This past Saturday I drove up to Falling Creek Park in Bedford for my second ever trail race. My experience at this race was a lot different than my first trail race.
I arrived at the park about 30 minutes before the start of the race and was directed to park in a grass field, which was being used for overflow parking. It’s a good thing I got there when I did! Just after I parked, the girl directing cars said “two more and then shut the gate because we’ll be full.”
I hit the restrooms, and then headed down to the main pavilion to catch the tail end of the pre-race briefing. I have been through two of these meetings for trail races now, and they always confuse me and make me worry I am going to get lost. I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to have the opposite effect, though.
Once the meeting wrapped up, we all headed down the hill from the pavilion to the start line. I bumped into my friend Jessie, who was running the half marathon, and hung out with her before the start. We failed to get a picture together at any point during the day, but it was great to see her! At 9 o’clock the half marathoners were off, and then we waited for our turn (10K started 10 minutes later). A few minutes later it was our turn to run!
The race started up a grass hill, did a brief stint on a paved path, and then we plunged down into the woods to take to the trails. It’s amazing how my heart rate can skyrocket just minutes after the start of a trail race. I think my average heart rate on trails stays higher than it does during most road races.
The course had rolling hills through the woods for the first mile and a half or so. We came out of the woods and ran on a paved road for a short distance before going back into the woods just before mile two. At this point, I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, and as I ran down the winding trail I worried I was off course. This was the only time this happened the whole race. But then I saw a pink streamer with polka dots and knew I was on course. They had the race course really well marked!
Around mile 3.5 we passed through a water stop. It was kind of hot/humid out, so I chose to fill up my handheld from a pitcher. I quickly ate a Salted Caramel Gu (yum!) so that I could toss it in the trash bin, and then headed back into the woods. Some of the trails were technical with roots and rocks through the woods, while others were smooth dirt through fields.
There were a few times that we popped up out of the woods to a clearing and had some really gorgeous views. I really enjoyed running in Falling Creek Park. If I lived in that area, I’d be visiting that place often.
I had to walk on some of the hills, especially later in the race, but I think my legs are still recovering from last weekend’s Blue Ridge Half Marathon. I think as I get stronger on trails I will be able to run a course like this in it’s entirety. I finished the race in 1:19:54.
My Garmin was off, but the race ended up being roughly 6.4 miles long. The race director had warned us of this beforehand. I think it’s kind of the norm for trail races to claim “10K” or “half marathon” and that really just means they’re in the ballpark of that distance. And I’m cool with that. I know one thing – they have good post race food spreads.
After the race I hung out with Jessie and watched the awards ceremonies and raffle (I didn’t win anything, boo). The pavilion was a great gathering place. Then it was time to hit the road home. My throat was bothering me a bit on the way home, so I stopped at McD’s to get my favorite – a mango pineapple smoothie.
That way I would have brain freeze in addition to my sore throat. But it was yummy! And don’t worry, I’m wasn’t driving in the above picture. My right foot is on the brake and I was at a stop light.
Overall, I had a great time at this race. This was my first Mountain Junkies LLC race, and they do a great job! The course was so pretty and I wish they were holding the race again next month so that I could run it again! Instead I have about a month break before I tackle my next race, which also happens to be a Mountain Junkies race – Conquer the Cove 25K. Fifteen miles on trails, better start training!
Who else raced this weekend?
Have you ever gotten lost during a race?
What’s your favorite “special treat” beverage?