This is an another post for a recent race. This one took place at the beginning of April at Mill Mountain. I really need to get better about writing these race follow-up posts sooner. I guess late is better than never...
The idea of running to the star on Mill Mountain and back down made me nervous. That is the basic layout for the Mill Mountain Mayhem 10k race (6.35 actual miles) that the Mountain Junkies put on every year. Since I do not live too close to the Mill Mountain trail system, I had never run any of these trails. So I was definitely going into this race blind.
Anna and the boys were going to the race with me that Saturday morning, so that always adds to the stress of getting to the race. I love having them at the finish line for races. There is no one else I would rather see than their smiling faces after a long run. But in order for that to happen, we have to get the boys up, dressed, and in the car by 7:30 a.m. Since Anna stays home with the boys now, we do not have a lot of practice in these exiting procedures.
On this morning though, everything went pretty smoothly. After we got on the road and making the 40 minute drive to the trails, I continued to stress about what shoes I would wear in the race. For the past few months, I had been taking all my trail runs in my New Balance MT10 minimalist shoes. But not having run on these trails before, I wasn’t sure how many rocks would be out there. I had some thicker shoed road running shoes in the car too. But by the time we had made it to the race meeting area, I had decided to just stick with what I had been doing and use the New Balance.
Since the boys hadn’t eaten breakfast, Anna just dropped me off at the starting area and took the boys to get something to eat. I didn’t have a lot of time to warm up. But after the pre-race talk, the runners had to hike up a ½ mile trail to get to the starting line. So, this walk was enough warm up for me. This course had over 1,300 feet of elevation gain and I was going to need all the energy I could keep. The first mile was up a paved section of road. There nothing like starting your first mile with a hill climb. This paved section had me concerned with my choice of shoes, since I had not run with these shoes off the trails at all. I was surprised how comfortable they were during this part of the race though.
After the first mile, the path turned into the woods and onto a single track trail. Just a little while into the trails, I realized that I had made the wrong shoe choice. The trails were littered with thousands of rocks, ranging in size from gravels to basketballs. This would not have been such a big deal if I wasn’t trying to go as fast as possible. I had to carefully pick my foot placement to avoid sharp corners of rocks and having to concentrate on every step definitely slowed me down. I really believe my New Balance have strengthened my legs during my non-race running. Maybe I will get more used to racing in them, but now they seem to slow me down a lot.
So after a grueling 4.5 mile climb, back and forth up Mill Mountain, I finally reached the star. The views of Roanoke from a top the mountain were very impressive. I had a great sense of accomplishment when I made it to the top of the mountain. At this point, I knew that the remainder of the race was going to be most downhill (although I didn’t realize how downhill it was going to be). It took me 46 minutes and 39 seconds to climb the 4.85 miles to the top of the mountain, but only 14 minutes and 20 seconds to cover the 1.5 miles to the bottom. The 1.5 mile track to the bottom was through some of the rockiest terrain on the course. There was a constant struggle between my feet, rocks, and the laws of gravity (the rocks won!). My jarred body finally pasted the finish line with a time of 1:00:59.
I don’t know if it was because of being on a new trail or the uniqueness of the elevation gain, this was my favorite Mountain Junkies race of the year. I am definitely going to run this race again next year and I can’t wait to try and better my time. I have already been searching for some better “rock” shoes, so I will be ready for next year!