Three things I’m very afraid of: heights, wooden bridges, and falling down hills. The race I through of these fears – narrow trails with staggering drops next to them, old wooden bridges, and steep declines leading me to believe I would somersault down a hill (thankfully I did not!).
Today I ran the most difficult race I’ve run to date. The Dirt Inspires Half Marathon is a women’s only event, held on a beautiful trail in Nisene Marks State Park. It is a beautiful trail and today’s race had perfect weather, just slightly chilly and never blazing sun. I had a couple of things going against me when I started: a cold that had been threatening me for the past day or so, a yellowjacket wasp that decided to bite/sting me multiple times (under my bib through my shirt) within the first two miles, and the timing chip dug a nasty a little hole in my ankle (again, fairly early on). Due to the cold, I had changed my original goal from 2 hours 10 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes. I finished at 2 hours 19 minutes and 46 seconds. I came in 15th in my age division (48 runners) and 57th overall (out of 450ish runners).
I started out well, I knew not to push too hard and kept my pace around 8:30-8:45 a mile. Then attack of the stupid yellowjacket (made me quite grumpy)! And then I start to run (and then walk) uphill. It was not straight uphill for the first half and then downhill (I would have much preferred this). Instead, we ran (and walked) steep inclines followed by steep declines. The total incline was somewhere between 1100 and 1200 feet. I ran through three small creeks (and wished my shoes drained water faster but oh well). I ran with my Camelbak, perfect for this green race that required you to carry a water container. It also allowed me to carry my Clif Shot Blocks (I prefer these to GU – I hate GU). I also don’t love my trail shoes, but they are better for this than my normal Mizunos (that I love so much!).
I don’t think my body has ever been so happy to finish a race. And I have to give kudos to Dirt Inspires for having great stuff to finish up the race. A nice tech shirt, a medal (gotta love getting a medal), some good trail running magazines and lots of good coupons. And good food – bagels, fruit, bran muffins, energy drinks that both lacked insane amounts of sugar and actually tasted good. I love when races (or their sponsors, Whole Foods in this case brought the post-run food) provide food that I actually want to eat when I finish a race.
Overall this was a great experience. The women who ran the race all were very supportive and encouraging. While I had multiple moments when all I wanted to stop running and somehow transport myself back home, I’m so glad I finished. I not quite convinced I’d be willing to do this to myself again – but who knows, I’m just crazy enough to do it again!