Signing up for this race was a last minute decision. I’d been back and forth about running this race as I have a specific race entry fee budget to stick to, so I carefully choose which races to run. I also have a marathon in Kansas coming up on Saturday. Thursday night in my Twix coma after watching a movie far too scary for me, I signed up for the race. I blame the sugar.
Some of my sweet logic involved the following:
-The race is a low key event that allows you to show up, park, and get to the start line in minimal time.
-Ryan’s grandma lives in Norwalk and it would be a chance to visit her.
-I’ve walked, ran, and biked these trails since I was introduced to them when I met Ryan 11 years ago.
-I had actually ran this course a few years ago when they held it in the spring. This race was less than stellar for me as I learned the important rule of how many adult beverages are safe to enjoy the night before a race. Lesson learned and never forgotten. I wanted to redeem myself.
-I was also curious about how fast I could run if I started out fast rather than easing into the race like I’d been doing for the past six months. I did not train for a half (i.e. no speed work) and have been only running 20ish miles a week so I really wasn’t sure.
-I knew the course would be gentle on the legs with the old railroad beds.
-I anticipated some good fall colors.
-The weather looked to be near perfect running temperatures.
So maybe it wasn’t just the sugar?!
Saturday night we went to a haunted house (something I don’t do) and then we went out for Mexican with some friends. I enjoyed my delicious enchilada verde with a strawberry margarita. Ryan and I were the first to leave as I mentioned I was running the next morning and wanted to get plenty of rest. Someone proceeded to say “ohhhh, Mexican the night before a race. You’re brave.” Way to scare me even more. Let’s just say that is a myth. If you know your body, then you can eat whatever you like. Before your first few races DO NOT eat new foods!
Sunday morning was bright and sunny! Packet pick up was a breeze. I had a mental goal to run a 1:49. I wanted to run my second fastest time. I was going to run 8:30 for four miles, 8:20 for four miles, 8:10 for the last four miles, and the fastest last mile I could.
The horn sounded and we were off. This race is flat, but has some gradual inclines that will make you say to yourself “Why does this feel so hard all the sudden?” I expected this and tried to race through the feeling. It is sort of a confidence buster when you feel it early on though.
It was around this point that I saw a friends mom who was handing out Powerade at an aid station. Funny how just a smiling face can make you smile. Smiling while running does make your perceived effort and pain seem less. Try it! You’ll be smiling a lot more when your running in the future. I also think it makes non-runners think you are even crazier. Definitely smile when running! 🙂
Mile 4 takes your through the 3/4 mile tunnel for the first time on this out and back course. Of course your Garmin will not be able to track you which is mildly frustrating when you have a time in mind. Personally, the tunnels always slow me down some. They were very well lit for being tunnels, but it is an adjustment to the eyes. I struggle with this anyways so I think it is more me than other people. The surface is also uneven at times and wet. My main focus was slow down a bit and DO NOT RESPRAIN your ankle. So I did just that. Running through the tunnels is a cool experience though.
mile 5-7:24 (GU-Salted Carmel…YUM)
Reaching the half way turnaround always gives me a surge in energy. The second half of the out and back was so beautiful. The trees still had their colorful leaves that looked like an arched canopy at times. The leaves were magically falling. I was starting to worry I was going way too fast, but chose to ignore the signs my body was sending me and push on. I readjusted my race goal to 1:47:something.
Before I knew it we were running back through the tunnel. I slowed my pace again giving my body a break and preserving the ankle. I planned to pick it up a bit when I got out of the tunnel.
I looked at my times and realized I had been running around 8:06 pace for the entire race. WAY faster than I’d expected. For some reason I just didn’t want to slow down. I wanted to run fast. I knew I had a chance to PR, but I had to hold on.
There was a whole lotta mental self talking going on for the last two miles. I so wanted to be done running, but kept telling myself I had a choice. I could cave to the rough feeling after working hard for the past 10-12 miles or I could hold on for one more measly mile. Come on! Don’t slow down. You will not be happy with yourself later on. Hold on!
I saw a familiar face or two the last quarter mile which was just what I needed. 150 meters from the finish was Ryan and his Grandma. I wanted to die, but we all know that is just a feeling. That doesn’t really usually happen. I crossed the finish line with a new PR. Totally unexpected until mile 10, but never the less exciting. PR’s never get old.
I saw so many people I knew running today. I love to see others out there doing what I love, too. Several of them PR’d out there today, too! Enjoy the sweet taste of beating yourself and running faster than you ever have before. And really, congrats to all of you who ran! Each race is something to be proud of. It looks like eating lots of Twix bars and signing up for races is a good thing!
Rails to Trails Half Marathon
*Yes, I am wearing navy capris, a black shirt, and a brown vest. This is a horrendous fashion sin I’ve never committed prior to today. Also, I wore this into Kwik Trip to get coffee after the race and felt no shame. Funny the things an awesome race will cause you to do.