April 22, 2012

Directionally Challenged

Yesterday morning, I headed over to the Blackwater Forest in Florida for the first race in a series of three, a 10 miler. (They also had a 10K option.) I was super excited for a few reasons- getting to test out my first pair of trail shoes EVER (Brooks Pure Grit, YAY), to take a break from pounding the pavement while experiencing a new running adventure, and to check out the trail for a the possible 50K in December. So... for those reasons, my day was a complete SUCCESS!!!! Now on to why I'm a complete and utter idiot.

I got to the start in plenty of time and did a 2 mile warm up on park roads. I knew myself well enough to not venture out on the trail alone. See, I get lost in my car frequently... and I have a TomTom. (What does that say about my intelligence?) Also, even though I've been running basically the SAME route every Sunday with my group, I still try to turn down various wrong roads occasionally. (Again, what does this say about my intelligence?) Anyway, we took a bus to the start. The bus ride allowed me the chance to meet a group of guys from the area that I decided I could run with, or at least try to.

I started off a tad fast, but once realizing my mistake, slowed down and let the group of guys catch up to me. My shoes felt great, and the trail was AWESOME. It was a bit more challenging than I expected- lots of turns, roots, and tree limbs to duck under. I ran cautiously behind the pack in miles 1-6. It was then that my shoe came untied, and I let the group go. Then I decided to just GO, no more pansy-ing around in the woods, time to let LOOSE. I was like a mad woman, running, jumping, tripping (but saving myself mid-air), and turning. It was ridiculously awesome. I didn't even look at my Garmin. Too busy concentrating and flying. All of a sudden the guys appeared behind me. Apparently, they had gotten off the path, but found their way back. This gave me even a bigger boost. I heard one of them comment that I had picked up speed, and it was now my mission to DITCH the boys. Hahaha. I beat them to the 8 mile marker, where I knew to go onto the dirt railroad path. I could've sworn I had heard the RD say that this road went all the way to the finish. This part of the path was very flat, but dusty, and I tried to pick up even more speed. I stopped seeing the yellow flags, but in my pea-sized mind I thought this was b/c we were so close to the finish and it was just a straight shot. I also didn't hear the guys behind me, but once again, considered that I had picked up so much speed that I was really far ahead. Also, I saw footprints ahead of me, validating that I was going the right way. Hmmmm.... I kept runnin' and runnin' and runnin'.

My Garmin said 10 miles, but I also knew the RD said it might be a bit over. So, I assumed I was almost there. All of a sudden a guy in a Brooks ID jersey comes running TOWARDS me shouting, "Wrong way! Wrong way!" He says some other obscenities, tells me he ran all the way to the end and nothing was there. Wow. At this point, I knew overall female would be lost; so I just started jogging. Plus, I didn't know how far away I had gotten myself, but remembering how long it had been since I saw a yellow flag, I assumed pretty far. Apparently, he had been first male, too. Ironic that the first male AND first female, both Brooks ID runners, ran off course. Hmmmmmm. I was really glad to have some company because I probably would've gotten scared if I had been alone.

We mosey back another mile and a half, and catch up to another small group running our way. We tell them to turn back, and they do. We all find the correct trail, a small path to the right of the dirt railroad path. Brooks friend and I then make it our mission to pass as many people as we can. Hahaha, gotta have goal.

Then I fell flat on my face, because I am awesome like that. I tell him to go on, brush myself off and continue on. More wooden bridges, limbs, turns, etc. I'm not running fast anymore. My left ankle and right knee feel a bit wonky, forcing me to a jog. Plus, I'm 13 miles into this race and had only had water, no fueling products. Finally, I exit the trail and know the finish is near. I jog it on in, but don't cross the line. I decided I didn't want that crappy 10 mile time on my record. Hahaha.

Miles 1-3: 659, 656, 705
Miles 4-6: 8:20, 954, 910
Miles 7-10: 859, 853, 753, 722
Miles 11-14: 809, 743, 935, 737

Average: 8:07

I love how the splits are all over the place. It kind of explains of how crazy I ran out there, and I LOVE it! After so many races on the road, worrying over pace, and concentrating on the Garmin, it felt so good just to let loose! I love those slow paces b/c I know it was when I was turning, climbing, and tripping (haha). Those faster paces are when I was flying down the trails like a crazy person. While I'm disappointed that I gave up the overall female award, I learned a valuable lesson about paying attention to my surroundings. And... I'm so excited for the next two races in this series, and any other trail races I might find.

Run Happy, friends!

Ps. Get excited for my upcoming post about my rocking summer job. :)


  1. OMG- how crazy! I totally understand about not crossing and getting a bad time. :-) Glad you had fun and ran strong!

  2. Sounds like you may have had a little TOO much fun jumping around in the woods! LOL

    Mishaps and all, I love your positive attitude and the lessons you took from this event. I think this is some sort of "initiation" to trail running anyhow:)

    You could be some trail beast in the making ;)

  3. Sorry you lost the win but sounds like you still did some great running! I am afraid of trails for the falling and the getting lost! :)
    Great job! :) Glad another IDer helped you out.

    We have some great trail races out here if you ever want to come hang out in Wyoming! :)

  4. Hahaha. I'm sorry you got lost, but it sounds like you had a blast! I totally understand about not crossing the finish line. I've had some bad races and/or paced slower runners...and had people ask about my slower times. I want there to be a footnote option for stuff like this!

  5. This is really fun seeing you step out of your usual zone. What a change from the regimen of roads and splits and all the stuff us road runners are accustomed to. I can't wait to see what your next couple races are like, once you have the hang of navigating (if that should ever happen, lol). ;)

  6. Anonymous4/23/2012

    Hee, trail running is a completely different beast than road running, isn't it? Running 13 miles in a 10-mile race, what a chump. :-) Glad you had fun!

  7. Anonymous4/23/2012

    Oh sweetie so sorry to hear that! I do LOVE your attitude about it though.

    Summer job? I do not envy you. No summer work for me. :-)

  8. What a wild race! This is probably the number one reason I have not done a trail race yet. Your ability to laugh off all of it might inspire me to take on a new challenge though. :)

    Cool that you got to use the pure grits in a race!

    I will remember NOT to cross the mat if I ever get lost. (Which is probably going to happen at one point.) The athlinks records must not be tarnished..haha!

  9. Anonymous4/23/2012

    Wow, that stinks about getting turned around, but that is a funny lesson in a way. Sounds like a great adventure all in all.

  10. Unlike Zoolander I can only turn left, I feel your 'directionally challenged' pain, having zero sense of direction myself. Still, nice to enjoy a run through the trees and have fun. I really enjoy your blog :)

  11. oh and your blog name! I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the 'runs like a girl' thing said as an insult!!!!!!! I keep threatening to have a tshirt made 'run like THIS girl!' :D