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My first trail race

Disclaimer: I'm fully aware that running this race after not running for 5 days and with an iffy hip was probably not a good idea. But what fun is it to be in your 20s if you can't do dumb stuff?

Ok, seriously. Minnesota has a lot of trail running (they even have a race series), but most of the trails are north of me. Today was the only trail race in my area, and it even counted for Grand Prix points. I'd been kind of waffling about running this because it was 10 miles and my hip was still stupid last week. One of the guys I work with runs at Oxbow Park a lot, so I talked to him yesterday about how long it would take me to get there. He kind of freaked me out by talking about the hills, but he also said it is a really pretty park and nice trails.

I had to go into work for a few minutes before 7 this morning, so I decided that since I was up, what the hell, I might as well go run it. Since it was a trail race, it's not like I had to run fast, right? I found the park pretty easily (turns out its ~10 miles/6 minutes from my house) and got registered. Then I sat around for awhile.

We headed down to the start as a group and got some last minute instructions. We were given a simple countdown and a "go," which I preferred to the starting gun. We ran down the road for a bit and then headed into the woods. We were immediately slowed by a set of wooden stairs, but then got onto the actual trail.

And then we ran around in the woods a lot and I had no idea what was going on.

I made a big rookie mistake of going out too hard in the first half. I did run up a few hills, but eventually started walking up them like the real trail runners. There were no mile markers, so I had no idea how fast I was running. I felt like I was really booking it in parts, though. And my cross country coach would've been proud of how hard I pounded the downhills - although, running down one long hill was really scary because my contacts don't focus sharply fast so I was worried about falling on a root, rock or branch as I flew down.

I got passed by a lot of people that ran smarter than me. One guy came up, and we chatted real briefly. He's run this a lot and let me know we were around the half point. I said something about how I didn't think I had been running that slow, and he said something about how it was a trail race (ie, time doesn't really matter). I said I knew that ahead of time, but was just kind of surprised. Shows how slowly I was taking the hills, I guess.

There was another guy that I came up along as we approached a hill. I didn't want to be the first to start walking, and apparently neither did he. I stopped right after he did, and he joked about how he'd been waiting for me to stop.

The hip was mostly okay. I did stop to stretch it a few times, which seemed to help. I'm amazed I didn't have more problems, because my footing was kind of crazy. We ran through a really squishy mud section, and I swear I almost did the splits.

The finish was kind of mean. You turn this corner and can hear (but not see) people cheering. And then you have to go up concrete steps, run across a bridge, go down concrete steps and run a few feet to the finish. But everyone cheered as people finished, so that was cool.

I didn't stop my watch at the finish line, but I finished around 1:46. They'll post the results online sometime, not that the seconds make a huge difference. Speedy Guy was there (he won the whole thing in 1:08 - that's pretty fast!) and as I told him "That was the hardest "slow" run I've ever done!"

I kind of wish I'd worn the HRM because I bet my heart rate was over 200. It was warm and really humid, which made catching my breath kind of difficult.

I don't know if I'm cut out for trail running. The hills were brutal, and apparently some of the other trail runs (Afton) are even harder! But I did talk afterwards with the guy that passed me around the 1/2, and he suggested that if I started slower it would probably be easier. He said it also helps if you've run it before, because then you know "what's a real hill." And there is truth in that; I probably wasted some energy at the start by charging up some hills, and probably also wasted some time walking up some hills that I could've run up.

I think I placed 2nd in my age group, so I got some badly needed points. I say "think" because I only heard them call my name, not the place; I got a nice silver colored medal.

Gut Buster 10 mile trail run | 1:46ish

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Comments

Sat 6/11/2005 11:39 PM

Let me get this straight: 1. No running for 5 days prior 2. Decide this morning to run in the race 3. A trail race 4. You first trail race? 5. You take second in your age group That's AMAZING! Tonight before I go to bed I'm going to ask God to give me legs like yours so I can run like lightning too! Sweet race, Marisa!

Sun 6/12/2005 1:43 AM

wow, sounds like a great trail race. nice!

Mon 6/13/2005 2:15 PM

very cool race report! and congratulation on second in your div! all these trail race reports are making me want to find some locally!

Tue 6/14/2005 2:38 PM

Congrats- very impressive for your first one! Im totally hooked on trail races now! My first trail race I was very intimidated by the lack of mile markers and not knowing what the course would be like. I made it about half of the distance(8 miles)before I realized I should have walked some of those inclines! Needless to say, there was some walking involved there at the end...