I love this race but I knew going in I was unprepared. I don’t think I’ve ever been prepared for this race. Even know what is coming doesn’t help. I thought I was last year but it ended up being slower than the previous 2 years. Oops. The last few months I have been more focused on getting in the long runs than I have speed work. I’ve done 1 speed workout this year, 1. Guess it’s a good thing this is not a PR possible race for me.
Packet pick up was a breeze. The town is on my way home so it was easy to stop by the day before and pick it up. New this year- no bibs just a shirt. Our county has odd rules about what makes a race versus a fun run and that can affect the permits. I was fine with not having a bib as they never really mattered in this race. The race is gun timed not chip timed and times are recorded via post card handed to you as you cross the finish line. The race is almost free ($25!) and the money raised by the firehouse goes to local charities.
Race morning dawned early and dreary. Cloudy but no rain, I’ll take it! Since the race is short and close, my dad usually comes too so we all headed out early. My legs were still feeling the cramps from Thursday so I though about running a short warm up but I was afraid it would hurt. The sun started to come out as we all lined up. After getting stuck in the back last year, I had learned my lesson and moved up to the front. After a few announcements from the race director, we were off!
The race starts with 1/2 mile on neighborhood streets before we hit the trail. My legs were feeling pretty good actually and my lungs were happy which surprised me as I ran an 8:30 pace for that portion. Then we hit the trail, passed the one water station, and started climbing. The trail is single track and switch backs up the hill for a 1/4 mile. I ran 2, then walked 2 and repeated until we were out of that section. I passed some people and some passed me. My lungs were on fire. I ran without music and all I could hear was my breathing. It sounded more like panting. I also realized I was overdressed and lost the top layer. Then I just kept trucking. 11:22
Just keep climbing, just keep moving. I passed a few people but then got stuck behind some people walking. I could have tried to pass but I honestly didn’t think I had enough in me to pass and then maintain. I wasn’t going to be one of those people who surges around and then comes to a stop. I stayed behind the pack until we hit the teardrop. The tear drop is a tiny out and back we run at the top. Except it’s not the top. There’s one more climb and it’s steep and short. From mile .6-1.5, we gained 500+ feet. I happened to see my lap pace at the top of the mountain and it said 18:something. What?!
Time for my favorite part- the downhill. I seriously throw myself down the mountain. Which is what trashes my quads but I don’t care. I did keep it a little calmer as there is a marathon looming in a few months though. ☺ I only skidded out twice. However the damage was done, I maybe should have passed earlier. 12:25
More downhill- woo hoo!! At this point I was hauling but I knew there was one last hill lurking. I took a walk break on the hill but overall maintained until the last downhill where I tried to open it up. Unfortunately I was hung up behind some people and it took a bit until the trail was wide enough for them to get over so the person in front of me and I could pass. Then it was out of the park, back on the streets and trying to finish strong. I won’t lie, I was tired. The finish line seemed so far away. 9:45
I felt like I was crawling to the finish but my watch claims I was running an 8:20. I crossed the line and my legs were shaking. I was smiling but I was whipped. I noticed that my index card said 52- so I was about 15 people further up in the field than I was last year. I put my name on the card and checked my watch as I left the chute. Well crap, I was slower than last year by almost 30 seconds. Yay for a course worst!! I am not mad, a little bummed but I love this race and just running it was awesome. I know a few places I could have shaved some time but it wouldn’t have changed how I felt about this race. I will be back for more pain next year. ☺
And major shout out to this woman-
Meet Peggy. She ran the race in full turn out gear. That would be bad ass at any race but this was a mountain! She does it to raise money to fight cancer. 4 days later and I am still sore. How does she feel?!
See you gain next year, Firehouse. Maybe I will be fully prepared. 😛