Just because I have goals now doesn’t mean I have to be serious. That will come soon but for now I’m still running for fun. On Saturday morning my usual running buddies all had other things to do so I figured I would hit some trails on my own.
I was unexpectedly awoken at 4:25 am by an elbow to my back. I was not happy about this and I couldn’t go back to sleep. After trying for a while I decided to just leave the house early and hit the trails. I had a lot of plans for the day and knew getting my run done early would allow me to accomplish the most.
I decided to get a little race course practice at the park where the Spring Backyard Burn was. The fall series includes a race on the same course. I started where I normally park which added a little distance. Surprisingly I was mostly able to follow the course without the markers and the caution tape.
I tried to use the GoPro during my run but most of my photos turned out blurry. We think it was a result of the low light conditions in the trees and a longer exposure. I was moving when I took all of the photos.
The start from my parking location was downhill so I flew through the first three quarters of a mile and then picked up the race course after a stream crossing.
I made my way through some fun single track to the lake.
And then hit the big uphill. I practiced my power hiking. I headed back down and ran around most of the lake.
When I turned away from the lake I was a little nervous because I had only run those trails during the race. I managed to mostly stay on course. I took a few short wrong turns but decided within a few steps they were wrong so I didn’t waste much time or distance. I made my way to the finish line area for the course and instead of running downhill to only make a turn and have to run up the hill I stayed on the trail and took a small shortcut. When I got there I was convinced I had to turn right but when I did it seemed like the trail ended. So I turned left despite being very confused. Was there any extra piece of the fire road? 15 steps down the hill confirmed I should have turned right….it was fire road and I “knew” where I was ….why was I so confused?
Upon closer inspection I realized the trail did not end…a tree had fallen and was blocking the road. I climbed around it to confirm. Yup, I was right where I thought I was. I proceeded on while laughing at myself for being so confused and thinking the trail was gone.
I knew I had one more tricky section up ahead. There were two stream crossings… no big deal on those since there was hardly any water but there are multiple spots to cross and I had to make sure I hit the correct ones. I remembered telling my friend during the first lap of the race that I typically hit the furthest crossing and we were doing one sooner. That helped me remember where to cross. I had run that trail before the race but only in the downhill direction. The race is the uphill direction. I decided I better practice and did it again. While I was on that trail I decided that I might not want to run the loop again…I knew that would put me at 10 miles plus the 1.5 miles to get in and back out to my car. I also remembered that Kim said her race was on a paved trail nearby. I figured I could finish my loop and run out and be at about 6.5 miles. I would want to run further anyway so I could run on the horse trail next to the paved trail until I found the race. I checked the time and since I had started super early I realized the timing would probably work out.
I continued on until I made it back to the stream crossing where I had hopped on the course. I crossed back over and headed back to my car. Due to some slight shortcuts I came out of the trails at 6.3 miles and headed towards the horse trail. I had less than 20 minutes until the start of the race.
I had no idea where the course for the race actually was….and I was hoping that I had remembered the start time correctly. I knew I was east of the race and I knew I was about 1.5 miles east of our typical trail meeting spot. For some reason in my mind I thought the race might be east of there and I would run into it rather quickly. That was not the case. By the time I ran to that spot I knew the race had started….but I had no idea where it was. I did know that I had to run that 1.5 miles back to my car though. Since I had no idea what I was doing it might have been smart to turn around but I knew the race really couldn’t be much further away so I decided to proceed on over a bridge and then I figured I would run to one more bend and see if I could see signs of a race.
I finally saw a sign that said “Race Event in Progress.” Hooray! Of course I had no idea where on the course I was and if I would really be able to find Kim. I kept running until I found some volunteers. I asked for info and was told I was 15 minutes late but I could start. I laughed and said I had been running for 2 hours and didn’t feel 15 minutes late to anything. The showed me the finish line which was perfect. I knew based on the timing that I had not missed Kim. I was told the winner was expected in a few minutes. I decided to head down a little bit and not wait right at the finish line. I ended up finding the spot where runners turned onto the trail and there I found one of the DTP coaches. He told me that his wife was running the race and I had just missed her.
The timing was actually perfect ….as if I had planned it. I took a break and waited for Kim knowing that she had no idea I was there and I could surprise her. We were stopped at the 3 mile mark so I decided I could run her in. We cheered for the winner as she came by and then the other runners. There was someone announcing times at the 3 mile mark so I used that info to decide when to start really watching for Kim.
When I saw her come over the bridge I jumped out onto the trail. The look on her face made the extra running worth it! She was so happy. And decided to dig deep for a strong finish. I think she was trying to get me back for North Face! After standing there I wasn’t ready to run so fast but I ran and encouraged her to pass some people at the end. She told me she didn’t think she could but I ignored that and passed them so that she would too. Her finish was super strong and fast! I was so glad to be able to share that moment with her. I didn’t want to take away from Kim’s opportunity to enjoy the post race party so I quickly headed back to find my other friends who I knew were behind her. I got there just in time to run them in too.
I’m glad I decided to be spontaneous and find the race. It turned out to be a lot of fun. And I got the extra miles I was looking for. I ended up with 10.75 miles for the day which is funny because the idea to go to the race started with me not wanting to run 11.5 miles.
Right now this is what running is all about….trails and friends. The smiles from my friends made my day. And that’s how you turn an early elbow to the back into the perfect morning!