…And I can kind of understand where they are coming from. Not doing any hill training at all and then running a 20K trail race was not the kindest thing that I could do to them. I was terrified to wake up Tuesday since muscle soreness is worse the second day. Fortunately the light recovery ride that I did on Monday saved me and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. Today I’m even excited to go out for a short run!
I ran the Skippo 20K Trail Race with my good friend Jessica to cap off my racing season. I found the race a few weeks ago and thought it sounded fun. (For future reference, someone smack me next time I do this. Thanks.) Jessica is as crazy or crazier than I am, so she took zero convincing. With racing my first 70.3, helping Fella finish his first 10K, and racing a road half marathon, I kind of forgot all about actually training for this race. I truly thought I would be okay since I was in good overall shape. But I forgot all about a little thing: elevation.
My normal runs are around my neighborhood which is pancake flat. I have to drive a good half hour to find any kind of elevation at all. So running a trail race was a wonderful idea, right?
The 20K is two loops of an awesome 10K trail at my favorite park, Castlewood State Park. They offered at 30K option as well. I could not believe how well the race was organized and executed. At the beginning of the race, the race director said that they had been out the entire previous day and all morning cleaning the trails of leaves and branches. I thought they were kidding….until I saw a volunteer with a leaf blower out on the trail. That’s freaking dedication!
The first two miles are flat and run right next to the river. It’s freaking gorgeous and it lulls you into a false sense of security. Then….BAM! Stairs. So. Many. Stairs.
And just when you get to the top of the stairs, then a big hill! Trickery at its finest! The biggest silver lining though is that the view from the top of the stairs is second to none.
You get a tiny break until you get to what is called Cardiac Hill. Because that sounds like fun. It did make me feel slightly better though to see that hill humble pretty much everyone. I wasn’t the only casualty! Yay? After Cardiac Hill, you get an awesome downhill followed by some flat before heading off on the second loop.
As much as I would like to sit here and complain about how much worse the second loop was (and it was), I can’t. Because even though the second loop was painful on my not used to trail running legs, I loved it. Every second. There wasn’t a single time that I wanted to quit or hated what I was doing. I don’t know if it was my fellow racers (who were awesome) or the varying terrain or the beauty of it all, but I was loving life. I can’t remember the last race that I could say that about and would absolutely like to keep trail running. I’d be lying though if I said that my legs weren’t screaming at me when I came across the finish line. They freaking hurt and you can see it on my face.
2:53:54 (14 min/mile)
I’m no speed demon, but I am really happy with that pace for no trail running in recent history and no elevation training. That being said, I want a rematch with this race and I plan on being able to write my next race report without any qualifying statements like that. And my proudest accomplishment of the day? I didn’t fall! I was extremely close to eating it twice, but caught myself! While you may think that I am graceful and coordinated, you would be wrong. I like to walk into walls and fall down stairs. This was a huge win for me!
Speed demon Jessica had been done for quite a while, but her and her fella gladly kept me company on the grass while I grabbed a well deserved beer and some snacks. Stretching had never felt so good!
I will say that the days after this race left me the most sore of any race in recent history. Yes, 70.3 included. And with that, I finally enter my off season. It’s weird not having anything on the calendar that I am training for until next spring, but I’m excited to be able to focus on my weaknesses and become a better athlete.