The alarm went off on time at 6:37 am, which of course was way too early for me on Saturday. I rolled outta bed and grabbed my gear and was out the door with my bowl of oatmeal on the way to Dunkin' Donuts by 7:20 a.m. I was a few minutes behind so I text messaged JE I was about 5 minutes back so she wouldn't leave without me. It turned out I wasn't the last one anyway. A few others in our party were also behind.
We got to the race by 8:15 or so and grabbed our bibs and headed back to the car due to the windy conditions. JE and I were ready to race by 8:40 when we both realized nature was calling. We looked for some porta-johns, but no luck. Rumor had it they had been ordered for the race....just not delivered. We hurried to the Burger King up the street and did our business and hurried back just in time.
The start of the race was to run across an icy parking lot and then hit the trails. I jokingly asked BL for a piggy back ride to the trails and he graciously offered. The race director yelled "READY, SET, GO!!!" and I had to resort to using my own 2 legs.
Started off a little fast, but knew it and opted to go without my headphones so I could keep my breathing in check. I felt good and had my sweetass new gortex waterproof shoes on. I lost site of JE and BL right away and I knew AS and TZ were somewhere behind me. I got passed for the first 5 minutes a lot more than I passed, bu they were men and it was a training/fun run.
There are no mile markers posted, only ribbons and arrows to indicate direction so it is imperative that you pay attention. I of course just follow the runner in front of me, who in turn follows the runner in front of him and so forth until you got about 10 people ahead of me. Now, this guy was apparently following the beat of his own drum, not the runner in front, because suddenly someone yelled.... "turn around, we went the wrong way!" Crap! I did a U-turn and started once again following people back. I had no choice the trail wasn't really a trail at that point, just a single track path weaving through the trees. I think I lost about a minute, so not really a big loss and ... it was a fun run. I got back to the trail and saw AS, so I knew we were literally back on track.
Now here is where I think I had the easiest running as it was single track and I got stuck behind people that were slower. I didn't want to go around them because 1) it was too much wasted energy 2) I didn't want to cut the course and cheat 3) I didn't want to take the chance of getting lost 4) it was a ... fun run, so I plodded along thinking my legs felt good, my breathing was in check and my form seemed relaxed. Shortly thereafter we came out onto a dirt path that was much wider and I managed to pass a few people. I remember catching two girls, but one who had her hair down was just not having that. She picked up the pace to match mine and pulled a little bit in front and took the lead for the next 1/2 mile or so. I stayed right with her feeling nice and easy. She finally started to slow and I told her the aid station would be coming up shortly and not to give up. She thanked me, but faded a little. I trudged ahead to the main road that I would be running along and when I say running along I mean NOT ON IT. It specifically states in the rules running on the road is an automatic DQ! This was definately the toughest part of the course as there was no real path and the terrain was bumpy and overgrown with little rolling hills and small water hazards to jump. I was still comfortable, but not quite as comfortable if you know what I mean. I had run it last year and though the conditions were still tough, they were nowhere near the over the ankle loose snow like last year.
I plowed ahead and came upon a young man walking. I reached out and patted him on the back telling him not to give up and to my surprise he began running. He ran right off me through the toughest part of the course. I told him we were coming up on some water and I could sense his relief. He asked if he knew how far along we were and I told him about 1/2 way. We made it through the overgrown mess and made the turn to go downhill to the aid station. I asked the guy at the station if the water was frozen. He said "nope." Sweet, I began to smile when..... uugghh, oh crap, I hit some ice and started to slide into the aid table. Thankfully, I caught myself and didn't crash into the aid station. What a mess that would have been. I grabbed some water with the young man and said "c'mon stay with me." He tossed his cup and followed.
Our next challenge was to run across a big field which turned out to be pretty smooth with the exception of a little slipping here and there and some water hazards. As we hit the woods to re-enter for the return trip we again caught a few people. I was feeling good too. We trudged along and picked up another guy. He was nice and we chatted about upcoming marathons and this course. Both of the guys I was with were newbies and wondering how much farther. I told them I hadn't checked my watch, but there couldn't be more than 2 miles left. We ran down another girl in the meantime, bully for me :) Finally we hit some rolling hills, which were thankfully not too icy. We came made a turn and came into a clearing. I recognized the path we had originally run on and told them we were really close, no more than a half mile. I explained that we would be coming up on the cemetery and it was 200 yards or so to the finish so that would be a good time to run hard if they wanted to kick.
Now, I don't know if I picked it up or my crew faded, but by the time I hit the cemetery I could only hear footsteps behind me. There was no one running with me. I didn't want to look in case it was someone coming hard or that girl had hung in there, so I just pumped my arms and kept my stride frequency up. I saw a guy ahead of me and I focused on him. I didn't run him down, just kept up a good pace and right at the very end I got him. He gave no kick. I would not have tried if he had sprinted.... it was a fun run. I crossed the finish in 56:30. It was a 13:30 improvement over my time from last year. I saw JE and BL eating cookies and hanging out. I told them congrats and headed back out to get AS and TZ. I found AS about 5 minutes later and turned around to run back in with her. I then turned around and bee-lined back out to find TZ, but after running for an additional 30 minutes after my own race I had no such luck and there were no more runners coming in. I was almost a mile from the finish when I turned back thinking something must have happened. I got back to the finish to find everyone packed up, even TZ. She had been forced to DNF with an injury, and I mean forced. She should have probably stopped at least a mile beforehand, but TZ is a hardcore tuffy as I learned.
We loaded up and caravaned to Mary Yoder's amish restaurant for some really, really good food. I ordered a cheeseburger and french fries and yep, I ate it all. As we left I saw a stop sign that said "WHOA", what a hoot. We really were in amish country, haha. I couldn't wait for a hot shower and a power nap, but aaaaahhhhh, once again what fun. Welcome to the 2008 RACING SEASON!!!!!