Thursday night was the Twilight Trail 8K. I left my house a little later than I would have liked and then hit a sea of traffic. Luckily it was massively better organized this year than last, and I picked up my race bib and swag quickly and easily. After having Gale put it in her car (I had to park across the street) we chatted it up with Kelli and prepared ourselves for what would happen. Funds from this race help benefit the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Since the park only allows so many people on the trails at a time we have a staggered start. With a $ 5.00 donation you can “jump up” a slot. Slots are based on age and gender, essentially starting those who will smoke the course at the end. Timing was adjusted so it started with the last group, their clock time really was their time. The rest of us had a “head start” so if you were in wave 8 and finished in 52 clock minutes…your time was really 60 mins. Not too many people realized this and were crushed when they learned their times weren’t as great as they thought. Last year it was reversed and you subtracted the time, that was a MUCH better confidence booster!
I was in wave 8, the staggered group as they called it. We had an 8 min head start. Groups 16, 14, 12 and 10 were ahead of us maybe 20 some people total. The timer went and I took off with my clock and my Garmin beeping along with me. The fist part of the course is a few minutes of running across a field in switchback formation. For the life of me I could NOT break free from these girls who kept talking about weddings. OH but it wasn’t their upcoming weddings, or even weddings they would be in, no, it sounded like it was their dream weddings. Now there comes a time in every girl’s life, where it is no longer cute to giggle about your dream wedding, loudly, in public, no where near anything wedding related! It comes off sounding….desperate, perhaps a tag sad? Eh who am to judge. Watch me be these girls and eat my words in another 5-10 years. All I could think was, who are these girls in make up and curls running on trails?
After the grass we enter the trail and for about a half mile it’s just your general dirt and rocks and a small stream. THEN there is a MASSIVE hill. I wanted to kill the hill this year, but took it easy. I don’t think anyone I was with ran the whole thing anyway. This is probably the only major issue the whole course. After this it’s more general trail and small rolling hills. The hardest part of the course is the humidity and keeping your temperature under control. Without meaning to I ended up pacing by this woman for about 2 miles. I felt bad about it, but also couldn’t speed up or slow down! Nearing mile 3 my feet were totally numb. Not to worry, I knew this was a matter of tight calves and hills. I should have worn my compression sleeves! I walked for a moment and tried to get some blood flowing. It worked and off I went again. Coming down the hill (remember the one from the beginning…we have to get back down somehow!) I was impressed with my confidence and just flew down it, jumping and lifting my feet and landing where I could. A woman behind me got close and she said I didn’t need to move, and then she said she’d been behind me and I’m amazing. Me? Amazing? Gee thanks! It made me wanna finish strong. We went up and around Squires Castle, which is one of my favorite parts of this course. I always think of the Burning River 100 milers and how this is where they begin the journey.
Down and around for mile 4 marker and we’re on the home stretch. WHY I thought 4 miles of what would be at least 4.9 was the home stretch I could NOT tell you. But I wanted to PR so kicked it up a tad. Deep breathing and positive thinking!
Along the last stretch of trail I passed Elizabeth who cheered for me and I felt honored and I also passed Stephe who cheered for me. Entering the grassy area Stacey called to me by name and I was feeling like a local celebrity. I walked for a minute when I hit the grass, I suddenly felt sick! Maybe I walked for like 15 seconds. Out of NO WHERE I let out this huge burp. They probably heard me in the woods. I laughed and said “oops, excuse me” and I took off again across the grass. I do not like finishing on switchbacks, but eh it happens. I glanced at my watch and I had less than 5 mins to do what took me 4 the first time. UH-OH and I was 4+ miles tired at this point. I kept it steady, smiling and going as best as I could. At the very end I SWEAR I heard people yelling for me and saying “Let’s go Julie! Kick it in”. Well I was probably crazy but I kicked it in anyway, pushing as fast and as hard as I could! Praying I would not puke. I crossed the line as Garmin chirped for 5 miles and I hit “stop”. One hour flat. A PR by one lousy minute! (edit…Garmin says hour 52, race results say hour 49) Grrr However last year I spent the rest of the night being sick and this year I felt great. So who is so say it isn’t more of an accomplishment to finish strong? I can’t believe I can run a trail race the same speed I run some road races! Go me! Also, I was only 1 minute and 49 seconds behind Gale…she better watch out!
Gale and Ray met up with me. She asked me if I knew anyone there…no one she didn’t know. And she said she asked because people were cheering for my by name at the finish line. WOW I wasn’t crazy? And I thought to myself, perhaps they read ROJ! Huh, and perhaps having people cheer for you, making you feel good and welcomed and a part of the community, perhaps that is a better reward than any free pair of shoes to review. Thanks all for supporting me and thinking/knowing I can do it!
Race Info and Elevation Chart
Pics aren’t posted yet, but if I’m any I will gladly share later. Here are some images from OC training. Myself at the top of the switchback (mile 8-9) and the view from the top.
Don’t forget, tomorrow is the Perfect 10 miler. Check out the page for live coverage. I’m not sure if it’s numeric only for results or if there will be streaming video. I’m # 105 . Race starts at 7:30 and I’m pacing for around 2 hours. Hopefully a little less, but we shall see.