This report begins with a warning to myself: NO MORE SIGNING UP FOR RACES WHEN I’M FRUSTRATED!! I was so frustrated when I got back from Nashville, I decided that doing this half was a good idea.
Apparently I dont know how to read a calendar because I thought the 16th was a Saturday. And I should follow the Julie (my fellow Pikermi Princess) rule of looking up the elevation and previous results of a race before registering for any race. If I had, I would have seen the 850 ft climb (I should have known – The race was held at Umstead State Park, which has amazing but hilly trails) and the fact that the top 3 overall times from last year were 1:25, 1:27, and 1:28 – slow winning times should have told me even the really good people had trouble.
I might be a baby but this scares me!
I had a really hard time with the humidity at Nashville before the rain. I remember telling Cary I was glad I was doing the full because I didn’t think I could run any faster. Since our half split was 2:29 and this race day was supposed to be similar conditions (with more hills) I was preparing myself for a similar time.
It was already hot and humid at 6 am the morning of the race. The air felt thicker than it did before Nashville and once again I was sweating while I walked to chip pick up from my car. The port-a-potty line stretched across the parking lot and I decided I wasn’t going to get to the front in time so I hoped it was just race nerves and the need to pee would subside.
The start was crowded but not too bad. It was so hot already, I threw out any hopes of a PR. The first mile was a downhill but I still only knocked out 10:22. Part of that was me holding back but another part of me was having Nashville flashbacks of hills and humidity and I was preparing myself for the long race ahead. The course went from asphalt to a gravel road. I could feel large rocks through my shoes and I felt bad for the people I saw in VFF earlier. Luckily it changed to crushed stone upon entering the park.
Uphill on mile 2 held me to a 10:53. I wasnt feeling this run right from the beginning. If it had been a training run I would have turned around at this point. A down hill started during mile 3 and I cranked out a 10:39 followed by a 10:10 for mile 4. The knowledge of it being a out and back course made me hate the downhill. Knowing I’d have to crawl back up when I was barely running down it worried me. The frontrunners were coming back at this point and I cheered seeing them glide up the hill.
Those of you who know me know I dont tend to be very chatty at races but I made a friend on this section of the race. Be proud of me! I ran with a girl named Angela for about a mile. It was her first race ever and I think she kicked some butt. Mile 5 with Angela – 10:28.
Pic of a trail taken from the Umstead State Park website
Although I know it wasn’t the longest climb of the race mile 6’s uphill seemed to last forever. I was about to give up and start walking when someone told me I was almost there. Thank goodness!! At the top was a water station and some port-a-potties. I was starting to think I really needed to go…but there was a line so I by passed it. Mile 6 – 11:15 for the climb and the turn around.
Coming back down the mountain formerly known as mile 6 I flew. It was steep and I felt bad for the people grunting up it. By then everyone was soaked. Every time my hands brushed my shirt I was greeted by wet (not damp, wet) tech fabric. My shorts clung to my legs and I wished I had worn some tighter shorts. I also wished I had remembered Body Glide but luckily I never chafed. Mile 7 – 10:07.
Next came the start of what I’ll call Hell. It was so hot and the hill was everything I thought it was going to be when I was running down it. I felt like Sisyphus, Greek legend who was doomed to push boulder up a hill for eternity. I was feeling really bad until I saw a man in Army BDUs with what looked like an 80lb ruck sack. I started clapping and yelled as many compliments as possible. How can I feel sorry for myself after seeing that? Mile 8 – 11:08.
I felt like this until Army man put me in my place
The hill continued on and so did I. There was no crowd support other than the awesome volunteers at the aid stations and the occasional bikers who would stop on the trail and cheer while waiting for an opening to continue on the single track trails that crossed the course. We were surrounded my dense woods and my urge to pee went from annoying to uncomfortable. Unable to hold it any more, I took off onto one of the single track trails to find a spot. I didnt go too far off the course so I hope that the bush provided good cover or everyone had tunnel vision. If not, I’m sorry to anyone who got flashed. Mile 9 (with potty break) 13:08.
A voluteer informed us it was the last bad hill. While it was nice to know it was the last bad one…the adjective told me it wasn’t the last one and bad is subjective. I took my Gu, wishing I had taken it sooner because I was totally spent at this point. Even with the downhill moving felt like it took a great effort. Mile 10 – 10:57.
My clothes were getting wetter and wetter. My shorts were dripping on my legs. It actually felt good…but so nasty at the same time. When I thought about the fact that my shorts were so wet they were dripping, I wondered why I even bothered stopping to pee earlier. Hey, I was already wet and nasty (and apparently with nastier thoughts in my head!)
Mile 11 – 11:02
We turned onto a greenway and I was thankful to not have to run up the hill we ran down during mile 1. I work near this greenway and I had been meaning to check it out. It was beautiful and went near a lake. I wanted to enjoy it…but I was so ready for this run to be over. I knew my time was going to be the worst since my first unless I could crank out sub 10 min miles, which wasn’t going to happen. Mile 12 came in at 11:16 and mile 13 at 11:26.
I know I’ve said it a millions times but I really have the best friends in the world. My friend Ellie was waiting near the finish to run me in blowing her whistle. I finished strong, despite wanting to drop dead for most of the previous hour. Like a rock star, I ran in with my girl blowing her whistle, which I swear only made the people at the finish cheer louder. Finished in 2:22:18 – way off all my cold weather times.
Soaking wet from sweat…at least the metal is pretty!
Looking back, I definitely need more hill work and I need to get better adjusted to the heat and humidity. Oh, humidity…why do I live in the south when I hate you?? I also need to just accept the fact that these conditions make even easy courses tough and that will make me slower…but if I stick with it, good things will come in the fall.