Oh I'd been looking forward to this race!
Great weather for running! It was low to mid 50s and cloudy with no wind.
Friends. A couple of friends were signed up to run either the half or the 10 miler. I'd chatted with some volunteers/fellow runners at the last race I volunteered at and they were there again. It was fun to see them out helping again as he recovers from his 50k finish. And a forumite from woman's runango forum board was out volunteering. It was lovely getting cheered for by name.
Free entry! I'd volunteered at a couple races and gotten a free entry into this race. Bonus! That also meant the race directors cheered for me by name which is kinda fun.
Favorite trails. Soaring Eagle is a park which is a little remote for me to drive to for a regular training run but I just really love the trails. They are not as steep up and down as most of the other trail systems around here and just really fun with single track, lots of turns and rocks/roots and very pretty forest. It's an area popular with trail runners, mountain bikers, and dog walkers who live adjacent. It always seems quiet and peaceful because i think it mostly gets local use.
New course. I guess some private landowner on one section has now refused access to one point of this trail system for events which meant the course had to be reworked. the section that was taken out was one favorite trail but they also took out the one big hill (with very rocky trail) plus a literal scramble up and down one section. i really disliked the section the last time i ran a race here and I was happy to see it go and even though that meant i had to do two loops. And it was easier access to aid stations.
Mud! (see above) No really, very muddy conditions is pretty typical for this park. As a true sign that everyone was used to it, there was not a peep out of people as we hit the first bogs almost immediately. Everyone just started charging on through because that's what you do! Much better than when people are desperate to keep their shoes clean and you hear the groans of dismay/horror. However I heard from a friend running a shorter race (and starting with people who are doing a first race even) that they were concerned about mud.
I felt like crap after about a mile. And realized I was stupid to be trying to race at a time of the month when i just feel so off. Sigh. I sign up for these races even though I know I'm not going to be my best and then beat myself up for the entire race. I had many miles of "I suck" and close to tears even though I know why I'm running poorly and having to walk up short hills. It's disappointing to say the least. T
The mud was deep. the new course had us on this mile long access road which is deeply mulched and has serious drainage issues. the mud is ankle deep for long sections and a tough, tough slog. then i stepped into one area and sunk deep into the muck up to my mid-calf. And I have long legs! i stumbled and almost fell face first into the muck. I did manage to save myself by putting my hands down but then i had gross hands the latter half of the race. Dog and horse excrement and other water borne ick is certainly in the water and i was so grossed out! I'd stop at some of the ferny plants and wipe my hands across them to get the dew onto them to sorta clean them. Next race like this, I am adding sani-wipes to my pack!So i try for my happy place. Really, i love trail running and being able to get out for this type of thing is great fun for all the reasons listed above. I'd just gotten to the point where I had a few more miles to go and I was happy about being able to be out there running at all and finishing such a fun event. Not everyone can run a half marathon on such crazy trails, right? I got into the aid station and one of the leaders of the 50k (if she didn't just outright win it, she's placed first man or woman before at endurance events) comes in at the same time as she's just caught up to me. The volunteer asks how she is doing and she says, "I think the 100 miler that I did last weekend is catching up to me." BEE-YOTCH!
I'd hoped to come in well under 11 minute miles which would be very good for these trails/conditions. I came in under 12 minutes (2:35ish) and did at least run most of the last few miles (it was downhill) and feel fine. At least I think I'll recover quick from this effort since i was not running that hard. I know the longer effort is a good training stimulus too. I guess I should've just started at the very back and ran easily from the beginning but there is something always fun about lining up for a RACE! And I know I'll never lose that excitement and pride in being able to take part in such fun and challenging events.