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?