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
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. :)