This morning I was incredibly nervous about my 1st Trail Race! Was it ok that I was wearing regular road running shoes? How important is it to wear trail shoes? Would it be very slippery slopes? Would they provide water at specific locations or would I have to carry my own? Why does everyone look so fit? Where were the people that look like my fitness level? Would I finish last?
I intended to pack all my gear last night before going to bed so I would have every thing I would need and would not be rushed this morning. But... I stayed up late considering registering for a marathon and updating Facebook, etc. Big mistake. I set the alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. I left the house 45 minutes later after packing my gear bag with extra clothes in case I got filthy muddy or soaking wet. I left the house at 6:15 a.m. and picked up an Egg McMuffin on the way. Packet pick-up began at 7 a.m. and I arrived at Georgia International Horse Park, in Conyers, shortly after 7 a.m. I got my goody bag, race number and timing chip and then returned to my warm car. It was 45 degrees. There weren't safety pins in the packet, but luckily I keep 7 attached to my gear bag so I didn't have to go back out in the cold to get some. I pinned my number (178) on my shirt and looked through the goody bag. The race shirt is a red short-sleeve shirt. The goodies included an REI coupon for 15% off, a packet of gu gel, a packet of electrolytes, and a coupon for free sunglasses, amongst other minor things. At about 7:45 a.m. I realized that I had forgotten a very important item: my Garmin watch! How was I going to get through a race without a watch? I always wear it when running! I can't run without a watch! OMG what am I going to do???
The race started at 8:30 a.m. I was glad to hear them announce that there would be water/gatorade stations at miles 2.5 and 4.5. They said the trail was well marked; I certainly hoped so. I was shivering in my Nike fleece zip up jacket/hoodie at the start. But I warmed up after about a mile. I started out slow, and actually stayed slow until the end.
It was AWESOME running through the woods, up and down steep terrain, leaping over fallen trees and splashing through streams! A photographer snapped a photo as I wildly jumped over a fallen tree. I'm definitely going to purchase that one if it turns out great, because that is one of my fondest memories of the day. I felt like a little kid when I jumped over trees and streams! It was the slowest I've ever run a 10K (because of the terrain), but definitely the most enjoyable (because of the terrain)! I didn't have a time-goal in mind because this was my first trail race (and I didn't have my watch to keep me on track). My goal was to simply enjoy the run through the woods and not get injured. I jogged most of the first two miles and then mixed jogging with walking up steep terrain the last half. In the last mile I noticed a women about 300 yards behind me. I was determined to stay ahead of her and picked up my pace. I ran hard the last 0.2 miles to the finish. I wasn't last, but definitely in the back of the pack. I didn't really care, though, because the majority of the competitors all looked to be in much better shape than I am.
I loved running on the hard packed earth and through the woods much better than running on streets! When's the next trail race??? April 25th is the next XTERRA trail race at Chicopee. I remember going mountain bike riding there over a decade ago. If my daughter is going to be with her dad that weekend, I'm definitely signing up for that race. And I don't care if I finish last... I'm not doing it to medal, but totally for the amazing escape to nature!