Almost 2 years ago, I did a trail race and I swore to goodness that if I made it out alive then I would never do one again. Welllll, things may have changed. A trail race has been on my best running friend Brittney’s bucket list for awhile. When she mentioned a local one just one town away from mine then I couldn’t turn it down. I had a few volunteer coupons to use so the race ended up being free. You just can’t beat free. Plus the race was only four miles so that helped with the convincing.
The race was held at Maryville College which is actually where I attended school my freshman year. MC has a 140-acre “forest” right behind the campus and it has many different trail paths plus a ropes course. I spent my fair share of time in the woods during freshman orientation but I did know that the trails back there are relatively flat. I had absolutely no time goals for this race and I was excited to just get to run in the woods.
Luckily the race was held during the afternoon so it allowed for time to get to church that morning and gave Mother Nature a few extra hours to warm up. I started out wearing a short sleeve shirt but after Brittney and her husband got to the race they convinced me to wear long sleeves. That was a good choice. Thankfully TJ was there to keep the car warm and to snap a few photos of us brave “trail runners”.
Something I noticed different about this race was that there were a lot more “normal” people. At the last trail race I did it was almost strictly elite-type runners. Before we knew it, it was time to line up. The start line was a big line made by sidewalk chalk and I was thankful it wasn’t going to be a staggered start. The race directly simply said “Go” and we were off.
It began on asphalt and shortly thereafter we were in the woods. The trail for the most part is a single track so Brittney and I took turns leading. It was very congested at first and there wasn’t much room to go around people. There were a few spots that caused us some slow down with huge mud pits. Actually, I’m not sure if mud was the right word. It was basically 1.5 foot deep “soft” mudlike stuff but wasn’t really wet. Regardless, we did our best to work around it. I was glad when Brittney was in front because I could focus on her feet to make sure I did not trip or fall. Having to make sure you keep your eyes on the ground also kept my eyes away from my Garmin. We ended up passing quite a few people and I mentioned to Brittney after the race that we never really got passed at all. That might be a first.
The course came out to this huge field clearing that made a big circle around the perimeter. Brittney was running faster at this point so I let her take off. The field was my least favorite part because it was running through grass instead of trail and it was a little disheartening to see the big loop you had to make. Once we were back on the trails I was a happy camper. The course came out of the woods around the three mile mark and we ran by the practice football field and the real football field before cutting back in. The last half mile was probably my favorite because the trail got super narrow and you could hear the finish line. It made a weird loop into some asphalt and then back around to the same piece of asphalt before hitting the woods for one final time. I could hear everyone at the finish line so I picked up the pace and tried my best to finish strong. The finish was very short and abrupt but it was nice to be done. My little “do not remove” tag on my bib got accidentally torn off prior to the race so they had nothing to track me by at the finish and ended up just ripping my big right off of me. That was kind of a let down because I love collecting my race bibs.
We made our way back up to the pavilion to grab some snacks. I didn’t see any water in the snack area which I thought was odd since it was a race after all. However, I was thankful for the fire pit that I got to stand beside and warm up with. It is crazy how cold you feel after a race even if you are sweating like crazy. It was so nice to get to do another trail race that I actually enjoyed (shocking) and to catch up with our sweet friends. TJ was happy that this is the first race he has been to in our year and a half of dating that it has not been raining and/or below freezing. He loves supporting us no matter the weather.
The official time for me was 51:39 although my Garmin said 50:52. My splits were pretty consistent over the 4 miles which really surprised me even though it seemed like I was all over the place. They were: 12:52, 12:52, 12:40, 12:37. Not too bad to maintain a relatively even pace over four miles.
Congrats to Brittney for her first trail race ever! She is already planning another one that is even longer. It was a great day for a race of any kind but I’m glad I raced it and enjoyed it. It was definitely better than my last one!