Saturday I had my first go at running a trail race. It was the inaugural event and we chose to participate in the 10+ mile distance in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I love to run in the woods, but had never experienced a trail race before, so this would be a first. I was really excited!!
We drove over the morning of (~80 miles) and arrived at about 7:15 am. Our arrival time was perfect…we could pick up our race number and then head to the start line to watch the 50K and 20 mile runners head out on their adventure.
After the long distance runners embarked on their day, we changed into our running attire, put our post run change of clothes into the car (which was parked right at the finish area) and ventured to the start line for our race. I decided to go with my Coeur Chevron Tri Kit, arm warmers and gloves since it was 40F at race start.
The first mile of the course is on paved trails. We entered the woods via Virgin Trail and began our single track race adventure.
It didn’t thin out as much as I had hoped (although with only about 90 participants in the 10 mile event, it wasn’t super crowded) and when we entered the woods, I was the pace setter for about 6 other runners. This was a lot of pressure on someone who is new to trail running and not entirely sure how to pace for a 10+ mile trail run. I ran faster than planned for the first 3.5 miles, but I was ok with this pace…for now 😉
Shortly before we exited the woods briefly for our first aid station (3.5 miles in), the lead pack of runners from the 50K and 20 mile distances passed us in the woods. They were running around a 7:00/mile pace, which is smokin’ fast for me when I’m not in the woods…WOW!! The crowds started to thin out at the first aid station, so when we went back into the woods, there were just a few us running together. Overall, it was a really flat run (with only a few short climbs), but there were lots of twists and turns through the woods, not allowing our focus falter. During the next 3 miles, I just kept thinking, “How awesome is this that I get to run in the woods and with such natural beauty?!?!?! What a beautiful day!!!!”
We approached the 2nd aid station at about mile 7.5, where we loaded up with water (The Iron Hippie downed some Coca Cola as well), before heading back into the woods. At this point, my focus faltered just a bit. I commented to the Iron Hippie that I hadn’t seen a pink flag recently. Before the race started, Scott (the race director) told us we should see pink flags on our right throughout the whole race. If we didn’t see a pink flag within a minute, we might be off course and may want to back track to see if we missed a turn somewhere. I jumped a log and looked up to see if there was a pink flag off in the distance. When I looked up, I tripped over a sapling stump and went down…HARD. I was very grateful that I still had my gloves on to help break the fall. The Iron Hippie said it was a great fall and that I did a good job of trying to roll out of it 😉 It didn’t feel like I rolled through anything though.
The last 3 miles were pretty uneventful as we ran back to the finish. Since this was our first trail race, we set a PR as we crossed the finish line in 1:41:21. I placed 44th out of 92 participants, 15th out of 47 women, and 8th out of 23 in my age group. I’m pleased with these results since it was only 4 weeks post Ironman and my body is still a bit tired. I know that with more training and better recovery post Ironman, I could have definitely done better. Next time, I’ll be better trained, more rested and hopefully not fall 😉 I am already looking for the next trail race.
Have you ever run a trail race? What is your favorite part about trail running?