My first race of 2018 was this past weekend and it was the craziest race I’ve done so far! Not only was it my first trail race, it was also the longest race I’ve done and it was at NIGHT!
When I signed up for this race, I gave absolutely zero thought to the weather, trail conditions or what it’s actually like to run with 600 people in the dark on the same single-track trail. While this race was definitely challenging, it was also a blast! They don’t call it ‘brutally awesome’ for nothing!
My goal going into this race was to finish in 55 minutes and run at an 8.5 min/mile pace. After a few minutes of slipping and sliding around on the trail, I knew that goal had flown out the window. Slippery footing aside, there were waist-high fallen trees to hurdle over and several sets of stairs that were completely covered in ice. I saw several people around me fishing shoes out of a sticky combination of mud and snow. Luckily I didn’t lose any shoes in this race!
It was fun to look ahead and see the headlamps of the runners bobbing around through the trees. The headlamps also made it easy to see when we were nearing a big hill so I could prepare myself for the climbs. Some runners wore glow sticks and colored vests and that really enhanced the fun atmosphere of the race! I was running with several people who kindly warned those of us behind them when to watch out for a slippery patch or icy stairs. Shout out to you kind souls who probably kept all of us from a nasty fall!
There were two aid stations on the course and this race was the first time I actually grabbed a cup of something to drink. Please note that drinking while running and breathing simultaneously is a skill in and of itself! I downed some water at mile 2 and Gatorade at mile 4. I figured that I needed to re-hydrate during the race because it was more than twice the distance that I’ve raced previously. The aid stations were full of encouraging volunteers and they were so kind to stand out in the cold and give us something to drink! As always, the volunteers deserve a big thank you!
With about half a mile to go, I could hear the finish line music bumping in the distance. I started my (slippery) kick and had a strong finish sprinting across the finish line. A big ‘ole medal was waiting for me (seriously, the medal is crazy huge — and it SPINS) and I found my husband at the results board. I was actually shocked when he told me I finished third in my age group! After the craziness of the race and knowing it was my first time tackling this distance, I couldn’t believe I managed an age group finish. I got to take home another medal (this one glows in the dark)!
This race was such a fun way to kick off 2018. I needed a fun race before gearing up for half marathon training! This race also taught me to go with the flow and just enjoy the race experience. I came out of this race with much more confidence in my ability to overcome difficult circumstances and surprised myself by staying competitive amidst the craziness of the course.
This was a heck of a first trail race and I’m looking forward to finding some more trail races this year!