I’m going to come right out and say it – I crapped out on my first long distance trail race this past Saturday. Did you train for it? I sure did! I ran with a trail running group for about six months; in the rain, snow, sleet, during day and night, and on a treadmill when I couldn’t go outside. Was it the weather? Nope. I couldn’t have asked for a better morning to run the Traprock 17K. It was sunny and a pleasant 53 degrees, among friends.
So, what went wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. Being an amateur runner, I only really focused on the running aspect of getting #runitready for my first long distance race. There are a lot of other factors that I didn’t change or think entirely through, which caused my not-so-great outcome. Here were the top three:
Drink more water, you fool! I had accepted a Facebook water challenge that a friend started, several months ago, and I noticed that my running was great during that time. I then slacked, on water intake, until the week before race day. I thought that I would be fine since I had purchased a hydro-back for the race. That was dumb. During Traprock, I got really sluggish about the 5 mile mark and I started to feel the cotton mouth take shape. Even though I was drinking from my hydro-back I was still very dry-mouthed and thirsty which caused me to slow down. I must have looked like a rabid dog to those amazing 50K-ers that passed me by on the trail. Sorry guys, crazy lady coming through!
Wrong running sneakers. I had two different trail sneakers to choose from. One, was a great all around trail shoe that I had already run several trail races with (and did well in), but they didn’t have the cushioning that could support my feet against the jagged rocks. The other, was a more cushion-filled shoe that I had only used several times including some test runs (even at Penwood), but the last time I was there, I rolled my foot with them on. When it was time to make a decision on which shoe to wear, I chose comfort over confidence…and you’ll never guess what happened to me on mile 3, of the race. Yup, I rolled it (head smack).
Mile tracker let down. I put on my fitness tracker for Traprock, because I had never run the full 10.5 mile course and wanted to record it on my phone. Personally, I don’t like having the tracker tell me, mile by mile, how I’m doing during a race. As I ran, I heard my miles tick by, along with my slow pace, and I got discouraged. I wish I had turned it off, but I didn’t.
At mile 8, I really started to feel my leg, my mouth was bone dry and I was cursing my running app. I have to chuckle now at the Traprock poster they had designed for the event – you nailed it Eric and Patrick!
As I was limping down the ridge side at the final part of the race, I could see the crowd below and among them, was my friend Erin. I reached the finish line and dropped to the ground due to my leg. It was not even a minute later and Erin was right there, by my side (thanks girl).
I was pretty bummed at my performance when I got home. I elevated my leg with ice, popped some Advil and started to go through the pictures of the race. As I was scrolling through, I noticed that even during the race along the Metacomet Trail, my phone had captured a big smile across my face.
In those moments, no matter how far and few between they were, I was having a blast! So, I didn’t have any glass shattering times or super cool ninja moves coming in towards the finish line, I enjoyed myself overall and that’s what matters. I was able to high-five all my #runit trail race pals halfway through the race, at the turn-around (great job, Erin, Ray, Meg and Patty)! I got a surprise #runit cheerleader in the middle of nowhere routing for me to keep going (thanks Samantha)! And I, of course, took some #runitselfies up on the ridge side, with an injured foot and a dry mouth.
Yeah, it was a total thumbs-down to have the bum leg for a couple of days, but so what! I finished the race, dammit!
Why am I writing this? Why am I telling you about how my awful first long distance trail race went? Because, it was my FIRST awful long distance trail race. Am I going to do it again? Hell yeah I’m going to do it again, and again…and again! To all you other amateur runners out there – it’s not always going to be pretty PRs and rainbows shooting from your legs, during every race. Sometimes it’s going to be a limpy, depressing, cotton-mouthed, dirty mess coming to the finish line. And when those days come along, you just have to remember to learn from the mistakes you might have made and improve a little bit more for the next time. This was a very challenging race for me, but man – was that finish line so much sweeter when I finally got to it.
And that deserves a beer…
…oh and Penwood, it’s not over. I’m coming for you soon.