Best laid plans...
Then enter the stress fracture which made me sit out of Rocket City Marathon, Lookout Mountain 50 mile, Recover from the Holidays 50k, and Mountain Mist 50k. So, I knew that the 50k at Black Warrior was a no-go. There is a 25k option to this race, which I was glad to have.
I really debated how to attack this. I've done a few hikes of 10+ miles. I had hiked the 25k course. But hiking and trail running are as different as walking and running. So, part of me thought it would be best to sit back and hike part of the race and run part of it. That would have been smart. I'm not smart. I really debated doing that up until I heard the word "go".
When we started, I was at the back of the pack to try to hold myself back. However, I just automatically started passing people. I looked at them and judged that they would not be as fast on the trails as I would be. I judged that they would dodge mud and tip-toe and stop when a blow over crossed the trail. So, I didn't want to be behind them.
Then, halfway to the trail, I realized I was being stupid. But I couldn't slow down. Ok. I have to slow down. I'm not used to this. I'm going to hurt myself. With some mental effort, I did back off just a tad.
Then, we hit the trail. My oh my how I love to run trails. Especially muddy ones. It was just plain fun. So I started running faster. And faster. And faster. Passing people. When they dodged the mud, I splashed right through past them. Oh what fun. I felt great. I was in total race mode now. See someone? Pick them off.
When I got to the aid station, I refilled my bottle as quickly as I could. I was there less than 10 seconds, passing someone who I was behind as we entered. Oh yeah. It's a race now. I think I can break 2:15 in my first race back! That would be huge.
On the way over, I was riding with two trail newbies, Lance and Chris. This was the first trail race for both of them, and it was Chris's first trail run ever. And I told them that if they break 2:15, I'll buy them a cookie. Or ice cream. Their choice. Unless, of course, the gimp (me) finishes ahead of them. I passed Lance about a mile before the aid station. Now, I'm thinking, "How much of a lead does Chris have?" Swoosh. Pass. Splash. Fun.
I ran up on a guy who was dodging as much mud as possible. But he was determined not to let me pass him, so I settled in behind him. When we got to a big mudhole, I plowed right through and passed him and determined to drop him. Man, I was having fun.
Uh oh. I haven't been running. I'm not in shape. I see Dan Burleson up ahead. Ok. That's a goal. Man, this is starting to hurt. Go get Dan. At least there'll be some company if you catch him. I got up to within talking distance and we greeted one another. Then, I fell back. I'm hurting. (Not my leg. Not my bone. It feels fine. But every fiber of soft tissue from my hips to my toes is screaming at me.)
I start to walk any up and run the flats and downs. How far is the road from here anyway? Oh no. I'm done. Now, I'm walking the flats and ups and running the downs. Ok... Let's run. No, my legs won't do it. It's over. I pretty much walked the last 3.5 miles of this race. I was definitely on pace to break 2:15. No doubt about that. But it's a 25k. And I ran it like a 15k.
Here's how not to run a 25k. Don't run the first 20k well above your fitness level and then walk the last 5k. That's not a good plan and you'll be sore for days. And your stomach will be upset. And you'll feel generally miserable.
It's Tuesday, and I just now feel like I could run if I wanted to (haven't decided yet). That was really stupid. But, it was fun until I couldn't run any more. I walked the last half mile or so to the road. I got to the road with 2.6 miles to go in 2:00. I finished in 2:38. My philosophy was this. Walking doesn't hurt. Running hurts. So, I'm not going to run. It seems like 50 people passed me on the road. I totally didn't care. Lance was among those who passed me, and I think he had an awesome day out there. Welcome to trail running Lance!
I owe Chris cookies. He crushed it for a first trail race. 2:07. Man. Great job!