*Warning: There is a picture of a large scratch and a bit of blood about midway through this post. What’s a trail race without a little blood??
This past Saturday I ran the Trail Nut Half Marathon. This was the fifth race in the Mountain Junkie’s Roanoke Non-Ultra Trail Series, and my fourth race in the series. I haven’t had very good training in 2015, but I am having a good time at these races! Saturday’s race went pretty well, until it wasn’t going so well. But lets back up.
Last year I made it to Bedford (a little over 90 minutes away) just before they ran out of parking. So this year I made sure to get there a bit earlier. It worked out and I arrived about an hour before the race start. I picked up my packet, got ready for the race, and headed down to the pavilion for the pre-race meeting. I always find these meetings so confusing, but I’ve yet to get lost at a Mountain Junkies race! I also got to meet John, whom I’ve corresponded with on Twitter. Cool!
Shortly after our pre-race meeting we headed down the hill to a grassy area to get the race started. We waited around a few minutes, and before I knew it we were off and running! I was familiar with the first 3 miles of the course, as they are the same for the half and 10k (and I ran the 10K last year). It was still relatively cool, but sunny, and it felt great to be out running in the woods.
A little after mile 2 my Achilles started to feel like they were on fire. This happens to me on trails sometimes (I don’t know why, it’s sporadic) and I can usually just run through it. I ran through it, and eventually the pain went away. Unfortunately, my feet also went numb at this point. That went away a few miles later, but it’s annoying to run with numb feet.
A little after 3 miles the half marathon split from the 10K and headed up a huge hill to the bike park area. This hill was no joke!
The bike park was really neat to run through. We were weaving all over the place around various mountain bike obstacles. It reminded me of one of those crazy mouse roller coasters!
As we exited the bike park we ran through a really pretty open field area. The trail was pretty muddy, and it was the clay-type mud. When I made it down to the bottom I actually stopped briefly to wipe some of the mud off of the bottom of my shoes. It felt like I was running with ankle weights with all of that mud stuck to the bottom.
We spent the next three miles weaving through the woods, with lots of small-ish hills and lots of switchbacks. During this time we merged back with the 10K’ers for a bit. It was kind of nice to see some more people on the trail.
Then, just after mile 7 (mile 7 for the half, mile 6 for the 10K) we split off again as the 10K headed for the finish. I was still feeling relatively fresh, and was having a good time.
The next two miles got a bit lonely, but it was also nice to have some solitude in the woods. I think I like the latter better than a crowded trail. I was taking a few walk breaks, but things were still going well. We also got to my absolute favorite part of the course, which I remembered from last year.
Shortly before mile 9, we (and I mean me, as I had not seen anyone for the past two miles) merged back with the 10K on their final hill to the finish. The half marathoners ran through the finish to get a 9-ish mile split and then headed back out for another 4 mile loop. I knew we were going to do this, I saw people do it last year, but it’s still tough. I was ready to tackle those last four miles, though. Little did I know what was to come…
I headed back into the woods on the trail we had run on in the beginning. I’d seen the 10 and 11 mile markers during our first loop so I knew we would overlap a lot here. Fine by me. I was feeling pretty tired and it was very warm at this point (although not humid like Blue Ridge), but I was ready to do some work.
Shortly after I passed the mile 10 marker I was running down a short, steep hill. My left ankle rolled and I fell, hitting a tree with my right forearm and then landing mostly on my arm on some rocks. My ankle didn’t hurt, but something in the arch/heel area of my foot hurt. I brushed myself off, got back up, and tried to keep going. But my foot was hurting so much that I was limping and I was forced to slow to a walk.
I wasn’t too far from the finish area, and I considered going back. But I ended up deciding to push on. I thought that maybe the pain would go away (it never did) and I could run more. Unfortunately, I had to limp/walk/jog most of the final three miles. I think they took me about an hour and 5-10 minutes to cover. Boo.
It’s a bummer that my day ended that way, but at least things went well up until mile 10. This was the first major spill I’ve taken during a trail race, so I guess I’ve been lucky up to this point. Hopefully I’m getting it out of my system before Ragnar Trail Appalachians this June!
Who else has taken a spill during a race? At least no one was around to witness my moment of clumsiness!
P.S. My foot is feeling better now. It was pretty sore for a few days, along the inside bottom edge from the heel to the arch. My heel was a bit bruised for a couple of days, but it was never swollen.