I am back!! I can’t believe how great it felt to be back to trail running. My first trail race of the year was a repeat venue for me, The Legend race at Sleepy Hollow StatePark, but this year I ran the 5 mile rather than the 10 miler which I ran last year (see race report on that here). There was also a half marathon available, which many of my mileage hog friends took advantage of.
There are a lot of great things about this race. One is that it is put on by Running Fit. Their trail races are always top notch. It is at a great venue. Sleepy Hollow has some really nice single track running, as well as a great post-area with a beach (and nice rest room facilities). The race is growing in popularity, but it is still small enough to keep the friendly low-key feel. The course, at least for the 5 mile, is very runnable – long sections of flat and slight downhills but enough uphills to keep it challenging.
This year an added plus of the race is that I had a lot of friends there. I belong to a Facebook group called Training Academy for Bad AssWarrior Goddesses, and there were several goddesses, myself included, who were out for the race that day. We got together for a group picture before the race so that we were still looking very goddess-like at this point.
We had a great day for the race. The weather was perfect. It is very cool here in Michigan for August, but the sun was shining.The pre-race was uneventful, except for the fact that I did actually do some pre-race preparation for this one. I ate before I left the house, drank a Powerade pre-race, and did a warm-up. I had already decided the night before that I wanted to run a “no-excuses” race this time and give it my all (also something which I sometimes don’t do). I wanted a true look at where my fitness was at this time.
As I lined up for the start, I lined up close to the front. Because of my goal to run a solid race, I knew I needed to start fairly fast so I would not get hung up once we got to the single track. The early parts of the course do have good spots for passing, but I really didn’t want the hassle. It turned out that I had made the right choice and seeded myself correctly because I was only passed by a few runners throughout the entire race.
When the gun went off, I was out fast. I knew the pace was not one that I could sustain, but I kept the pressure on until we actually got onto the single track (around .5 mile) and then settled in to a more reasonable pace. I was hoping I hadn’t gone out too fast at that point, but knew I would not know for sure until later in the race.
The early part of the race was just tons of fun. I felt good. There were some very satisfying flats and downhills that just invited me to fly along. I kept trying to watch my breathing and not press too hard. I did try to ignore the watch as much as possible and just go by feel. Somewhere around mile 2.5, though, I started to feel like maintaining the pace was a little bit of work. I was still okay, but I was starting to tire.
Well, somewhere around mile 3.5 things started to get a little ugly. After the 3 mile mark, the uphills get more frequent and more serious. The downhills and flats, while nicely placed, were entirely too brief to be to my liking. Between 3.5 and 4.25 I struggled some. I got passed by two or three people (one of whom was a woman – Grrrr!).
I would like to say I made the 5 miles without walking, but it did not happen. On two of the bigger uphills I walked for 15 seconds each. It may have hurt my time a little, but more likely it would have cost me more not to. I have not done a lot of hill and trail work lately, so I think I needed the rest. In miles 4.25 to 4.5 my legs buckled twice, and I almost went down. They were just too fatigued. By then, though, we were out of the woods and coming across the parking lots and grassy areas before the finish. I was able to pick it back up for a strong finish. As I did the last cruel little uphill to the finish and crossed the line, I felt good about the race. My pace was 8:15, which was much better than I expected (I was hoping just to be sub 8:30), and I felt I had a good overall finish.
I went back to the car to check in with Jerry, grabbed my Powerade and a muffin, and went back to watch the rest of the finishers and cheer in my fellow goddesses. One of my favorite moments was watching Jessy cross the finish line with her son.
The awards ceremony for the 5 mile was next. I was happy to find that I had ended up 1st in my age group, but even more happy to learn that I was 7th woman and 20th overall (out of 206). I think that taking the time off from the longer trail runs early in the year to work some on the speed is starting to pay off. Also, the bicycle cross training seems to also be working well for me. The award was another Legend mug to add to my collection.
The rest of the morning involved one of the things I really love about the trail races, hanging out in the finishing stretch cheering on people who are finishing the longer races. Jerry and I joined Jessy and her family to cheer for the finishers and to wait for our goddesses who were still out there on the course. It was a great way to spend the morning. The only thing missing was the cowbell. Damn it! I forgot the cowbell!! I will definitely need to add that to my running bag for future races!!