Monday, October 22, 2012

Hidden Forest Trail Run

For some reason, I felt the need to do another race for the third weekend in a row. I was feeling like I had mostly healed from the half marathon and knew some others that were going to run the Hidden Forest Trail Run at Independence Oaks County Park, so I decided to go for it.

One aspect of the race that was appealing to me was the price. They offered a no t-shirt option for $7 ($10 late registration like I did) or the race with the shirt for $17 ($20). I went without a shirt, though they were nice, long sleeve shirts (some women I knew at the race commented that they didn't like the colors). Based on our family's finances, I am becoming increasingly price conscious when it comes to racing. It's hard to harp on others spending money when I am spending on "non-essentials" like racing (I see it as the cost of maintaining fitness, but that's another topic). The race was run by the Riverbend Striders, a group out of Flushing, MI (suburb of Flint), who put on 8 - 10 races yearly. This race is the southern-most of the races they organize. Apparently, because they aren't trying to make a bunch of money, they can keep their race prices reasonable.

The main entrance to the park was closed because of construction, so we had to take a detour to another park entrance. This detour was on a dirt road and with the recent rains, it was quite bumpy and messy (I still need to wash my car). The registration took place at the Twin Chimneys pavilion, which, in fact, does have 2  fireplaces and chimneys. It was a warm place to hang out and stay out of the drizzle. Happily, the rain stopped prior to the race.

I decided to run the 5.5 mile race as a training for some future 10k. All 3 race distances (2.5, 5.5 and 8.5 miles) started at the same time and with a good amount of runners, the starting line was a bit of a cluster.For some reason (perhaps the detour), the race started late too. Anyhow, once we got going, I was running with a couple of my Brooksie Way running buddies and one encouraged me to just run around the pack and go. After hesitating for a moment, I took off along the side of the trail and passed massive amounts of people (this race had enough people that they should have asked people to line up by pace).

Even though I was passing people, my pace wasn't what I was hoping for and, once we hit the hills, that pace went out the window (it has been months since I ran on a flat course). I struggled a bit more than I was expecting, but started to feel better around mile 3 - before I went the wrong way. There was a fork where one direction when ahead and the other to the finish chute. It wasn't marked well (unlike the rest of the course) and when I was getting near it, I shouted to the volunteers asking which way to go for the 5.5 mile race. Instead of saying "left" or "right", she said "straight", so I continued straight from where I was on the path. Unfortunately, this was the wrong way and sent me towards the chute where the 2.5 milers were finishing. I was ticked and considered just going through the finish and being done. Instead, I ran back the way I came and went the right way. It probably cost me about a minute and, more importantly, I just felt deflated. Running is very (mostly?) mental and I was not mentally strong about the wrong turn. It probably took about a mile after that to quit worrying about the wrong turn.

The second loop was much hillier than the first, with a couple redonkulous hills. I caught several people during / after the hills and started to feel a little better as a result. I had one runner who was probably a tenth of a mile ahead of me with less than a half-mile to go in my sights and my mini-goal was to catch him. I came close and, if I would have done my madman sprint at the end, I would have caught him, but I didn't want to look insane, so I just cruised down the chute to the finish.

My finish time was 42:56, which was just 30 seconds off my goal for the day. I was cool with that considering the wrong turn, but it was less so when I found that, even with the extra distance with my wrong turn, the course was about .25 miles short according to my Garmin. After waiting for some people to finish, we headed back to Twin Chimneys to view the results. The age group awards were plaques and I wanted one, if only because I have medals, ribbons, certificates and trophies, but no plaques. I was prepared to be angry if my wrong turn cost me one, but it didn't. I finished 5th, out of the money, and even if I didn't make the wrong turn, I probably wouldn't have placed any higher. I'm still not fast enough to expect to win anything, but well... I want to win. :) A couple of the people I met at the race did win something and I am happy for them, they did great!

Despite the wrong turn and not winning anything, I enjoyed the race. Hopefully, they can work out a couple kinks, but it was nice to have a local trail race with a good turnout. This won't ever be a "goal race", but if it works out that I can participate in the future, I will likely do so.

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