Last week I ran my first goal race of the fall – the Fall Backyard Burn at Lake Fairfax. It was number 1 in a series of 4. I ran the 10 miler.
This summer was weird and my training wasn’t quite what I had hoped. I’m happy to still be able to race 10 milers though.
I woke up early even though with a 9:00 start time I could have slept a bit later. Things just felt off. I didn’t have a lot of race excitement in me. We arrived early and got excellent parking. There was only two people in line ahead of me at packet pickup and the first was in the process of receiving her bib and shirt when I walked up. I noticed she held up the shirt and gave a weird look to the volunteer …I couldn’t hear what the racer said but no doubt it was about the shirt being tiny because the volunteer said they are the “sexy cut.” Luckily I knew what brand the shirts are because they are offensively small. I ordered two sizes larger than I typically wear. After that conversation I was quickly handed my bib and shirt. I headed back to my car to hang out since it was chilly outside and I had over an hour to wait.
After sitting around for a bit it was time to head to the start line. Due to construction in the park the start line was moved. The race started with a loop through the parking line before heading up the fire road. It was weird but made up for the lost distance by not being able to start in the normal place and allowed runners to find their spots.
Right after the run around the parking lot I power hiked up the fire road. The hill is steep enough to not bother running it. I was actually passing people that were running. I wanted to tell them how much energy they were wasting.
After the fire road we hit the single track trails which were more fun. There was a backup at the first stream crossing because people didn’t want to get their feet wet. I didn’t care about wet feet so I ran through when I could actually get there. I was blocked by a lot of people. There was a short section of trail before the second stream crossing which had the same problem. I actually heard a guy saying he would just stop his watch….um, it’s a race. The clock doesn’t stop when people don’t want to get their feet wet. There is a nice section of single track after that second stream crossing and I fell into a reasonable pace. I was following a woman who was keeping a nice pace for me…she ran the little hills and I walked them and stayed right on her heels.
We kept chugging along and ran past the soccer fields. Then it was a wider section of trail but it’s very eroded so it’s easier to run on one side making it almost like single track. That took me to the downhill section where I fell in May. This time I picked it apart much better and didn’t fall. I ran through some of my favorite sections next – they are trails where I normally start and no matter which way I run I end up running those trails so I’m very familiar with them.
I kept feeling like my socks were really tight and that my fight were going to lose circulation, die, and have to be amputated. I’m not sure why I felt this way but I couldn’t shake it. When I tried to run fast it felt worse.
I made my way to the lake and up the big hill and then down the other side.
As I came around the lake I saw my buddy and all I could say was that my socks were too tight. He gave me a confused look and said oh no. I finished the trip around the lake and headed into the final mile of the first lap.
I tried to pick up the pace in the that final mile. I had not been lapped by the 10 miler winner and I really wanted to keep it that way. As I ran across a road I confirmed with a volunteer that I had not been lapped ….no one super fast passed me but I was still nervous that I had somehow missed it.
When I could see the finish line I just kept running to head into the second lap and as the volunteer pointed me down the hill toward lap 2 I threw my arms up and yelled “I did not get lapped!” I was thrilled. Now I just had to run the second half of the race.
After the first lap I was on track for a decent time…unfortunately I was also super tired and knew my training was not great. I retraced my steps but was much more alone. The racers doing the 5 miler were finished and I was near the end of the 10 milers. It was nice because I didn’t have to fight anyone at the stream crossings and I could enjoy some quiet miles. There were some chatty women behind me for a while and that was annoying but eventually I got ahead. I was convinced they had cut the course but really they had just fallen behind.
When I got to the lake again I could see that my buddy was on the far side.
As I started coming around I heard people cheering for me…I was wondering who was there because I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew. And it wasn’t! Just a random family that had asked my buddy for my name so that they could cheer. That was really nice.
As I made my way through the final mile I kept an eye on my watch….it said I was running a faster pace than the race in May.
When I got to the finish my watch said the race was slightly longer so even though my pace was faster my overall time was about 45 seconds slower. I’m good with that. It means I didn’t lose much over the summer when my life was turned down side up and my training was terrible.
I’m looking forward to the next 3 races in the series. They are courses I haven’t run. The next is a park that I know quite well but the two in November will introduce me to new trails.