When I woke up Sunday morning, I could hear the rain coming down. I checked out the weather for the rest of the morning. The real feel temperature would be around 48 with fog and rain. These were not the best conditions for a half marathon on the trails at Pinchot Park. I could only imagine how much mud there would be from all the rain over the past couple days.
I thought about bailing, but ultimately decided to suck it up and do the race. What else did I have planned for that day? Puzzles and CNN? I could do that when I got home...
It only takes me about 25 minutes to get to Pinchot. Packet pick up took 10 seconds, the bathroom line took six minutes, and the race only started about three minutes late. Not bad!
I saw Ana and Roger before the race started. We chatted a bit and I wished her luck. We were both just running "for fun". (HAHAHA!)
I lined up in the back of the front, if that makes sense. I have learned from my past couple trail races that if I line up too far in the back, I get stuck behind people and have to work very hard to pass them.
It turned out I lined up at the perfect spot because during the race only about 5 people passed me and I passed probably the same number. No one was up my butt and I wasn't up anyone else's butts. It was perfect. I could run my own pace without feeling pressure.
Guys, the trail conditions were INSANE. I am not exaggerating when I say 90% of the course was either:
1. Thick, deep mud.
2. Thick, deep mud with water in the middle of the mud pits.
3. A "stream" running down the middle of the trail.
4. A "stream" running across the trail- anywhere between ankle deep and knee deep.
Each one of those conditions were challenging in their own way. The worst was the mud. That took a lot out of me, trying to get through it. I walked up some of the hills, but other than that, it was just one foot in front of the other, plodding along.
You could say I broke in my new trail shoes...
I started out pretty fast (sub 9s) but the whole race I felt like I was pushing myself. Even when I was doing an 11-12 minute miles, it felt like a huge effort. My HR was in zone 5.2 which I know was too high. Should I be careful of that?
It's funny how before the race I was so worried about getting my feet wet, and then before we even went 1 mile we were running through knee deep, freezing cold water. You can't get wetter than wet but you can get colder than cold. And that water was COLD.
I didn't listen to a single podcast during the race. I had to concentrate on the terrain the whole time. It was mentally exhausting. At one road crossing, I turned the wrong way and the crowd had to turn me around. "I can't think anymore!" I told then.
By mile 8 my legs were JELLY. It is so hard to run on technical terrain when your muscles are tired. I didn't fall, but I had a few close calls.
Around mile 10 there was a straight up stream crossing. The water was flowing and up to my shorts. There was a yellow rope to hold onto if needed. But where were the lifeguards? I held onto that rope! My mom would be pissed if I drowned at the Squirrely Tail Twail Wun! At this point it felt like more like a Tough Mudder than just an ordinary half marathon in a state park!
Since it was a trail race there weren't many spectators on the course. But there was a dude with his son at the top of a hill around mile 10.5. "Are you ready to be done?" he asked me. Dang! What I way to cheer someone on!
I was soooooo excited to see the finish! I finished 32nd with a time of 2:10. I was proud of my time and could not have run any faster that day!
I grabbed some coffee (they had Starbucks!) and waited at the finish with Roger to see Ana come through. I got very, very cold but it was worth it to see my friend finish. Ana is one of those people that looks good after running a 1/2 marathon.
I couldn't wait to get in my warm car, but when I tried to back out of the parking lot, my car was stuck in the mud! Three dudes had to help push.
I refueled with a foot long flatbread from subway. And kitty cuddles!
The backs of my heels were a little tingly when I got home... I think they were still feeling the cold!
What are the worst trail conditions you ever ran in?
Great job on such difficult terrain! Did you know you might have to run through water? It's a good thing the outside temps were above freezing and That you were able to wear shorts. That would have been miserable running in pants that were soak and wet!ReplyDelete
My first 10K ever was a trail run through the woods. It had rained the night before so everything was muddy. We had to climb up an embankment to the start line and several people wiped out before we even started!
I figured my feet would be wet but I had no idea there would be multiple places where I'd be running through water up to mid calf height or higher! You are right, it is good it wasn't colder. If it was going to be colder, I would want it to be so cold that everything was frozen.Delete
Oh man slippy mud! At least it was a 10k... sounds less sucky to run all muddy for 6 miles.
