This weekend was our second official race of the 2010 season. This race, another trail run, was held in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the trails of the beautiful scenic Explore Park in Roanoke, Virginia. The recent history of the park, and its limbo status, were enough to have my interests peaked in this race however I was a little worried after the Liberty mountain trail run how efficiently I could tackle another snowy trail.
Fortunately, the weather has been a tad bit warmer in these parts the last two weeks (40s and even some 50 degree days) and the trails were about 99% clear. I had done some extensive result studying where I tracked the overall results of the Mountain Junkies Explore Your Limits last five races in my age group and decided that if I could muster up the strength and energy to finish in under 33 minutes I might just place in my age group. The week prior to the race I had the best intentions to get a few runs of at least 5k distance in. I got one. On race morning, as on every race morning before, I was incredibly nervous and completely unsure of myself. There seemed to be a lot of runners at the race who appeared to be in my age group and I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to finish the race in the time I had allotted myself and that I wouldn’t place.
On the starting line Todd and I decided we would run together for the first mile with the hopes of him pacing himself better so he didn’t go out to fast and with the hopes of increasing the pace at which I began the race. I always start races slow, it has something to do with that story of the Tortoise and the Hare I think. “Slow and steady” wins the race (I literally repeated that mantra to myself at the Liberty Mountain run). When the race began I held up with Todd for about two minutes. He however, couldn’t bear my 8 minute mile pace and I was soon just a memory for him. I did my best however to run fast enough to finish with a respectable time but so as not to bonk. I was doing well until I reached the bottom of the first real hill. The hill slowed me down so much that when I took a look at my Garmin I was convinced I wouldn’t finish in under 34 minutes. My mind was apparently a little exhausted though because I wasn’t figuring my pace accurately and before I knew it I was at the top of the hill and then the next one and then before long I heard a volunteer shout ‘only 200 more yards’ at which point I switched into sprint mode, past the 41 year old man whom I had been pacing with for about a mile, and sprinted to the finish. My time: 27:18. I was ecstatic. But not convinced that I had indeed placed.
Within minutes the rest of our team had finished and we were all downing water and Gatorade. We moved ourselves inside to partake in the famous Mountain Junkies Pumpkin Bread (which was delicious) as well as bagels, bananas and cookies. Man, I love the free food that accompanies a great race. We ate our food as they tallied the race results and handed out door prizes (Jordan, who is the luckiest person we know, won a door prize yet again). And then it was time for awards.
I am pleased beyond measure that I can claim second place in my age group for Saturday’s race, especially since after the official race results were posted I learned that I did indeed run in the largest age group (there were 16 in my age group, all other groups peaked at about 5 or 6 runners). And I am just as pleased to tell you that East Coast Madness came home with four medals, three second place awards and one for third (yeah! Go Tyler!).
I am not as pleased to tell you about what happened when I got home. My watch, my most handy Garmin Forerunner, that I got as a Christmas gift from Todd and have yet to be able to really test all of it’s features, didn’t make the trip home with us. I tore the house and car apart looking for it Saturday afternoon before emailing the race director with my lost watch woes. Turns out someone had indeed come across my watch (which I had removed in the women’s bathroom when I went to pump) and turned it in. My watch is now waiting for me in Salem, Virginia. Not as close to home as I would like, but far better than it being lost to me forever.
Overall, it was an awesome race. A huge thank you to Mountain Junkies for their ability to put on one amazing race!
I am looking forward to warmer weather (it’s 61 today), training outdoors (we got in over 15 miles this weekend) and seeing more marked improvement on my times.