Last year Solar, MT, Daisy and I decided to do this new fun race at North Chagrin. The Twilight Trail 8k is run on the bridle path and it is a special event in that they use a staggered start with the first runner to the line winning and they also have a team competition and as it is for charity you can buy your way into an earlier start slot. In general the start is ranked by age and sex, with the older female runners kicking it off and moving along to older gentleman, then young and master females, then the rest of the females, and so on to finish out with all the men. This system put most of my friends in the 9:00 starting wave. Solar and I didn't buy up a slot because we wanted to win fair and square ;)
Last year Solar and I (Two Trail Freaks) just missed first place with Daisy and MT (Team Pimp my Stride) taking those honors. This year MT was still recovering from Burning River so Daisy picked up another fast chick in CJ (now CV!). CJ isn't a trail lady but she is a speedster, but even with these two fast chicks in the race I was confident Solar and I could pull out a win and get some new shoes in the process! Solar wasn't so confident but I had faith in her. She has been crushing the runs lately.
We got in a small warm up but while everyone stood around the line waiting to go I jogged around and threw in some strides. My legs were feeling pretty trashed from Tuesdays 5k and my upper body was still a wreck from the upper body workout on Monday. So I wanted to make sure I was warmed up. TM was here but she had donated to charity and would be starting one minute ahead of me. I was a bit bummed about this because I would have liked to have used her as a gauge on my performance, but that's what I get for being cheap!
Last year Daisy made us crazy torn off white beaters to wear, this year Solar stepped it up a notch and we were in iron on decal shirts! Thankfully it wasn't quite so hot and humid as last year, but I still managed to get pretty sweaty in this thing! I definitely think more teams should unify in their clothes for this race, it adds another element of fun. On top of this fun staggered start this race throws an awesome after party with free beer, pizza, and cookies as well as a raffle drawing for all kinds of goodies. If you like trails, beer, and pizza this is the race for you!
With about a minute to go I lined up with the girls and we cheered on TM and DM as they made their way around the grass field that is the start. The course winds through a grass field before heading into the woods on the bridle path. Pretty much upon entrance you run over a creek and then it is a quarter mile stretch before you head straight up a long steep climb. Last year I walked this hill it is so steep and if it is humid it just zaps you. After that the course is a few rollers, one significant climb, and one twisty turny downhill before popping back out into the field and grass to the finish.
I went out hard, I wanted to push the first part of the course since I knew the hill would be slow. There was one girl on my shoulder that seemed to be pushing too as we forded the stream, I went straight through, the water was low and I really don't care if my feet are wet for 5 miles, and after the stream I was on my own passing people from the early waves. Got to the hill and I put it into a lower gear, trying to conserve energy but avoid walking. My goal was now to try and run the same time as TM and not come in more than a minute behind her. My legs felt absolutely trashed on the hill and I got passed by a young girl who had started in our wave. I let her go just trying to save my legs for the runnable sections of the course.
I passed DM and she said I looked great which made me feel better and as I crested the hill to a mile just under 8 minutes I was relatively pleased. I tried to do the math to see where that put me compared to last year. I ran 37:08ish last year and I was really hoping to go a few minutes faster this year. I slowly made my way back up to the young girl who had crushed the hill but caught her just as we started the only other decent climb so she re-passed me :) I knew she was mine though as despite my legs feeling somewhat tapped and trashed my pace felt strong and my energy was good. I passed her shortly after the top of the hill.
I passed BH here and I am not sure how he ended up starting in front of me, I guess he donated to move up a few starts. Team VR was out representing at this race for sure, everyone did great. By about mile three I had passed everyone but TM, and one of the last gals I passed told me I was close. As I couldn't see TM I wasn't sure what close meant but it was encouraging regardless.
I did my best to hammer the winding downhill by Squires Castle and as I exited the woods I finally spotted TM. I wasn't sure if she knew I was coming up on her or not, but she still had a good gap on me. I just wanted to close the gap as much as I could. I didn't really care too much about passing her since she had a head start and I was in the race as a team, but I was definitely using her as a target to run faster.
I was cruising through the woods telling myself if Jason Lezak could come back from starting behind and win I could certainly finish within 60 seconds of TM. (Anyone else using Olympic races as inspiration during their own races the past few weeks?) I passed a father and son out walking and as I passed the kid exclaims "WHOA!" which was certainly a nice ego boost. I used his exclamation to push myself harder as I neared the exit of the forest and heard a trumpet announcing that TM was making her way through the grass field. I received the same horn salute and I hammered the last few hundred meters finishing 11 seconds behind TM in 2nd place overall (Run time 34:21, fastest actual run for women). As I finished a guy with beer at the finish line announced that it wasn't over until you chugged a beer so I cracked one open and started chugging while waiting for my girls to come in.
I didn't have to wait long and had only gotten down about half the beer as I saw Solar and Daisy pushing to the line, Solar had a slight lead and Daisy looked good. Even though Solar was on my team I had to holler for both my gals, but was happy that Solar edged Daisy out (I need some shoes!) CV wasn't far behind and then came our inspiration in Salty running it in with GP to the announcer exclaiming how Salty was running for two and putting us all to shame!
Got in a very short cool down and took a photo with Solar. Yes that is mostly sweat, but I did dump two cups of water on my head.
Had a few more beers and chatted with my friends and my hubby while we waited for the awards.
Award time came and Solar and I crushed it winning first female team! We were only a few seconds slower than the fastest coed team so I would have to say we rocked it! We had a few more beers and chatted before calling it a night. Another great race in the log book, and another fun night with friends that will be remembered for a long time to come.