Three races down in the RNUTS series, and we’ve had three extreme weather/trail conditions. The first race had temp’s in the single digits, race number two had 8-10 inches of snow, and race number three on Saturday had rain and shoe-sucking mud! But hey, that’s the trail experience. As I mentioned last Friday, I was originally signed up for the 10 miler but decided to drop down to the 5 miler. My training is just not where I expected it to be at this point. It’s a bummer, because I like longer distances, but it’s the right choice for me. The good news is I am healthy and back to running regularly, and I have no reason to not expect to be ready for the trail half (my next race in the series) at the beginning of May. Anyway, back to Saturday’s race: the Montvale 5 Miler, better known as the ‘Montvale Mudfest’. Once again, I convinced Barry to tag along with me and he ran the 10 miler. We arrived at the race about 30 minutes before start time and hung around, used the restroom, and attended the prerace meeting. I love small, low-key races! A little before 9, we made the quarter mile walk from the park pavilion over to the start area. We had to cross a (very springy) footbridge over a full creek to get to the start. Towards the end of the race, we had to run back across that same footbridge. That was interesting with all the mud on my shoes! The 10 miler started right at 9 AM, and the 5 miler started about 10 minutes later. It was in the low 40’s and very cloudy at the start. Shortly after we got going, it started to rain. It ended up raining for the rest of the race, for the most part. It was mostly light, but heavier at times. What’s a trail race without a little (or a lot, in this case) of mud?? The first couple of miles ticked by, and I was enjoying being out on the course. I’m still not running the way I would like to, but this is the first race of the year where I allowed myself to just be happy to be out there. Between miles 1 and 2 Barry spotted me (I think he was somewhere around mile 4) and hollered out to me. We were separated by a hollow, and it was neat to suddenly have him cheer me on! During miles 3 and 4 I kept working. The trail had become very sloppy at this point and my feet were sliding all over the place with each step. Somehow I managed to stay on my feet. The switchbacks were the toughest place to maintain my footing, both going up and going down.
A little after mile 4, I came careening down a hill. There was a lady standing in the curve at the bottom making sure 5 milers (and 10 milers on their second loop) turned left. I literally slid down the hill and into the curve, and nearly into her! We both laughed, as I regained my footing and kept going.
I didn’t think it possible, but the trail got even sloppier in the final mile. There were actually a few spots where I either used my hands to scramble up a steep, but short slick hill, or grabbed a tree trunk on the way downhill to keep from falling. Then it was back across that precarious footbridge (with a volunteer stationed at it asking each runner “please be careful!) and on to the finish.
After I finished, I hung out at the finish line and waited for Barry. I didn’t have to wait too long before he came blazing in with a strong finish. Then it was time for some post-race food in the pavilion and awards. I didn’t run my best race on Saturday, but I did manage to squeak out a third place finish in my age group. Barry also snagged third in a very competitive age group. We both had a pretty great day and enjoyed running on some really nice trails through an old growth forest. And boy were we muddy! It kind of makes me feel like a kid again (except this time no one is coming after me with a water hose in the yard before I’m allowed into the house…). Yea… we probably should have brought some towels. Oops. At least we had other shoes to change into. Next up in the RNUTS series is the Mill Mountain 10K trail race. I have opted out of this one, because it is the weekend before the Blue Ridge Half Marathon. However, I am going to volunteer at the race and Barry is going to run it. He decided over the weekend to sign up for the series before their Monday deadline! Do you like playing in the mud? Have you ever volunteered at a race?