What a weekend! (part 1)

No wonder I slept 10 hours last night...and I could still go for a nap!

Friday afternoon the hubby and I attended a JDRF fundraiser BBQ about an hour away. After a delicious lunch I headed to the nearby running store (Gazelle Sports--ranked as one of the top 50 running retailers in the nation) to pick up a headlamp. Friday night I was registered for a 15k trail race (Moonlit Miles for Marrow) starting at 7:30pm. As it was rainy/drizzly and overcast I thought it might be good to have on my head, just in case. It turned out that I didn't need it, but had I been on the course much longer I think it would have been useful in the last mile or two. I also found a favorite running/biking top (it has 2 small pockets that make it useful for short rides when I need a place to stow keys and phone) on clearance.

After leaving the running store I headed North to my best friend's house. She lives about 20 minutes from the race site (this race is held at the same location as the upcoming Le Tour de Donut event), so the plan was to crash at her place post-race.

We (my best friend, another friend, and I) arrived at the race with about an hour to kill. Shortly after arrival the rain started again. We donned our bibs and timing chips and eventually made our way from the dry shelter of the building to the starting line...in the cool rain. After a minute or two of standing with the other 112 runners we were starting to get chilled, so welcomed the starting gun.

It seemed like the rain ended as soon as we started running, but the course was still entirely soaked and muddy for the full 9.3 miles. I wore brand new trail shoes that no longer look even remotely new. It was awesome.

In addition to being overly prepared with the headlamp I also wore my Amphipod belt with a single 20oz bottle (and my phone and inhaler). Since this was a brand new race I was leery about course support and fluids. Turns out I had no need to worry. Wow, this may have been the best supported race I have ever run. They had fabulous support with water, Gatorade, and even Gu at one point on the course. Next year I will be less weighed-down with just my number belt and the little pouch to hold my inhaler and phone (normally I wouldn't run with a phone, but they recommend it on this course).

I didn't push myself hard for the first 7.5 miles...most of it was spent with a group of 3-4 20-something runners who were doing their first trail run ever...and having a blast. I was enjoying running with them so much that I didn't feel much urge to try to push harder. Plus I had no idea what the course held in store, so decided to take it easy this first time. Next year I know what to expect, so I'll definitely be more in "race mode."

My friends were behind me by a little ways for most of the race. I also didn't care to get too far ahead of them. And the big trail relay is 3 weeks away, so this wasn't as much a "race" as it is a hard training run. Before this event I had done no trail miles for '10, so I need to get those muscles reminded that not all running is on flat asphalt.

The first half of the race was on a lot of twisty, rolling, muddy, slippery woodlands. The last half was entirely a winding course through apple orchards. Footing was wet, but smooth on nicely mowed grass. Several volunteers apologized for the weather...we made sure to tell that that we were thankful for the mud and rain (which makes for an extra enjoyable trail race experience) and appreciative that they were standing in it. I also told nearly every volunteer I saw to tell the director that they had come up with a really fun, well-done event supporting a great charity and that I couldn't wait to come back next year.

About 7.5 miles in one of my friends caught up with me (the same friend who said she was slow prior to the race). She passed me about a half mile later and was a bit ahead of me for the remainder of the race. I could not catch her. She is one of those "natural" runners with a long, lean frame. She could be VERY strong with the right training. My bestie had some bowel issues around the halfway point and was very thankful that I'd brought an extra hanky. Said hanky is now composting somewhere in an apple orchard in Greenville, MI.

I finished at exactly 1:38 and pretty much dead in the middle for women. About a minute/mile slower than my road pace for the same distance. Not bad, really. I generally expect my trail pace to be 1-2 minutes slower. We didn't stick around for the post-race party, but they had a live band, pork BBQ sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad, and Founder's Brewery beer. Looked like a great celebration. Next year I would love it if my hubby and kid came along to spectate and party afterwards.

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