Um, so, yeah. It was freezing. 25 and overcast when I started running at 9:00. The trail was either snow covered, icy, grooved ice with snow, grooved ice with packed clay/dirt, packed dirt. It was a navigation, but I didn’t notice how difficult the navigation was until I was headed up hill at about mile 8. So, fatigued. But, it was lovely–steel gray sky, leafless trees all over the trail, frozen ponds and marshland occasionally. People were saying that it is kind of a boring run (and, perhaps, if you were to run all 33.5 miles of it, yes), but this winter treadmill runner found it to be really refreshing.
Like every runner in the world, I tend to go out fast, so I wanted to focus on pacing. I followed a few dudes for a while, keeping an eye on my pace on my fancy (but now old–it looks like a desktop on my arm, but I do love it) gps watch (I don’t have a phone, or I’m sure I’d use an app instead). One of the guys took off, but the other, whom I’d heard say he was running 18, kept steady. I pulled next to him, asked if he minded if I borrowed his pacing skills, and had a buddy. We talked a little, about running and the weather, but stayed in our heads mostly. I used to be a run with a friend kind of a runner, but I really really enjoy solo running (it’s the introvert in me–I have to be extroverted with students, and I think it provides my balance), so this was kind of perfect.
There was John at the first interchange in case I needed him, but he said I looked strong and knew I’d keep going at that pace. Unbeknownst to me, he (who would be running the next 13.9 miles after me) and his daughter (who finished up our last 3.5 after their friend ran between 6 and 7) had both LEFT THEIR RUNNING SHOES AT HOME. I shit you not. Ha. John was considering teasing his girl, but then he realized that he’d made the same mistake, so thank goodness he held his tongue. After they saw me, they sped at 100 mph or so home to get shoes and meet me at my finish line. My layers worked, but as soon as I stopped running, shivers overtook my body, so I was really glad I’d brought dry clothes, even if I needed another 2 coats. We had one other snafu along the way, but Team Occupy KalHaven finished 13th among the 43 mixed male and female 4 to 6 person teams, and 2nd among 4 person. Our final time was about 5 hours, 4 minutes. Thirty three and a half miles is a long way!
AND, 8:59 minute miles average over my 9.6 miles. With the terrain what it was, I was really happy with it. I don’t know if I can hold that pace for another 3.5 miles for my half in a month, but I would love to be able to. But, weather, different course, etc. etc. etc. Who knows? All I can keep doing is training.
But, I feel really really proud that I did it. I really do love running. I love the challenge. I love pushing myself. I have realized that 10 miles is the farthest really race-able distance for me. I don’t feel fatigued until 8.5 or 9, and I think on a non slippery course, I could really kick it in. But, I know that 13.1 is a finish it with a goal, but you aren’t beating anyone kind of a distance. If I can finally catch my 2 hour goal, I do think I’ll try to race 10Ks. There just aren’t any 10 milers within an hour’s drive, which is a bummer. But, I loved this relay. Really fun. I’m totally in for next year!