What exactly does that mean? Well our local Fleet Feet store has a Dirt Cheap Stage Race with three stages: a 3 mile time trial, a 5.5 mile trail race and an "epic" 11 mile trail race. Stage 1 and 2 both took place on Saturday and today was Stage 3.
Mike and I registered for the race on Thursday and continued our streak of running, volunteering or spectating a race every weekend since we volunteered for the Rochester Marathon on September 23.
We opted not to do the early start at 7:45am because we run faster than 10:30 pace on roads. That meant we didn't start until 9am and we made our way to Mendon Ponds Park for the start.
Once we got there we had enough time to go to the bathroom, stretch and do a brief "warm-up" run to the start. Right before 9am there were some announcements, including the race director saying that it was a "hilly course".
Listening to the annoucements
We took off and headed down toward the beach where it was a little muddy from the rain that we got last night. I focused on not falling and Mike got ahead of me a little bit. Prior to the race we had decided that since we weren't really "racing", rather we were just using it as a training run, that we would run together.
Mike is in the yellow and I'm in the green in the middle
There I am in the green
That didn't really happen for the first mile and as we entered into the portion that I would like to call, "Jamie is a whiny brat", I started to have doubts about whether I wanted to finish the race or not. Mike was motioning for me to catch up to him but I had to walk up one of the hills, he waited for me and I told him to go ahead. I'm glad he was stubborn and stayed with me because he pushed me to finish the race (although I did say that I wanted to drop out from mile 1 to mile 4.5ish).
As we made our way through the trails, and HILLS, we ran when we could and we walked when we were forced to because of the extreme inclines. At one point this man who had passed us, yelled "turn around!" to these people who had missed the pink flags marking the course. All of a sudden a HUGE group of people came around the corner and we passed all of them because we went the right way.
Unfortunately, almost all of them passed us and we continued on toward the back of the pack. Around 4.5 miles, there was a water stop (which we didn't really use since we had our handhelds) and I took one of my energy gels. This man who had been running near us said to me, "I thought you were going to drop out?" (yes I was very vocal about my intentions) and I said, "eh, I wanted to". He replied, "good", which I'm taking to mean good that I wasn't dropping out.
There we are!
The middle of the race was GREAT, if only the entire course was the same! We even had a 10:20ish mile in there! We passed three people that we had been around, including the nice man who I called "white shirt", and we continued on our way.
Eventually we caught up to ANOTHER runner! We made our way across the road in the park and there was another water stop at about 7.5 miles. Mike and I filled our water bottles (I drank TWO full bottles) and then continued on.
The course started to get hilly again and there were signs pointing in different directions. It was a little disheartening to see runners going in the opposite directions than us and I even said to the woman that we had passed, "you could so easily go the other way". We didn't and made our way up the huge hill that awaited us.
At this point we had our slowest mile, around 18 minutes because there was a GIGANTIC hill. It was almost straight up! At this point we passed some more people but I wasn't sure if they were part of the race or just out for a "stroll".
At 9 miles or so, we went by the final water stop and Mike quickly filled his water bottle while I made my way down the stairs. Yes, stairs. There were some people out walking and they cheered us on. We winded our way through the trails and then eventually made our way back in the direction we had come, just to go down a different trail. If the trail hadn't been marked, I would have gotten lost for sure!
An example of how the course was marked
Mike and I made our way to the boat launch and passed an early starter. We were almost done! We quickly realized that our watches were off from the total distance of the course, but at that point we didn't care.
We made our way down the final trail and then, in true cruel race fashion, we ran up the final hill and through the finish line!
We finished in 2:16:43 and 2:16:44 (I was nice and let Mike finish ahead of me) and it was one of the toughest things I have ever done! I'm proud of us for finishing, but as Mike said, in hindsight we probably shouldn't have done this race. We have put our bodies through a lot recently and thankfully we don't have a race again until Thanksgiving!
But, we have now finished our first trail race and I'm ready for more!
Have you ever done a trail race?