Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Trails to You! Mendon 20k Trail Run RR

Yes, yes.  I know the title is as cliched as you can get.  But hey, we'll go with it.  I'll get more creative next time.  If there is a next time.....
Here goes!
So, I stumbled upon this race by accident.  I had designs to run a 12 mile trail race back in June, but ended up deciding a broken foot was a much better way to spend the summer.  (Obscenity break).  Ahem.  So, with my season well over and delving into the yet-to-be-decided winter marathon 2013, I had no intention of racing again.
Until my friend Heather started talking some nonsense about a trail run.  And then my unfinished business of trying a trail run at some point began talking.  Loudly.  I found out that the race was cheap cheap cheap ($15) and had options from 5k-50k.  I settled on the 20k, sent in the money, and then....didn't do any trail runs.
Hey, if I'm gonna pop my trail running cherry, I may as well go big or go home.  (I do not advise this!!)
Week of the race:  huge hurricane and inches of rain.  Trail run - mud run.  Whoo hooo!
Morning of the race:  30 degrees and snow.  The hubs and I debated our warm snuggly bed, and then decided not to be wusses.
Pre Race meal:  Banana oats with almonds.  If it works for long runs, it works for races.
Pre Race:  Super low key.  We picked up our "packets"  (race bib and clif bar/gel) and stayed in the car to get warm.  The race was 2 10k loops, with 11 feet elevation gain for each loop.  There were about 150 people total for 5k-20k, and we all started together.  As we huddled for warmth, the RD whistled, and gave us some last minute instructions.  With a big fat, ready set go!  We were off.  No gun, no fanfare, just GO!
Okay, okay :-)  The first quarter mile was on the roads, then we swung into the trail to get er started.  I was holding back-my plan was to take it easy the first loop to check out the terrain, then go from there.  I had my watch on, but was fully prepped to not give a crap about my time.  And I didn't.  It was too gorgeous.  The first 5 minutes passed by uneventfully, then $hit got real.  We had a major climb (about a half mile) then a major descent.  This continued until about mile 3.5, when we hit the aid station for some noms.  The whole feel was so laid back and fun-emphasis on enjoying the spirit of running, rather than * killing it*.  There were a few sections of single track trail where we all ran single file, and some knee buckling climbs where even the eventual winners walked.  It was humbling.  It was beautiful.  And it was everything I love about running.
The rain abated about a half hour in, and it started to snow.  It was cold, but the tree cover kept the trails from being ridiculously muddy.  I learned a few things in loop 1 - Everyone walks the crazy hills. a fine art.  And trail runners are either super talkative, or super in their own world.  I chatted with a few friendly guys in the second half of the first loop, and came through the finish line in 1:04.  Another strange thing.  Looping THROUGH the finish to start lap 2.  Hey, it works.
At the beginning of lap 2, I ran with my friend Bob for awhile, then turned back onto the trail to give it another go.  The trails were slicker.  I had to focus on the roots and rocks a bit more.  I swear, the climbs were higher (hah).  I ate my buttered popcorn jelly beans.  I smiled.
I loved every second of it.  I was averaging about a minute per mile slower the second loop, and hit the 4 mile mark (mile 10.2 or 10.3) at 1:48.  In a road race, I would be so pissed with that time.  Here....I didn't care.  I set a goal of finishing in 2:15, which seemed reasonable.  The last 2 miles....I didn't want to end.  I was sore.  My quads already hurt (never, ever a good sign...).  And I loved it.  You know that moment, late in a race, when you're hurting, and you just want to finish...and you ask your insane self..."self, why are we doing this?  Why do we put ourselves through this pain?  WHY?"
Never happened.  I just didn't want to stop.  Good thing the hubs was waiting for me at the finish (he ran the 10k) or I might have been tempted to just keep going! (yes, I am THAT person).
I finished in 2:14, good for 3rd female overall- (woot woot!) which, in trail racing, doesn't mean a damn thing except a pat on the back and and an extra cup of soup.  (Just kidding.  We got unlimited soup).
Post race - lemon tea, peanut butter and bagel, and some soup.  A warm fire.  Life is good.
When's the next race?
Okay, that was rhetorical, but the real answer is an 11 mile trail race this Sunday.  I'm really thinking about it...if I can walk by then.  Those downhills really did a number on my quads!!
All in all, I am so so glad I did this race.  It really got me amped to put some time on the trails this fall and in the spring-it's a whole different beast than running on the roads-so much more focus on the act of running being a beautiful thing, rather than a time and a set distance.  I'm an addict, I admit it. 
Are you into trail racing?  Any local races you recommend (or non local races!)


  1.'re making me want to start running on trails again!

  2. Definitely a fan of the trail races! Some of them are super intense - the courses, not so much the attitude of the participants. I've really enjoyed the few races that I've done and am looking forward to some more!