On Saturday I ran in the Mountain Junkies Trail Nut 10k at Falling Creek Park in Bedford. This was the second Mountain Junkies race I have taken part in, the other being the Montvale 5 Miler earlier this year. They are very well organized events and all volunteers and runners have been great. If anyone is thinking about getting into trail running, I would recommend checking out one of their races. I don't think you will be disappointed.
On to the race details. Well, I am actually going to start with my pre-race experience. I usually wake up a couple of hours before running in races. That way, I can get something to eat and let it setting for at least an hour before I have to run. Having to start the race at 9:00 AM, I got up at 7 and fixed my normal oatmeal breakfast. Then came the hard part; getting the boys up and out of the door. Our plan was to leave the house by 8:15. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the park from our house. That would leave me 10 minute to pick up my race packet and 15 minutes to stretch and warm up.
That was the plan. But after struggling the get the boys up and moving and having to take short pit stop myself to take care of pre-race upset stomach issues, we finally got to the car at about 8:25. We got Eli strapped in the car and while Anna was putting Coy in his seat, she came to the realization that he must have had some pre-race stomach issues too. So she ran inside to perform a quick diaper change and then strapped him in his seat. We were finally off, but we the time was 8:34. I started to panic a little at this point because packet pick-up was suppose to end at 8:40. At this point, it started raining too. We decided, since it was now raining, that Anna would just drop me off at the park and then take the boys to McDonalds for breakfast. After getting to the park around 8:50, I rain down to the registration table to get my bib. Luckily they didn't pack everything up yet and I was still able to get my packet.
This gave me just a few minutes to try and stretch and warm up. They did a staggered start for the two race distances. The half milers started at 9 and the 10k runners started at 9:10. I headed down to the start line right after the half milers started, to try and get a spot near the front. I had big plans of getting off to a good pace and sticking with it the entire race. I was going to be very aggressive and push myself during the race. I had run the majority of the course the last Saturday and I felt very comfortable with the course. I set a pre-race goal for myself to run a sub 55 minute 10k. When the 10k runners were sent on the course, I tried to work myself towards the front during the first 1/4 mile. This section was in an open field with plenty of roon to make passes.
I got to the woods and the beginning of the single track course with only a few runners in front of me. I was very pleased with my start and I was happy to not have to dodge a lot of traffic in the woods. I had my iPod Shuffle to help me keep track of my mile splits and after my first mile split came in at 7:55, I got a little scared. Did I really just run the first of 6.25 miles at that pace? I made myself back off a little during the second mile. My second mile split was over nine minutes. Then I thought to myself that I slowed down too much. It was during my third mile that I realized that my race was not going to be my best performance. My legs felt like two logs. I just couldn't run at the pace I wanted to. I am not sure if it was my rushed pre-race or the humidity, but my energy was just shot.
I decided that I would listen to my body and not try to push myself too much. I didn't want to be out of commission for the rest of the weekend because of a early Saturday run. So, I didn't even check my splits after the second mile. I yielded to many runners during the next few miles. All of those runners that I forced myself by during the first 1/4 mile were now passing me back. I couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed for running such a fast pace at the beginning. At the beginning of the race, I really didn't fell like I was running too fast. My legs were just not on the same page on that day. I guess everyone has those days, but this was my first bad day that was actually a race day.
My legs felt very tight the entire race. They never loosened up like that normally do after a few miles. So, I just set a comfortable pace and set my goal on finishing the race to the best of my ability. The last 1/4 mile was over a very hilly section of the course and I pushed myself up this section pretty well. When I popped out of the woods, I saw Anna and the boys about 50 yards up the path, about half way to the finish line. I started to wave and motioned to Eli to come give me a high five. During my recent Blossom to Bottle 5k, I was able to give Eli a high five during the half way point and it was such a good feeling. I really wanted to do it again, but he was acting shy because of the other people around the finish line. So, I decided to go to him. I ran of course just a little and gave him the high five and made sure to re-enter the course the same spot I had left. I hoped they wouldn't disqualify me! I actually gave up a few seconds on my finishing time, but it was well worth it.
I was mildly surprised when I saw the clock at the finish line. It was started at the beginning of the half mile race, so I knew it would read 10 minutes faster than my actual time. It was showing 1:08:50. So, I was still under an hour. That surprised me because I backed my pace off so much, I just knew I was going to be over an hour. My official time was 58:59. So, I didn't get my pre-race goal time. but since this was my first ever 10k, it was a PR!
I guess I should mention that I was able to reach a second goal I set for myself on Saturday. I had dealing with a stomach bug for must of the week and I actually ran the race with toilet paper in the pocket of my running shorts. Just in case I had to duck into the woods and that care of some business! Luckily, I didn't have use the toilet paper and my stomach didn't get upset at all during the race. I guess I need to be thankful for the small victories for my run!
All things considered, I had a good time on Saturday. The Mountain Junkies put on a great race with plenty of good food and drinks for after the race. I enjoyed some bagels and fruit while hydrating with some Gatorade and water. I got to hang out with Anna and boys afterword too. That always makes my body heal quicker. I definitely learned some important lessons during the race on Saturday. I definitely need to take my pre-race preparation more business like if I want to feel better during the race and I need to do better with my early race pace. Hopefully I can learn for these mistakes and make my next race better.