Saturday, May 21, 2011

So Unbelievably Hard! Scenic City Trail Half Marathon Race Report

Trail runners are clearly a special group of folks. The Scenic City Trail Half Marathon I ran today was by far the toughest running event in which I've participated. And that includes 26.2 on the hilly Country Music Marathon course in 80degree temps. I am PROUD of my 2:27:58 finish. I worked SO hard for it.

To say I was UNPREPARED is an understatement. My trail shoes didn't work out, so I had to run in my regular road shoes. I had run several six-milers on a very flat, mostly gravel trail. It has no tree roots, no boulders, no large, sharp rocks. And I thought that made me ready to take on 13.1 on a real trail? Apparently I'm very naive. Or just stupid.

This race was so TOUGH. I ran more hills in this race than I've run this month! (Or last month.) I told my husband the race felt like 75% was uphill, 20% was steep downhill, and maybe 5% was flat. Or 0%. (Update: I wrote this prior to posting the elevation picture.) It was so technical---I ran over roots, rocks, across boulders, in sand, over a fallen tree, through 2 streams. I tripped at least 5 times, rolled each ankle 2-3 times, and left the course bleeding from my right shoulder from a fall against a tree.

Trail running is SERIOUS business. I was completely unprepared in my road shoes. The steep downhills were so scary with no traction. There was loose dirt and leaves and rock everywhere. Traction would have been a good thing.

I was happy endurance-wise. I powered up a lot of hills when others were walking. I mean A LOT of hills. But I just didn't have the technical knowledge to know how to safely run the downhills or the experience on this type of mixed terrain. It took a laser-like focus on the ground about 2 feet in front of me. I couldn't look up, to the side or anywhere except where my foot was going to fall next.

It was all single-file, so I got used to having conversations with unknown folks behind me whom I could not see.

Breathing was tough--could be the elevation or all those darn hills. Some were so steep that everyone dropped down to a walk. Since we were single file, I had no choice at times. Other times, I'd just say, "On your left" and try to pass them without hurting myself.

I will say that I spent 90% of the race in FEAR that I was going to seriously injure myself. I am running a full marathon in 3 weeks and the whole race I was thinking that this was a really risky move. (The folks who wrote the race website downplayed the technicalness of the course in a major way. It was NOTHING like I expected.) I think with the right shoes and training I might have had fun and embraced this trail run.

It was a crazy, challenging, but strangely fullfulling day. Fun? I can't say I was smiling and having a blast, but I did talk to some really nice people along the way. Trail folks just seemed friendlier than road race folks. Almost no one had music.

At the end, the last .25 was back on pavement. Pavement never felt so good!!!

I pushed myself in the last 3 miles because I so wanted to be finished! My right ankle especially was hurting more from the downhills than the up. The first 8 miles seemed mostly uphill, but miles 9 and 10 were primarily downhill. Those two miles were brutal. Our GPS watches weren't working, so we were all kind of running blindly. I was SURPRISED and happy to see under 2:30 on the finish line clock.

Now my husband wants us to do it together next year. Hmmmm..... I think I will be up for the challenge. It is GOOD to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Tomorrow, my family and I leave for Chattanooga, TN! Well, technically the kids are staying with their grandparents about an hour outside of Chattanooga. I'm excited to have a quick little getaway with my husband! The scary part is the 13.1 miles through the woods on Saturday!

I had a trail running set back this week. My trail shoes DO. NOT. WORK. This is my 2nd pair. The first, Brooks Adrenaline ASR, hurt my Achilles tendon for some odd reason. My regular Brooks Adrenalines feel great and are my marathon shoe of choice. But the trail version is cut differently. So I returned those and ordered an Asics pair of trail shoes that got great reviews on Road Runner Sports. These felt ok (looked hideous though!) at first, but on a 6-mile trail run the other day, they just felt off--heavy and my legs were achy. Then on a 5-miler this week, I noticed both knees hurting and my right foot cramped up. It seemed to be the shoes.

It looks like I'll be running the trail half marathon in road shoes. I might as well paint the word "Newbie" on my forehead! My other option is to buy a pair at the "expo" (really just packet pickup at an outdoor store), but the idea of running 15 miles (I plan to do one extra before and one after since I have a marathon in 3 weeks) in unknown territory in unknown shoes is a bit scary!

My goal is to just finish relatively unscathed--no broken bones, sprains, bear attacks, etc. I will take it slow and be careful!

I'm going into this race with 9 toenails. Wonder how many I'll come out with???

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Taking One for the Team!

My son (age 10) and I went to my hometown Adairville, KY, to do the tiniest 5K today--only 30 runners this year. We agreed to run separately since he hadn't trained for it at all. (He has done at least 2 other 5K's on little to no training as well.) He wanted to run/walk and I wanted to, well, RUN. I thought maybe I could beat my time on the course last year.

