Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Report: Backyard Burn 10 Mile Trail Race

I ran a race yesterday…AND I WON!!!

This is my first win ever (running). And it was my first trail race. And my first 10-mile race. And actually, twice as long as the longest race I’ve ever run (previously I’ve raced up to 8K, not counting relays of course). Quite the day of firsts, huh?
Post-race, holding two 1st Place cups.

The race was the first of five Fall Backyard Burn Trail Running Series. In the 10 mile race, there were 179 runners total -- 115 men, 64 women -- and I placed 15th out of everyone. It was held on the absolutely beautiful trails of Prince William Forest Park, VA (if I had a car I would totally drive the 45 minutes to run there on a regular basis!).

My friend and I got up at too-early-for-a-Sunday o’clock and drove to the park. It felt like cross country (i.e. early morning cold, dew on the grass, spandex-wearing hatted runners meandering  about, butterflies in my stomach), and kind of was, except much more low-key than any college running experience and also umm hello 10 miles long!

I had a very tentative race plan, since I definitely called my Dad the night before, “Hi, quick question, how do I run a 10 mile race?” The answer was to divide it into 3 sections (like how I run a 5K). So the first four miles should be comfortable, the next three you should pass people, and the last three are go-time. But since I didn’t know anything about the course elevation-wise, and it was my first time at that distance (anything could happen!) it was a very loose plan.

The course was really nice, but also challenging – steep hills, rocks and roots and acorns, and a lot of single-track.

The good news is that I am a great downhill runner and am surprisingly sure on my feet, so the steep technical downhills are totally my jam. However, the bad news is that uphills destroy me, so I gained a lot on the downs and flats, and then lost on the ups.

I hit a lonely no-man’s-land from miles 5.5-7ish, but overall it was really fun! For the first half I was running with a group, and I spent the last half watching the red and orange shirts of two guys in front of me and trying to catch up or at least maintain the same distance. At the 5.5 mile mark I had a moment of Are you freaking kidding me? Am I seriously only half-way??? And then the last three miles were, well, just that time that it needs to be over asap if you know what I mean.

Since it was a trail race, the only people cheering along the way were the course volunteers at the water stations, who were great! Is there anything better than hearing, “Good job! First woman!” mid-race? I think maybe no.

The biggest difference between running a longer race and a shorter one is that towards the end I felt muscle-tired more so than anaerobically tired. But this could also be a trail race v. road race phenomenon…I’m not entirely sure.

The course ended on an uphill (ick), but it felt great to be done! My friend finished before me (note to self: get better at running uphill), and ran back to yell at me for the last little bit. My finish time was 1:12:54, official results are here.

We hung out at the finish, enjoying the post-race pizza and M&Ms and animal crackers and soda (are we 12-year-old boys? Maybe.). I love that after-race feeling of tired accomplishment and relief!

And then I stood on the top of the podium twice (for overall and age-group), which is a little bit awkward but also great! I won two 1st Place glasses so I can feel like a winner when I’m drinking, and then guess what? In the awards ceremony raffle I won an iPod Shuffle!!!! LUCKY DAY!

This race was the first of a series, so I’ll be doing it again next weekend.