Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THE TRAIL 20K

At the start! My compression socks certainly helped keep my legs warm!
  This past Saturday I took part in another trail race...a 20k. Which ended up being actually over 20k to be exact.  I woke up on race morning and it was absolutely freezing out. I felt good, no nerves, just ready to go out and have some fun. With not having been able to train in the last four weeks due to the injury, I wasn't sure exactly how the knee would hold up after a few miles. I was optimistic though and excited...apart from the cold!

We arrived at the race site and had about fifteen minutes to spare before the gun went off. I really did not want to get out of the warm car but coach insisted I peel off my sweatshirt and long pants and head out to do a warm up run. BRRRR! Out of the car my body began to shiver and I couldn't feel my legs after about five minutes. I decided to keep on a long sleeve shirt in hopes to stay a little warm out there. Once I had warmed up, I was ready to start the race but there was about a ten minute delay and I just stood there shivering. Finally the race was underway and off the mark I (as always) started out hard. I looked down at my Garmin and was clocking 7:10 pace. The race started on paved road and quickly took to the trail. I knew I needed to pull back and get into a rhythm before the first long drag uphill on the trail. The first 2.5 miles are a steady incline and I was having trouble settling in to a comfortable rhythm. I was in second place when I took to the trail but within fifteen minutes was passed by two other women putting me in position for fourth. At that point, I realized I had better work harder to settle in. At mile three (something), I gained my position for third back and would not let up until the finish. The first two women were out of sight so I knew I would work hard to hold off the runners behind me.

The trail was wet and completely covered in leaves. The first six miles went pretty well and I was able to hop over the invisible (thanks to all the leaves) rocks, roots and stumps without any problem. When I hit lap two things started to change a little. My legs were beginning to tire from not having trained and so picking them up became much harder. Somehow my feet began to find every root and stump that they could and the rolling began. I didn't count but am certain I rolled my ankles at least seven times during the second lap. I had opened a large gap with the runners who were behind me, so I actually pulled back my pace a little. Not to last long though...I saw bright pink coming up behind at mile 9 and I knew I would have to pick it back up to keep my spot. Just after mile 9, I tripped and BAM...went down. I landed on both knees, then hands. GREAT! With my injured knee, that was not what I wanted. I quickly got back on my feet and glanced behind and saw pink still pursuing. I had to hobble at first but then got back into it. My knee ached but not too bad and then on mile 9.5 got my foot caught in between two rocks at the top of a hill and smashed my toe. The pain from that was pretty intense and I kept running, certain that my toe bone was jotting out from the skin for the next mile. My toe hurt...I have no nail there after the last race, so nothing there to protect it. I managed to run through it though and the pain was less intense after a mile or so. I decided that my bone wasn't protruding through the skin after all and I would live. If I slowed for a second...I could see pink getting closer. I kept thinking of this quote..."What counts in battle is what you do when the pain sets in". I was hurting and in the last mile I thought I would fall over. I pushed hard and did not want to let the runner behind catch me. I crossed the finish line...knee throbbing, toe throbbing, hamstrings cramping, nose running, head throbbing...skin blood red from the cold, but I couldn't have been happier. I held  off the runner behind me for the last three miles. I knew that I had finished third overall, but was surprised when they called me out as 30-39 age group winner. YAY!

Almost to the finish...and GLAD!
With having not been able to train for this race, I am very happy with the result. I'm still pretty fit from triathlon season and taking time off  lately hasn't caused me to lose any of my fitness. Also, running the trails in the last couple of months prior to the bike accident, have really made me stronger. It's time now to get back on the road some and start training for Charleston. Speed work starts back next week too. I am loving running so much at the moment and doing it all for fun. I know that the improvements that I am gaining in strength, speed and confidence will help carry me into a great 2012 tri season :)

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