I warmed up and ran alone until 2.5 miles in, then something told me to stop racing and turn around and go find my son. I just had an uneasy feeling I couldn't shake. (Mommy radar or guilt for leaving him behind?) I started worrying, "What if he's feeling sick?" "What if he's too hot?" "What if he gets lost on the course?" "What if he falls down?"

I found him about a quarter-mile behind me.... in last place. He was a little upset. I ran/walked with him to the finish. In the last stretch he asked me if I'd let him go ahead so HE wouldn't be last. So, I did. Yep, I was #30 out of 30 racers. I took one for the team! On my Garmin, I was at 27:56 at the 3 mile point, so I wouldn't have PR'd anyway, but I'd have had a pretty good time for me. But I'm absolutely glad I went back. I can handle being last (it has actually happened before), but it might have made him not want to run anymore. It IS kind of traumatic! I'm just so happy he has embraced the sport I love!

He was proud he wound up with 3rd in his age group (I didn't point out this was out of 3) and got a medal. I actually got 1st in my age group by default as the only 40-44 year old female in the race. This is the 2nd time I've come in LAST in a race, but still won my age group. (Look in the archives to February of 2008 for the time that happened in my first 10K!) Funny how that keeps happening.... Does this happen to anyone else, or is it just me??

So, my 5K was not what I had planned for including the extra 1/2 mile in there-- 3.61 miles. The medal is kind of cool. I felt silly taking it though. 1st place out of....... one!

Then I ran the 1-mile fun run with my 4-year-old Julia. She had trained for this for a couple of months with a once-a week 1/2 mile training run. She even missed her last soccer game to run the race! She was so excited to finally do a race. She was a trooper. She ran HARD and never once complained. She got 3rd out of 5 runners in her 4-6 age group and she was the youngest! Those little feet were flying! She ran the first quarter-mile at an 8:45 pace until I MADE her slow down. She walked only 3 or 4 times for about 30 seconds and finished in 11:24. I was very proud of her.

Next weekend is the Scenic City Trail Half Marathon! I finally registered and got some trail shoes just last week! If I can run it slow and easy and not break my neck, I'll be happy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Runner Without a Race

The top reason I WON'T be having a great Iron Mom Half Marathon and getting that totally cute shirt I posted a few posts back is that it is ..... CANCELLED. Just like my city, Paducah, KY, has gotten a ridiculous amount of rain in the last week. They had to cancel this weekend's race for the safety of the runners and the volunteers and frankly, they have bigger things to worry about. Well, I should say "postponed" because they rescheduled it on June 18. That would be exactly one week after my full marathon on June 11. I'm thinking that might not be the best time to attempt to race a half marathon!

So, for me, it is essentially cancelled. They are actually offering a refund if the new date doesn't work for you--highly unusual in the race world and very considerate. And I REALLY wanted that shirt. And a good half marathon "redemption" experience almost as much

I have yet to register for the Scenic City Trail Half Marathon on May 21. I'm just not sure I'm prepared for 13 miles o' trail running. And right now, our trails are all a big mud pit, so I can't even try it out. It's been a few weeks since I did a couple of 6-milers on a trail. I was leaning toward not doing it, but with this one getting cancelled, I'm swinging in the other direction. They have only 50 spots left, so I'd better decide quickly. I'm also waiting on my trail shoes that I ordered from Road Runner Sports. Got to get them broken in, too!

And THANK YOU to all the people who offered support after a hurtful comment was left on this blog. I really appreciate you!

Well, I'm off to make burgers with my entirely over-priced grass-fed ground beef from Whole Foods. It's a treat that happens rarely, but they taste so good. Mine will be bunless with green peppers and onions sauteed in coconut oil. I also plan to cut up a summer squash and saute it in coconut oil and make steamed broccoli. After all the chips and salsa I ate over the weekend, I have to eat clean this week!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Downside to Blogging

Anonymous Commentator:

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I am no exception. Neither are you. That's why what Jesus did for us is so critical. I hope you know and understand that Jesus died for your sins and mine.

In the last year, for the first time in my life, I am treating my body like a temple as commanded in scripture. I am careful what I put into it--mostly natural, whole foods as close to God created them as I can find. I have worked to make it strong. God didn't intend us to sit on the couch and eat Cheetos and Hostess cakes. We are meant to lift heavy things, to get from place to place on foot, to squat, to jump. I LOVE using my body in this way. I try to encourage others through this forum and one way to do that is to show my results from eating and exercising and truly treating my body like a temple.

It took a lot of courage for me to even post them (me, a 40-year old mother of three), and now you have shamed me into taking them down. I wasn't posting them to say, "Hey, I'm a hot momma. Look how pretty I am!". I was just trying to show how running, strength training, and eating (mostly) right can help you drop fat and build muscle.