Saturday, March 08, 2014

Project: Love One Half Marathon Race Report

I'm kind of going out of order with my race reports.  Technically, I should be posting my race report for the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, but that one might take consumed an entire weekend, after all.  Instead, I'll start with my first trail race!

(also known as tree root.trip.fall.)

The race was located at Huntsville State Park, which is about a hour north of where I live.  I left super early, since I hadn't driven to the state park before and wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to figure out where I was going. 

Entering Huntsville State Park...let the adventure begin!

When I arrived, I headed into the lodge, grabbed a cup of coffee and hung out a bit.  It was pretty chilly (high 30s I think), so the warmth of the lodge was awesome.  I actually ran into a couple of my peeps from my Houston Fit days and chatted for awhile.  On my way back to my car, I ran into my Woodlands Fit peeps and hung out with them until it was time for a final potty stop before the race.

Gorgeous view of the lake!

Just trying to stay warm before the race...

The Race
Of course, before the race I realized that I could have signed up for the 10K, since this was my first official trail race.  But, no...I had to register for the half-marathon!  I was worried about feeling out of place, being a newbie to this trail stuff and all.  But, the gun went off and everyone (including me) started moving forward.  It wasn't a huge crowd and trust me, after doing Disney, it was a nice change!

The turning back now!
I have run the trails near my neighborhood, but they are not quite as technical as the trails in Huntsville.  There were lots and lots (and lots) of roots, plus some uphill and downhill sections that I am definitely not accustomed to running. I had a couple of almost know, where you trip, fly forward, but manage to regain your balance just in time.  Honestly, after a couple of those jolting trips, I wondered if it might hurt less to just fall.  It didn't take me too long to find out...I think I had my first fall around mile 6.  It hurt a bit, but honestly, you just get up, dust yourself off, keep going and chuckle a little.  (Yes, I laughed at myself. A lot.)  And just to be clear, a lot of people we falling, so it wasn't just me! Every so often you'd hear the sound of someone tripping, followed by a "humph" (or a swear word), and finally a "Are you okay?"  That's one thing I can say - trail runners are courteous and caring, anytime someone tripped, there was someone there checking to make sure he/she was okay.  I quickly learned that when we were on a less difficult area, like a dirt road, I could pick up the pace a bit.  Then, I would slow down and be careful when there were more obstacles to watch out for.

Just one of the amazing views along the way...

The trails were gorgeous!  The views of the lake were gorgeous, even if I had to watch the ground more than I could look at the lake.  For a split second I questioned why I had signed up for the half, but the thought passed quickly as I ran through the woods.  I talked to quite a few people along the way - a lady who had run marathons in all 50 states, a woman training for a double Ironman (hello?  How did I not know this existed?), etc.  The temperatures were warming a bit into the 50s, so it was still nice running weather.  There were several aid stations and the volunteers were encouraging and fantastic!  We ran on a little sand, through a little mud, uphill, downhill, over bridges, on a dam and through more trees.  I tripped a few more times, tweaked an ankle once and managed to fall again.  When I was a little more than a 1/2 mile out, I got excited. I could hear the announcer at the finish and I recognized parts of the trail from the beginning of the race.  I remember picking up the pace a little in my excitement and must of stopped worrying so much about the ground, because a second later I was flying forward with so much momentum that I fell forward and my face slammed into the ground.

Yes, that's right - I managed a face plant.

After my initial shock, I slowly picked myself up.  My head hurt and both of my hands were bleeding.  I had dirt and leaves all over me.  (And huge thanks to the couple behind me who stopped to check on me.)  I tried to run it in, but running made my head hurt.  So I walked.  When I was almost at the finish, I finally managed a slow jog through the finish.  I accepted my medal and went straight to the information tent to find out where I could get a couple of band aids.   I was directed to an ambulance and felt kind of silly asking the paramedic for help.  She was nice enough to help me wash off my wounds (including my face) and cover everything with band aids (not including my face).

I had no idea what was in store, but it felt great to finish!

The awesome bling! 

Post Race
After getting all cleaned up, I grabbed the most awesome, warm soup ever and waited for my peeps to finish up.  They also had mini-cupcakes and great music, so it was party-like atmosphere. The race wasn't a large one and well, we were in the woods, so there weren't a ton of people around.  But still, those who were hanging out were cheering.  One highlight of the day was cheering for Ken Johnson complete his 101st (and final) marathon.  He came through the end of his first loop not long after I finished the race.  Ken is 72 years young and a member of the 101st Airborne Division, which is why Ken is stopping at marathon #101.  He was running with Team RWB, who were carrying Amercian Flags.  Cheering for Ken was the perfect way to end the whole exprience.

The amazing Ken Johnson during his 101st marathon!

Even with the bleeding hands, scraped knees, road rash and what eventually turned into a black eye, I had so much fun at this race.  I am in love with trail running - the solitude of the woods and being out there in the middle of nature is an amazing feeling.  And, I love the added challenge of needing to carefully plan your every step.

Yep, nothing like a little road rash on your face!

One of my should have seen my thigh and knees!

I will definitely be doing this race again next year. And, I think I may have even convinced the Hubs to join me!

Oh, and here's the eye.  One week later.  With make-up.  I'll admit, at first I wore my shiner proudly...kind of like a badge of honor.  After a week, and then two..well, I'm kind of tired of it! :-)

Why no, that isn't mascara under my eye!


Jill said...

As a constant (and I mean CONSTANT) face planter, welcome to the club :). Glad you weren't hurt too badly (but I know it stung, sorry). Glad you had a great adventure....any race you'd love to run again can only mean it was a great one. Woohoo! Congrats to you!

KW said...

Congrats on your first trail half! I did the El Chupacabra 5k somewhere close to there and I remembered LOTS OF ROOTS. I tripped once, but caught myself and then watched a guy eat it hard. We all stopped to make sure he was okay.