All week there had been on and off rain. The temperature was staying in the 80-90s and it was looking like there might be perfect running conditions for this race. I was praying for an overcast day with no rain on race day. Well I sure got my overcast day but lightening and torrential on and off downpours came with it. What was the trail going to be like? The race was supposed to start at 7AM but due to the weather the start time was delayed three hours. Not ideal but better safe than sorry, right? I checked in and then went back home to get dry and stay moving vs. sitting in my car for a few hours. Once I got back to the race site, went through the racers meeting and headed to the start line, I looked around and picked out a few people that I felt I could stay with or to make sure I stayed ahead of them. My goal was to be the first female finisher so I needed to check out who was racing. Competitive a little? Haha. I have done this since I was in high school running cross country. It has always helped get my mind in the right place. You could say it is me putting on my game face.
At 10AM the gun went off and off we went into the woods. I was feeling good and close to the front. I had a few guys around me and I felt very comfortable with the pace that was being kept. As we made our way through the trails I was filled with so much adrenalin. I love racing. This was a 2-loop race and I wasn’t familiar with the course. The first loop felt great. Along the way a few people around me broke off to finish their shorter distance race. Now it was just me and another guy. We keeping each other going. It was so awesome to have someone with me to push me a little. The first loop came and went rather quickly and back into the woods we went. This time my legs were beginning to feel the effects of the rocks, mudslides, creeks and roots that I had been running over and through. The guy I was running with began to break away, but I kept on going. A volunteer at one of the aid stations told me I was the first female and that small thing kept me moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, my body was feeling it. There were points were I wanted to stop. My goal stayed in focus. The trail was a bit more rough after everyone had run through it. The downhills and rocks were more slippery. I knew I needed to focus on the terrain more this second time through. All I could think was, “Keep on moving. You got this.”. I came out of the woods for the final time and I saw the finish line, to my disappointment there wasn’t anyone there cheering on the finishers. What?! I crossed the finish line and heard a distant “good job” from the lady who was keeping the time. That was it; I was done. I was a little bummed but then I realized I had reached my goal. I was the first female to cross the finish line and 5th overall in the race. That was a pretty good feeling.
As I reflect back on my entire experience, I am filled with so many thoughts and feelings. I’m proud of myself, yet focused on what I need and want to do next to be stronger & faster for the next race. To get across the finish line better. To go farther. My race prep has already changed. A solid strength plan, running more on trails or in the grass, working on mobility and ensuring that I am getting the proper recovery is going to be key. One of the biggest lessons that I learned was that by keeping my mind in the right place, I was able to keep moving forward. I was aware of what was happening in my body and listening to it but visualizing myself crossing that finish line. When I felt like I needed to walk up a more technical, rocky, root laden hill, I did. The last thing I wanted was to get hurt. I was also glad that I did not run with music. I listen to music during my training but knew that with trail running, more attention needs to be paid to the terrain and other racers moving around you. The trails can be narrow and people can come up on you very fast and want to get around you. If you are not careful you can get hurt. The sound of the woods, my breath, and the sound of your feet hitting the ground was music enough.
Time to focus on the next race in 3 weeks and then my 50k in November. Follow my journey to doubling the distance that I am racing on Facebook (Samantha Loveland Friedel),
www.linkendurance.com & Instagram @samanthafriedel . I will be running the Rough Creek Half
Marathon September 17th and the Big Cedar Endurance Trail Run 50k November 5th. Let the training commence 🙂
If you need help with your trail run, obstacle course, nutrition, or fitness goals, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org