Tuesday, November 6, 2012

W.O.O.F. 16 mile trail race recap

I have to be honest, I was dreading this race with pretty much every bone in my body.  We all know how predictable my GI system can be and there aren't really any great bathroom stops along the way that I know of (they could have been there, but I didn't notice them).  On top of that, the weather was back and forth all week - it was originally forecast to be a high of 55 and beautiful, then they changed it to a high of 42 with rain/snow.

Luckily - it ended up being a high of the mid-40s, but DRY!  The sky was clear and beautiful, a nice crisp fall morning.  I woke up on time, but it NEVER fails - trying to get a whole family of people up and out the door always takes longer than it should.  Neither my husband nor my kid are morning people - its a battle every time.  Because of this, we were running 15 minutes late and I was frantically gathering coats and gloves for the kids.

Unfortunately in my madness I forgot my fuel belt - this meant I had no fuel and no water.  After having a mini-melt down I called my mom and she was able to "talk me off the edge."  We decided I would stop at the convenience store and get a bag of mints and use the water on the course and pray I would be okay.  By time I made it to Ouabache State Park I had mostly gathered myself.  While I still wasn't looking forward to 16 miles of trail running, I knew that no matter how ugly it would be that I could finish.

The time came and we lined up.  Both the 5.3 milers and the 16 milers all line up and start together so I lined up about 3/4 of the way back despite the "gun time" because I didn't want to get caught up in running too fast.  Much of the first lap was a blur.

For most of the first lap I was running in a pack of about 6-8 people and I felt like I was running strong.  I spent much of the time staring at the ground watching for roots, mud, and other hazards - luckily runners are pretty friendly people so they would shout out a warning and we would pass it back the line.   A little over 4 miles in I came upon the hay bales for the first time - up and over I went and then I kept on trucking.  One fun part of this race is that you get to run by the buffalo enclosure during the race - I was happy to see that they were close enough to see this year.  (Though, I still don't know how people can see the cute buffalo and then eat a bison burger after the race?!?) Around mile 5, I popped a mint into my mouth and put it in my cheek - hoping it would keep my body energized. The last little bit of trail before the end of the loop was a muddy/rutted mess and I nearly fell on my butt so I decided I would walk that short section each time.  By the end of the first loop I was tired and feeling like I might not make it. But, I finished that first loop in around 51 minutes (I forget the exact clock time) and I headed back into the woods for the second.

Less than a mile into the second loop I had a moment of panic when I realized I no longer had my (brand new) cell phone - I had lost in somewhere on the course.  I stopped dead in my tracks looking in a circle around my feet hoping that it was there - it wasn't.  A couple of nice ladies came upon me and asked if I was okay - I assured them I was but that I had lost my phone.  They told me to keep running my race, there was nothing I could do about it now.  Probably the best advice of the day - they assured me that someone would find it and all would be okay.   I was no longer in a pack,  but there were some people "near" me so I never felt alone.  I ran most of that second loop in a panic that I had lost my phone. I kept hoping that I would find it at the hay bales. Luckily, as I scaled the hay bales for the second time and shouted to my husband that my phone was lost a family standing near him told me they had found it and it was at the start/finish line.  WHEW - what a relief!

You can see how much time I lost being cautious with the hay bales
I had been such a tense mess that second lap, that once I got the news that my phone had been found I sort of crashed.  I took a walk break at mile 10 and gathered my thoughts.  After running for nearly two hours I was exhausted and wanted to quit.  Tommy and the kids weren't at the end of loop two because they hadn't returned back from the hay bales yet.  Luckily a really nice lady cheered for me as I headed back out for lap three, its what kept my legs moving - she told me "this is your victory lap."

Unfortunately, by now I had lost all company at this point, I was running completely by myself.  I was afraid I might run off course because it wasn't really marked per say other than following the areas that were walked down.  Luckily, I was able to keep focused and stay on course.  Things got rough though, after several close calls in lap two where I rolled my ankles I was starting to feel tired and my joints were "loose" and feeling weak.

Between the loneliness of the course and my fear of injuring tired muscles I started walking more.  I did happen across a couple other racers who were walking so I knew that at very least I wasn't going to be last.  I think I passed 2 people that last lap.  That last climb over the hay bales was a bit of a tease - I knew I was close, but it still felt like I had so far to go!  And quite possibly even harder was having to run past my car with less than half a mile to go - I wanted nothing more than to go climb in my van and warm up.   Instead, I pushed on knowing I was so close to being done.  As I was finishing up I had to dodge people walking back to their cars who had already finished.  Luckily, they were all very encouraging so that helped.

As I exited the trail I saw my hubby and kids - and the clock.  I wanted to finish in 1:45 and I saw it was still a possibility.  So, I put forth every ounce of energy I had left - and honestly at that point it wasn't a whole lot.   It wasn't pretty but I had just run 16.35 miles on trails - and I wasn't last (my only real goal).  I had hoped to come in at 10 minute miles or faster and I just missed that (10:02 pace) - without the cell phone snafu I am sure I would have made it.  Or, you know... without all the darn walking that last lap. :-/

Despite my poor performance the last lap I did manage to score second in my age group (we will ignore the fact that there were only two people in my age group).  Overall I was 40 out of 57 with a finishing time of 2:43:56.9.


  1. It sounds like another great race for you Jenn! Sorry that you lost your phone during the race but thank goodness it was quickly found.

  2. 16 mile trail run - looks rough to me. Awesome job getting it done.