Saturday, January 20, 2018

S2F 13 Mile Trail Race at the WWC

I finished up ’17 with a trail race so it is only fitting that I start ’18 with a trail race.

When I arrived this morning at the WWC, the temperature was a frigid 23 degrees. My hands went numb with in minutes of stepping out of my car.

I did nice little 3-mile warm up run to check out some of the trails. I wanted to gauge how messy that they were going to be before hitting them during the race.

For those runners in the 4 miles, they were lucky. The extreme cold made the trails slippy in places but otherwise frozen. Those running 9 miles race were just finishing in the window time where the trails were turning to mud. Those of us that where not smart enough to run the 9 mile race and were tacking on 4 more penalty miles, the trails were softening up fast. At each turn and downhill, I just hoped my foot plant's stuck. For the most part, they did, but on a few occasions, I did go slip sliding. I never went down but I did do some tree hugging.

Breaking down the race, we started in the parking lot. Then we did a few sections of the parking lot before, descending down along the white water’s edge before entering the North Main Trail.

Watching these guys bounce down the trail as if they were on a dry clear road was remarkable.

I was doing all that I could just to stay up right. Up and down, back and forth we went. I was pretty happy to have the North Main trail behind me.

But enter the South Main Trial

A lot of the South Main Trail is in the shadow of the sun so here we were running through the snow. Up the Carpet Trail, back on to South Main, then up the Wedge, then back on to the South Main, up the Toilet Bowl before taking the South Main Trail back to the split for the 9 and 13-mile races.

During this part of the course, I was thinking back to all of the races that I have run. I cannot ever remember running a race in the snow. Technically, I guess that this is my first.

Through the first 9 miles I had going back and forth between being in oxygen debt and not. The results left my quads feeling used up.

Going up the Wedge, I glanced over to see Corey coming off of it. I could not resist yelling some encouragement to him. Then coming up to the split for the races, I was catching him but so were many of the 9 mile racers. Again, I throw another round of encouragement at him. 

Of course, I got some encouragement of my own from Meredith and the entire Running Works crew. I needed it. I was felt like I was running on fumes.

Starting into the last 4 miles, the trail was slick and snow covered. We turned on to the East Main Trail but with a nuance. We were going to run it backwards. Ugh I never run it backward. While I recognize most of the trail even in this direction. Running it backward, I don’t know the right angles to take at each corner. This slowed me down even further.

With about 2 miles left, the lead woman and another guy caught me. I offered to let them pass. But she was like “You are setting the perfect pace". Inside, I was thinking, “if you only knew, I feel like I am falling apart”.

With about a mile left, I caught sight of a guy that had been keeping just out of my sight most of the race.  I was quicker on the hills and flats than him, but he could descend like nobody else. I freely admit. I am poor a descender on the trails. This guy was taking full advantage of it.

Yet, the last mile just enough that I was closing. I was dragging my cold and tired body over hills faster than I wanted. Along with me, I was dragging two other runners.

I eventually ran out of race but only by 10 seconds.

I finished 8th overall in 1:41:59 placing me 1st in the 50-54 age group.

The snow affected more than just the trails for this race. Apparently, they shipped the shirts via UPS. After being told they could pick the shirts up in Atlanta since they were delayed by the snow, and then driving to Atlanta, they were told the shirts had already shipped out to Charlotte. Yet, when they went to the UPS depot here in Charlotte, they were told that they couldn’t pick them up. Well, at least I will give them an “A” for “trying”. Their back up plan – Runners can pick them up at the S2F office on Monroe road or have it shipped to them. Kudos to them for making this right.

Then, there were the awards ceremonies. The 9 mile awards were to start at 10:30, and 13 mile race awards were to start at 11:30.  At 12:50, I was finally called up to receive my award. The 9 mile awards were stopped after the first couple of awards all together. Then, they seemed to be struggling in the 13 mile awards.  They were jumping around between the age groups which I think that this only confused everyone including those calling out the awards. Now, I understood why they did it. Those first in their age groups could pick from swag on the table.  However, this only delayed the entire process as runners pondered over what to pick. However, I didn’t really have this problem. The 50-54 age group was pretty much last so my choices were either XS gloves or XL gloves. LOL. I am not complaining. My daughter will get a nice pair gloves. J It is not all about me.

Overall, I had a good day. This race will help me shake up my training plan and showed me some places where I need to improve. Now, I just have to dig-in and get myself back in shape.

Kudos to S2F for keeping it together during "trying" times.

The Cool Down Runner

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