Congrats on your trail run! I'm really proud of you for getting out and doing it even with the weather and crappy trail conditions. You never can pay much attention to pace on a trail because you have to run the course but you had a good time. You def. earned the flatbread, magnet, and right to sit around for the rest of the day. Hope you are recovering well this week too!ReplyDelete
Thanks Amy! Yes trail races are hard to compare even year to year due to trail conditions. If it wasn't wet and muddy, I could have run much faster. BUT I am really proud of my time considering those crazy conditions!Delete
I ran this too. It was fun, wet and muddy. How about that water crossing at mile number 9 or so? With the rope to get across? I finished at 2:55. Not a personal best time, usually finish a half in under 2 hours. But I enjoyed it, none the less. My buddy Byron was rooting people on. I think the Conewago clay was what was really tough. Just slippery...look me up on Facebook (Ryan M. Deardorff) for some pictures. Good job Megan!Delete
The water crossing was crazy, Ryan! Did you hang onto that rope they had out? I checked out your pics, very good! Congrats on finishing!Delete
Where did you make the wrong turn? I found the markings around mile 11 to be very confusing, they were all over the place and by the rocks!!ReplyDelete
That was without a doubt the toughest conditions for a race for me, ever! The whole place was cold water, and mud. My sister told me that she doesn't know why I torture my body this way.
Congratulations on an awesome finish!! Are you sore anywhere? My arms were sore.
Those rocks were a SICK JOKE. I had a hard time getting over those boulders as my legs were jelly by then. It was at one of the roads, I'm not sure which one. About the middle part of the race. There were lots of people there, I just wasn't paying attention. :)Delete
I was very sore and creaky after the race but today I am not sore at all. I ran 6 slooooooow miles and it felt good.
I just keep thinking it was really cold getting in that water, no?? Great job on the race. I've never run in any muddy trail races - just 2 raining road marathons.ReplyDelete
It was cold! But for some reason my toes would warm up in between, which is weird because they never dried!Delete
Awesome job Megan! That is a great finishing time given the insane conditions! I ran this as well, I finished around 2:45. I knew my feet were going to get soaked from the get go, but I didn't think it was going to be like running in a creek for 13.1 miles. LOL I almost lost my shoe a few times from the suction in the deep mud pits. It was hard to run super fast because you couldn't tell what the terrain looked like under the water, rock / root wise. My toes actually got numb for about the last 5-6 miles because that water was so cold. Still it was an awesome time, and I am already thinking about and looking forward to next years run. The parking area was super saturated like you mentioned! I had to put my vehicle in 4wd to get out of spot, and others were having similar dilemmas! Congratulations again on the great finishing time!ReplyDelete
I was so not expecting the trail basically being a creek the whole way either! I heard about people almost losing shoes. I tie my shoes really tight and I was still worried about losing mine. I can't believe I didn't fall because you're right- there was no way to know what was in that deep, muddy water. You did a great job out there in tough conditions! Thanks for reading. :)Delete
Great job! I know all about cat snuggles after a cold run. It's like she knows I need some extra heat. Either that, or she knows I'm not moving for a while.ReplyDelete
I think the best sandwich I've ever had was after a half. I was walking back to my hotel, and it was late enough that Jimmy Johns was open. Turkey and cheese was delicious.
Cats are so intuitive. But also selfish. It's crazy! Sandwiches are really good post race food!Delete
Wow, you (and Ana) are amazing for doing a trail run in that weather. You finished with a great time and definitely deserved the couch for the rest of the day!ReplyDelete
I had no motivation to do anything else! She made it out for sushi. :)Delete
DAMN! This sounds like a crazy challenge from all fronts but you are Megan and you faced the challenge head on like I would expect you to! :) I can't imagine going into a river with water up to my waist during a race! It would probably feel better here than up there since it's so hot here, but I bet it was TOUGH with tired legs!ReplyDelete
Could you imagine if it was like 30 degrees that day rather than 45? We would all have frostbite because it would be just as wet and muddy, but a lot colder! I'm not sure what I would have done... So in a way, I guess it could have been worse!Delete
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