We needed a team name when we signed up to do the HUFF 50k relay, so I suggested Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Because WTF am I doing running any kind of race, especially in the middle of winter… on the trails.
If you’re in a hurry and need to get to the point of this post, the point is… I finished. Done! The final tally was just over 11 miles for each of the relay team members (which, if you do the conversion and math, is actually more than 50k) on a course that was pretty hilly (I felt like most of it was uphill) on a day that saw a high of 27 degrees (thanks, Mother Nature, for being cold for the first/last time in December).
I’ve been attempting to train for this race for about 10 weeks. Even as a newbie, I knew that it wasn’t near enough time to actually train, but I also knew at some point that I would be able to finish. It was simply a matter of how long it would take me to complete the course.
Training has been tougher than I imagined. But then, I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know what I imagined it would be like to train for a race. At the same time, it’s been very exciting. I’ve been having quite a lot of fun out on the trails. I’d never really walked/hiked the trails at my favorite park; I’d only ever ridden my bike out there. So it’s all new to me. I discovered I rather like it.
The race itself was pretty fun. The day–though super cold–was sunny and beautiful. The trails were very well marked and not too muddy (I’d read about a few years where runners struggled with the mud… and the waist-deep water). I’d heard about the aid stations on this run, and they definitely did NOT disappoint. They had water (with a light frosting of ice), Gatorade, peanut butter sandwiches, M&M’s, gummy bears, pretzels and several other things I didn’t take the time to explore. At the end, they had at least 15 different kinds of homemade soups (I think; I didn’t count) and all the goodies you could want. There were homemade cookies at the finish line that were the best I’ve ever tasted (I think; I don’t usually run 11 miles before I eat cookies).
I made it the first five miles with no problems whatsoever, and I was excited to note that I was within my goal time (which was completely arbitrarily set). About mile 6.5, I realized I was getting a bit tired. OK, a lot tired. And it came on suddenly. I walked. Then I started to run again. Then, around mile 9, I glanced behind me because I could hear someone coming up to pass, but I couldn’t tell how far away they were. As I looked back over my shoulder, I had a slight misstep that made my right knee hyper extend. It wasn’t too bad–just enough that it felt like someone jabbed a stick behind my kneecap (so kind of bad). Instant swelling. And a mental, “Oh, shit. I should never have done this in the first place.” I had to walk a lot after that. I still had a decent pace, and I finished only three minutes over my goal time.
The knee was pretty sore that night and the next day, but it was back to the new normal by day two. Surprisingly (at least to me), my left quad was what hurt the most in the aftermath. I’d had a bit of trouble with the left calf during the race because I over compensate with my left leg to make up for my right, but it was the quad that hurt for days after the race. It’s cleared up now, but it made me very aware that I have a lot of learning to do as I move forward.
By forward, I mean forward to my next trail race later this month. This time, it’s only a quarter marathon (6.55 miles), but it’s at night. No worries, though. I bought a headlamp!