The first amazing thing to happen was getting to the site on time. Not just on time, but early. I hung around with Stephe and Gale and chatted until it was time to start lining up. I checked my report from last year (Blogs can be so helpful!) and decided to wear my CEP sleeves since 2x I mentioned I wished I had worn them. What a great move that turned out to be! Normally I don’t wear my CEPs since I think they overheat. However, a trail at night does not get too warm so the extra support was awesome!
Waiting in the field I saw Kali from Finishing Firsts and was excited to meet her! I’ve been enjoying her blog since earlier this year. You may recall the Cleveland 10 miler incident? Where I thought I saw her and sprinted to read the girl’s bib? Ha. She’s as nice in person as she seems on her blog, which isn’t always the case. I’m super excited to be running the Akron Marathon Relay with her and a few other Cleveland bloggers!
I wore my New Balance Minimal shoes, with the new socks I bought to keep the heel from eating me alive. They’re becoming my go-to “racing flats” for trail events. Along the grass I loved having them, because my feet didn’t feel so heavy and I didn’t get discouraged right away. In fact I passed several people as we approached the trail entrance.
As quickly as I could I attempted to get into a rhythm knowing “the hill” was coming up shortly. When I made it to the stream crossing, Frank tapped m shoulder, said hello and floated across the rocks and water. This was perfect timing because I always get all weird and slow at streams, I’m afraid I’ll slip on a wet rock and twist something. Seeing him glide across gave me the confidence to stop worrying and just bound over. I did.
The hill I really wanted to run this year, but half way up I knew I was asking for trouble. I powered the rest of the way and went right back to running. My split for mile 1 was 10:37, with a spacious goal of 12 minute miles (to try and come in under 1 hour) so I was pleased and kept moving forward.
Around this time I briefly put my earbuds in and listened to music up to the water stop and then a little toward mile 2. I knew if I didn’t keep it up, people from my age group would soon be passing me. Mile two came in at 10:06. And in fact around this time Kali caught up to me, along with Shannon from the Grunt Girls. The three of us were running together for a moment, and I let my pride get the best of me. I didn’t want to be the “weak” one of the group so I run with them and not a comfortable pace ran, but had to concentrate on breathing, posture, everything around me to keep going forward type of running. Not too far into the mile Kali had to stop and Shannon pulled ahead of me on a hill. My mile 3 clocked in at 8:59!!
I heard Shannon say her goal was sub 50, so I knew if I stayed near her I would be able to get my sub 60, and really I wondered if sub 50 couldn’t happen for me too?
Mile 4 was a little easier for me, I allowed myself to slow my stroll a tad, put the music back on (I took it off when the girls were with me) and looked around at all the trees. When I made it to kamikaze hill I went as all out as I could. The whole way down I kept praying I wouldn’t wipe out and had to “yell” or I was afraid I’d faint. You know like on a roller coaster? If you don’t let it out it just feels overwhelming? That’s how this hill was when actually running down it!
Mile 4 ended after a trip around Squires Castle (the start of the Burning River 100 endurance race). Looking across the field when I emerged from the woods I saw Gale across from me. She was barely half a mile ahead! I wanted to catch her so badly! Mile 4 split. 9:29 (mostly thanks to that hill).
It took me a moment to realize I was in the final stretch! How did that happen? Since I only had about .8 left (in theory) and I knew the final stretch wasn’t hilly and I would be hitting grass I tried to kick it up a notch. The trail seemed to go on forever and my legs were getting fatigued slightly. I passed a few people, but never caught sight of Gale. To my annoyance mile 5 ticked off before I even entered the grassy field. 9:31
At the grassy field I could see Gale up ahead and pushed as best I could to get to her, but it didn’t happen. People I knew cheered for me as I sprinted it in and I threw my arms up with a “whoo”. Approaching the clock it said something about an hour and I had to remember the clock time was accurate for my corral, with a final kick I stopped on the other side of the mat and stopped Garmin.
Garmin time and official time were the same. 8K new record, heck 5 mile new record!
Afterward I chatted with a few more people and ate pizza and drank HEED. The sun went down and the sweaty clothes were making me freeze so I took off. Great race and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Cleveland area next August!