Trail races are never easy, and as I've learned this winter, one thing that makes them extra challenging is snow. Running in snow is like running in sand. To add another layer of difficulty, when temperatures get above freezing, it becomes like alternately running through sand, mud, a slushy from 7/11, and then like swimming when you get to the particularly deep water.
I'm ashamed to admit I almost bailed on the race because those conditions didn't sound appealing. That was coupled with the fact that I'd get home from work around 10pm Friday night, and need to be up at 4am Saturday.
But, as it often does, craziness took over, and I wanted to get my money's worth on last month's Yak Trax purchase. So I found myself on the road before 5am wearing running clothes. Even with a significant amount of caffeine, the two hour drive was rough.
You can see the excitement as I picked up my bib.
At least the view at sunrise didn't suck.
My frown turned upside down pretty quickly though. I don't know if it's rare to have a race organized and put on by runners, but this race was and it showed. This was the inaugural race held by Kara's running club, but it was so well organized you never would have known. Major racing companies could learn from them, I've seen some major first time race debacles. They had everything a runner could want, from hand warmers to a warming tent at the finish with three kinds of nice, hot soup.
Logan and I planned to run together, which was a huge motivating factor in even going to the race. Something about the woods, in snow, alone....no thanks.
After a short pre-race briefing, we were off.
As you may have noticed, my life has not been exciting enough lately to warrant photographs. Logan, Kara, and some race volunteers got a ton of great photos yesterday, so I'll make up for my text filled posts with a complete photo overkill this time.
I'd run these trails before, but it was nearly three years ago, back when I first decided to try out this "hey, this random internet stranger commented on my blog, maybe they'll be my friend, I'll go meet them in the woods!" lifestyle. (Side note - my friend asked me recently how many people I'd met through blogging, and I couldn't even figure it out/count that high.) Anyway, the point is, I'd forgotten that they are fairly hilly.
|Probably a hill. Whatever. They don't photograph well. Just trust me.|
|Taken during one of my particularly fast portions.|
Then a few inches of snow.
Then doing that weird skip/jump/sort of running thing to avoid water.
|There was really no avoiding it.|
Then getting to deep water and realizing your options are getting your feet soaked, or developing Katniss Everdeen skills and setting up shop in the woods.
Or, sometimes, the road, apparently.
The watery parts really weren't so bad, although they were fairly constant. Trail shoes/smart wool socks "dry" pretty quickly, or at least wicked away enough water so that you didn't feel the way you did when you wore your sneakers on the log flume and then had to keep them on the rest of the day around the amusement park. For the most part, the water wasn't super cold. Only the shin-deep mini rivers were icy.
I was having so much fun chatting with Logan it was run of those runs where every time I'd look at my Garmin I'd be like "woah! ______ miles already?". Such a rare gem, those runs.
|How did I run before blogging buddies again?|
|See those Cheez-Its? Kara got them JUST FOR ME.|
After that, Logan and I ran with my friend Kathleen and her running buddy Deb for a few miles (maybe? I was still really into the conversation. Such a dedicated runner.). This was also during the shin deep water, more like wading than running portion of the race.
|10.7 miles, 2 hours 33 minutes.|
|The medals were bags of Valentines candy. Edible is always better.|
|They even had cookies with custom M&Ms! How cute are these?|
|Yeah, I think I picked up enough mud on 1 loop.|
Overall, this race was fantastic. Do yourself a favor and sign up in 2015.
What's your least favorite terrain to run in? I'm sticking with snow. It's like 100 times harder than normal running.