This wasn’t my first trail run but it was my first real trail race. It is also a race that I never would have considered signing up for. However, one day a coworker came to my desk and threw out the idea of me doing this race with him and another coworker’s husband. In addition to the race, they were also camping out the night before. Count me in!
After registering, I began to realize that several aspects about this would take me out of my comfort zone. For instance, running on trails, sleeping in a tent and running in hills so steep that they had nicknames like ‘The Meat Grinder”.
I think I have a curse in which, every time I camp out, it rains. I checked the forecast and it said there was a slight chance of rain in the afternoon before the race but none on race day. Cool! Guess what. It rained all night. However, my co-campers Matt and Chris and myself had such a great time talking by the campfire that we hardly thought about it. In fact, we probably stayed up too late.
We woke up the morning of the race, took down the campsite and went to pickup our packets. We arrived at the start seconds before the gun and were off. The first few miles were a steady downhill and people were going waaay too fast. Shortly after mile 3, a guy was already puking on the side of the trail! Chill out people!!
It was really crowded at the start and remained moderately crowded the rest of the way. There were seemingly endless ascents and descents. Almost everyone was walking up the hills. On one hill a muscle-bound gentleman passed about a dozen of us as he charged up a large climb. When I reached the top, I started running again and ended up passing him.
At around mile 8 or 9, there was a long, flat road where I made up some time. Shortly after reentering the woods, I approached a steep, massive hill. As I reached the base a man running down shouted “Welcome to the Meat Grinder everyone!”. There was no way I was running up that. All of us went into walk mode.
Suddenly I heard heavy breathing from behind. I glanced over and there was muscle man again. Charging up the Meat Grinder! “Nice job!” I yelled. He just smiled and nodded. The next time I saw him was after the finish. Impressive.
At the finish, I suddenly started noticing the faces of several friends who I had run with before. It was so cool to experience this whole other side of running that they had known but I only heard them talk about. Eventually I found Matt and Chris and we headed home.
I now totally understand what my running friends see in trail running now. Pace is irrelevant and experience is everything. When I tell people about the race, not a single person has asked what my finish time was. By the way, it was 2 hours and 43 minutes.