing. The race pretty much began with uphill which lasted for two very long miles. This gave me some opportunities to briefly, and I mean VERY briefly, speak with a few people. I met a very nice man who gave me a few encouraging words to help me up the last few hills. His name was Jim. Jim left me in the dust. I was watching my garmin and even with walking and some jogging, I was at a 15-16 minute mile. So, mid race, I up'd my goal to an hour 15 minutes. The end of the race finishes with about 3/4 miles on flat fire road. When I came out of the trail onto that fire road, guess who was walking off to the side? Jim! He helped me up, so I figured the least I could do was to help him finish. It was my turn to give the encouraging words. We were able to sprint our way to the finish. Our finishing time was one hour and 44 seconds. WAY better than I thought. I felt the climbing the whole next day and it hurt! Age group results can be found HERE.
The April race happened this past weekend, the 16th. My new goal? To finish in less than an hour. It was very hot this time and I don't do well in heat, so I was worried. This time, Alex ran it with me. We had the opportunity to run the trail a few weeks ago, so the practice was nice. This time, I knew what to expect. The race started and about a half mile in, I realized I forgot to set my garmin. DARN IT! My average pace, timing, EVERYTHING was off! I felt like I was running blind. I tried to run as much as possible knowing that the pain would be gone after the second mile aka the top of the hill. It was so hot that I could feel my heartbeat in my face. I made it to the top and was glad that part was over. Immediately after the top of the hill is a fire road that is all down hill, which is right before you hit the single track. I knew that my best bet was to pass as many people as I could on that fire road before I hit the single track so I wouldn't get stuck behind anyone. So I ran as fast as I could without falling on my face. I managed to pass quite a few people and made my way into the single track. My finish this time wasn't as strong as last time and since my garmin was off, I had no idea what my time was, so I pushed as hard as I could. I came around the corner and YESS!!!! 56 minutes was on the clock. Finishing time - 56 minutes 20 seconds. WOO HOO! Alex did great too. He finished in one hour and three minutes. Not bad for an old guy. :) Age group results can be found HERE. After the race, they serve Chili, which I opted out of this time. I just had water and bananas. BUT...guess who I saw getting Chili? JIM! He didn't beat our race #2 time, but he still did great considering he is nursing an injury.
I have learned alot about my body since I started running. How fast I can go; how hard I can push myself before I puke; what my legs are capable of; how my arms can get sore from running; how I start kicking the inside of my right ankle as I run when I start getting tired; how important posture is; how important it is to relax my shoulders. Then, just when I thought I couldn't learn more, I did thanks to these races. I learned how beautiful the pay off is when you get to the top of a hill; how motivated runners really are; how far a few encouraging words can go; how to control my run when going down hill; how going down hill can sometime be more painful than going up hill; and most importantly, how important coffee really is before a race.