|After picking up my race packet race day morning!|
|Corina captures me mid-bite of bagel, hanging out with 1 1/2 hours to my race start. |
With marathoner friends Greg S. and Michelle B.
|Mark O. gets a pic at the start line with Michelle and Erik K.|
|Greg T. volunteered as he's nursing a sore Achilles before the Boston Marathon next month, and Stacy M., a newer friend from Twitter and Dailymile!|
|Fast marathoner friends Nick and Shaheen. Nick's recently been bitten by the trail running bug and is signed up to run the Jemez 50-miler!|
|New friends G and Dawn|
Early on, you could tell the crowd was different. We hit a gate only a 1/2 mile or so into the race and everyone quietly and patiently waited single file to pass through this tight bottleneck. Same with a creek ravine shortly after. A few roadrunners freaked at each point, but everyone else's casualness was calming and relaxed the situation.
Around mile 4 was when I had my "this is really real" moment. A small group of us were passed by the lead marathoner who had to do our blue loop after they'd done a white loop in another section, and we blindly followed. We came upon a few who were deciding that we'd gone the wrong way. We went with group majority decision, you don't leave the group, and backtracked as I told about a fork I'd seen before a pile of deadwood that could be the correct path. We found it, got back on course, and were only off course for a tenth of a mile or so. Within another 1/2 mile, I saw a man ahead of me take a tumble, turn it into a somersault, and go down. Luckily he was okay, but now I was a little freaked out with those back-to-back trail reality moments.
I hung out at the aid stations around miles 3.8 and 10 for 7 minutes total between them. Again, what a different atmosphere in this casualness. I took advantage of that, emptying sand out of each shoe at the mile 10 station, grabbing pretzels at the first station, and getting a mini-Snickers and orange slice at the second.
At about mile 6.8, I realized that with keeping my eyes on the ground, I'd forgotten to take any sort of energy gel - oops. No wonder I was starting to fade a little. I took a GU, and later I would decide to take another at mile 11. I had to walk each GU because I could not handle squeezing GU, drinking water, AND watching my footing!
The last couple miles I was passing lots and lots of walkers. The mile splits below will look odd with the aid station stops included and my slow walk breaks for taking my GUs, but this is where I was thankful I had maintained pretty even splits through the entire race. I felt like I looked strong coming into the finish.
In the end, a 3:08 finish time for 13.41 miles. Now hold on a second. I did a 3:01 at Austin Half Marathon 4 weeks ago, and now I had gone 0.3 mi longer with 7 minutes (checked my GPS download) of "break" at aid stations in sandy, hot TRAIL conditions and was only TOTAL 7 minutes slower?!? I know, I don't get it either. But I felt like I had a great race day and felt strong. And with my next trail race, Hells Hills 25K, in 2 weeks, when I finished Grasslands I asked myself if I could have just done a slow 2.1 miles further on this course to a 25K, and my body said "Yes". So as long as the terrain isn't too much harder, I'm not going to freak out about the next race.
By the way, before the race started, new friend Tracy said, "I hear you haven't really done trail until you bleed." Well, some thorny bushes got me in the calf, those are the blood streaks on my right leg. And my legs aren't normally splotchy like that - it's all the sand that basically caused us to all have sand-blasted legs as it got kicked up the whole time.
At home, since I felt like I'd used all sorts of muscles with uneven terrain and high knee lifts avoiding falls, I did an ice bath. Here's me for 10 minutes with 40 pounds of ice and some extra cold water.
Next week is Dallas Rock N Roll Half Marathon on March 27. I have 19 weeks until my first marathon, the San Francisco Marathon on July 31st!
Split paces in min/mi (note I hit the Lap button at one odd spot so that explains some disjointness):
Mile 0.0 - 1.0: 12:40
Mile 1.0 - 2.0: 12:56
Mile 2.0 - 3.0: 13:50
Mile 3.0 - 4.0: 14:13 (stop at Aid Station 1)
Mile 4.0 - 5.0: 13:23
Mile 5.0 - 6.0: 13:21
Mile 6.0 - 7.0: 13:59 (took GU towards end of this mile, so was walking more than usual)
Mile 7.0 - 8.0: 12:53 (got faster! Must have been the GU at the start of this mile, LOL!)
Mile 8.0 - 9.0: 13:43
Mile 9.0 - 10.0: 15:50
Mile 10.0 - 10.5: 19:40 (stop at Aid Station 2)
Mile 10.5 - 11.5: 14:51 (took a GU in here and walked through taking it)
Mile 11.5 - 12.5: 14:32
Mile 12.5 - 13.41: 13:26