So my marathon is in my rear view mirror. Time figure out what’s next. For this week, I headed out to the Whitewater Center for their Shot in the Dark 10k Trail race. If you are not familiar with this event, the Whitewater Center puts on a trail race at night. Every runner is required to wear a headlamp. Heck I am not sure that even on a clear night with a full moon that I would want to do a trail race without at least a little light.
With Moores Chapel Rd being a mess while the DOT puts in a new round-a-bout, all of the traffic has been diverted over to highway 27. I can personally attest to the congestion. I spent nearly 30 minutes getting from the exit to the point where I can drive on to the Whitewater Center.
To help everyone out, they delayed the race by 15 minutes. Of course, this left me all warmed up and ready to go with no race for another 15 minutes.
Running at night has never bothered me. But I have always avoided the trails for fear of tripping over roots and rocks.
Given this race and my recent experience in the 50k, I am having a chance of heart. For the most part, the roots and rocks, I can see pretty well. What I really struggle with is staying on the trail. What is clear path in the daylight becomes a question mark at night more so now with the leaves falling. And, I know the trail fairly well, but even I found myself running off of it in places. Although, once I stepped off the beaten path, the footing changes noticeably. I know that I need to back track.
The 5k and 10k start together. Marcus and couple of other runners are soon out of lamplight viewing distance. We pickup the south trail. 3 runners pass me. But over the next couple of miles, I catch a few others.
As I am coming up to the Lake Loop I already see head amps going out on the Lake Loop. My attempts to count them are unsuccessful because I need to focus on where I am running. I catch one runner in mile 4, but as we are coming out the woods, another runner closes up on my “6”. I freely admit that I slow down on the trail. I have no death wish.
But now, we are clear of the woods, and I have just a gravel path back to the finish. I put roughly 30 second on him before crossing the line.
My time is 51:21, 8the Overall, and 2nd in my age group.
I am very pleased with my effort. While my time was some 3 minutes slower than over the same course during the River Jam 10k race, I am pretty certain the darkness had something do with it.
The reason for my delving in to night racing is my thoughts keep drifting to myself running the Whitewater Center 50 miler next year. The race starts at 5 AM. Runners have to endure more then 2 hours of darkness. I am using these events to test out new lighting positions, shoes, clothing, etc. If something doesn’t work, then I only have to struggle with it for 30 to 50 minutes and not two hours. Plus, I need to increase my comfort level of running at night on the trails. There is nothing like live action to test out my theories. Like I described earlier, I thought running over roots and rocks would be a huge issue for me. The idea of running off the trail never really occurred but now, I realize where my struggles really are and what I need to improve.
That’s what life is all about. We each have to accept challenges to ourselves or we will forever be stuck in the dull and rut of mediocrity.
The Cool Down Runner