Friday, July 25, 2014

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Race Recap: Down 2 Earth 13.1 Trail Run

The fact that I am writing about a race I ran a month ago is sad because that's how long the movers had my stuff. I won't even get into the details over our disastrous move so I'll just focus on the positive: I have my stuff, I love living in Chicago, and I've already raced twice in the two weeks since I moved. Before I get to those Chicago races, I have to tell you about my experience with running a half marathon distance trail run.

They say that before you do your second marathon you need to have gotten over your first marathon. This is exactly how I feel about my first trail half marathon, Down 2 Earth. I've had races that are hard mentally and runs that are hard physically. For me, the trail 13.1 was both. I signed up for the race as a training run and somehow roped my friend into doing the race as well. I have never felt so bad about getting someone to run with me as this course was not easy (trails really are a whole different beast).

The run was four loops in the trails and most of the course was spent running alone (my friend had knee issues and told me to run ahead after the second loop and then later stopped at mile 10). If it weren't for the fact that I was hoping to catch my friend cross the finish line, I don't know how I would have finished. In many ways this race felt like my first half marathon with all the mind games and "you can't do this" that was going on in my head. My friend may have been upset she didn't finish, but just the thought of her (and my guilt over convincing her to sign up) inspired and motivated me to finish.

What got to me the most with the trails was how hard the run was; oftentimes, I felt like I was running a 9-minute mile when in reality I was running a 13-minute mile. Certain miles felt eternal and they certainly looked it because nothing ever really looked familiar. Also, I am so used to running races with big crowds, that running alone in such unfamiliar territory was a little isolating. I missed the "you got this!" being screamed at me from the sidelines. I don't think I would ever want to do another 13.1 distance, but I can definitely see myself signing up for another 10K trail run.

What I liked:
  • For as much as I haven't been able to get over this run, I did like the fact that it challenged me and reminded me that I am strong enough to overcome the bully in my head.
  • Inexpensive entry fee and easy day-of packet pickup.
  • Cool trails. 
  • Having my friend as company for half of the race and then seeing her face at the finish line.
  • This race made me really respect all those runners out there who prefer and excel in the trails.
  • 7:30am start time so we started running in full sunlight, but the trails were so well covered you didn't even feel the heat of the day.
  • General feelings of bad-assery associated with having simply finished.
What I didn't like:
  • I would have liked a more memorable medal. 
  • Sparsely populated course.
  • It was hard as hell (whine, whine). 
Next race recap will be Rock n Roll Chicago 5K from July 19th.

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