Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dirt Inspires Women's Trail Half Marathon

Going into this race my only goal was to beat my 2:40 from last year.  My little sister came up to race with me and I had hoped that we would get to run together for a while and enjoy the lovely scenery that Nisene Marks has to offer.  Going into the race I felt pretty good, not very nervous, but I didn't really know what to expect from my body.  I hadn't tapered at all for this race and on Friday morning I had discovered that the supposed bruise under my left second toe was, in fact, a blister.  Gross.  I kept the toe sprayed and wrapped to avoid infection and was legitimately concerned that the nail would fall off before the race and completely thrash my ability to run.  Things turned out ok though, toenail still attached, no sign of infection.  
I didn't really have a strategy going into the race, even waiting at the start with my sister all I knew was that I was going to go balls out and just try to have a good time.  We ran in together for about a mile before Daisy dropped off and I think I may have pushed myself a bit too much during the first few miles of the race.  My heart rate was high and breathing was uncomfortably strained, even then it took me a few miles to figure out that I really needed to pull back and enjoy myself.  I just had two GUs shoved into my shorts pocket; I popped the first one at about mile 5 and planned to eat the second at around mile 9 (espresso love for a little turbo boost).  I ended up skipping it due to stomach discomfort, but didn't miss it.  Right around mile 7 I got caught up in the whimsy of the forest and really zoned into the trail.  It might seem kind of intuitive (duh, downhill) but really technical downs are my single most favorite thing in the world.  Prancing down a root-ridden slope on my toes makes the plodding uphill so worth it.  
I ended up walking several stretches but picked up the pace in the last two miles and sprinting in to make it under 2:25 by a hair.  I was met by my mom and four awesome friends and just about collapsed under the strain of the final sprint.  Daisy made it in at 2:48, had made about 4 new friends and said that it was the most fun race she had ever participated in.  I was a little concerned that she would have a hard time, so I was thrilled to hear about the awesome experience she had, she even placed 2nd in her age group and got a sweet GoLight daypack.  
I am extremely pleased with my finish, but I can't help feeling that there were areas where I could have done so much better.  I was plagued by general discomfort throughout most of the race.  Not necessarily pain, my legs felt great the whole way; more so cardiovascular strength and stomach gas.  In future races I am going to have to make a rule of chowing down half a banana about an hour prior, a practice that I already have in place for long runs that involve a bit of bus travel beforehand.  I also really want to invest in a new water-carrying method.  The belt I have been using is a complete pain and hand helds don't offer enough storage for the phone, clipper card, calories and key that I prefer to take on longer runs.  So it may be time to invest in a vest or pack, we'll see.

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