With a message like this how can you not show up to the start "A winter storm has moved in, but the race will go on. The Metropark staff will be out early with their snowmobile and cross-country ski trail groomer. You may still get snow in your shoes, but after all, it's only the second day of Spring." So I made the drive last night. It actually wasn't bad until I hit Toledo, then it was super slow going. Let's just say I probably could have run a road 50k in the the time it took me to get there.
I mainly made the decision to go forth with the race because I haven't really raced since December, and I haven't done a race that I actually invested more than a few days preparation into since JFK. Even if I ended up just walking the trails due to conditions I figured I needed to go through the mental prep for a race at least twice before Boston. (I'll give Mother Nature a second chance at the Meteor 10K in Dearborn in two weeks) Go through the nerves, the planning etc and see what happened.
This morning my dad kindly used the snow blower to clear their drive so we could get out to the race in Brighton.
It took about 20 extra minutes but thankfully I am spoiled and my dad drove so I didn't have to worry (too much) about getting there. We got there an hour before the race, thank goodness for 10 AM starts! Got my extremely large pair of gloves and waited until 9:25 to warm up. The roads at the park were clear and I got in a nice 25 minute warm up back and forth through the park. Threw in a few strides just in case it mattered. Everything felt good but I was pretty sure the whole race was going to feel like running through quick sand.
They had a snow mobile out with a trail groomer on the back. The snow was actually pretty fluffy so despite it being above the ankle it was runnable. There were areas that they definitely should have just let the snow be. Running through the fluffy untouched snow would have been less of a hassle than the slightly packed down/sloppy remains from the trail groomer. Good for XC skis, not so great for running. Thankfully they must have used a truck in parts and in those areas you could run on the truck tracks and it actually wasn't too bad. Other than the trail conditions it was a nice morning for a run. A bit brisk, but the sun was shining and people were in good spirits.
Waiting for the race to start. Man I still need to work on my posture!
They had to strongly encourage runners to move over to the actual start which was in the snow, not the nice safe parking lot behind them. I lined up towards the front next to a man in shorts. I think it was a bit cold for them, but to each their own! Surveying the crowd it looked like there were two or three women who could be pretty quick. One was a petite blond with a Nike headband and an i pod. The other I had seen warming up with a purpose was a younger girl, but given the sweatshirt apparel I figured she wasn't going to make a serious go of it today :) I kicked clean a little area to stand in and soon we were off.
Aerobically I felt good. The first section was over a field and they hadn't done any grooming. The snow didn't seem too bad though and other than not knowing what lay beneath your feet was relatively runnable. I quickly pulled to the front of the women's pack and just tried to give a good hard effort.
Soon we turned onto the groomed areas and it was apparent that below the snow was a layer of ice. Some fun slipping around through here before the snow seemed to thicken up. I tried to run in the truck tracks where available and just follow those in front of me. The uphills were definitely a challenge as you kind of had no grippage but still wanted to move forward! Practically I knew that at some point it would be quicker to walk but I just kept running and told myself this was a hard training run, so run it all!
Mile one eventually came in a little less than 9 minutes. I knew that it was definitely not going to be a record breaking day! I managed to hold that 9 minute pace through the second mile too before the petite Nike runner finally passed me. I knew she was with me as every time we passed volunteers they would cheer for her. I told her good job but had to repeat myself as she didn't hear me through the i pod at first. I don't know how she could run with music in those conditions! I felt like I really had to be focused to keep from turning an ankle and just keeping up a good honest effort. The trail started to get sloppy here and it was apparent I was just not as fluid through the slop a she was. She pulled a good 100 yards ahead of me and stayed there.
There was a water stop somewhere after 2 and I actually grabbed a glass since I was working up a sweat trying to get up these sloppy hills! About 11 minutes into the third mile I started really hoping that they did not put out a mile 3 marker. At this point it was pretty sloppy and it seemed that all of a sudden I was not around many other runners. Definitely surreal. Very beautiful out but man it was hard work! The sloppy areas were definitely tough on your ankles and calfs. I didn't want to hurt anything so I may have backed it off a bit here.
Thankfully the truck tracks picked back up a bit before mile 4 and I was able to actually run "quickly" again. I felt really strong in the areas where I could run and I was glad I made the decision to go out. It would have been really easy to give up in the slop and not pick it back up when it got nicer, so I was glad to know that I was strong enough to keep running strong despite the energy expenditure on the hills and slop.
Petite Nike gal kept me honest and I pushed pretty hard up through the end, tried to close the gap on her but unfortunately the last turn took us back into the now runner trodden fresh snow and there just wasn't any ground for me to make up. Still my last mile was the fastest of the day.
Total time was around 46 and she finished about 28 seconds ahead of me. 10 minutes slower than the past two years winners! Yikes! The course actually didn't seem like it would be that hard if it wasn't for the snow, but I am not confident what kind of surface we were actually running on, so I don't know what kind of time I could have had here in good conditions.
So I came away with a strong effort run, 2nd overall female, 1st age group, and a fun coaster as a prize (Have I mentioned I am a bit of a coaster addict, so this prize was awesome!) 1st place would have got me a sweet mizuno duffle bag, but honestly Monte probably would have peed in it (he has ruined three of my bags that were either bought or won at races) so I am happy with my coaster!
Stopped to chat with the winner and ended up cooling down with her and her friend. She seemed pretty nice. Older than I expected, she looked so young! Sounds like she is training for some kind of crazy race so this was actually a good training run for her.
My dad caught a few pics of me below. Man am I spoiled or what? 26 and my dad is still dragging my ass to races. Thanks dad! Love you!
Came home and tried out my parents new Migun massage bed. Could definitely tell my calfs were sore. Hopefully the massage and some icing will have them ready for my long run tomorrow. Lets just hope the metroparks have plowed the paths!
Glad to be done
Chatting with the first female. Note we both were wearing Nike headbands, those things must have good mojo!
In short, I'm glad I raced. It felt good to be out competing, and despite still not really having an idea of my fitness, I know I ran strong and that I am in good shape if I stay healthy for Boston!