Harmon Farms 10 Mile Trail Race…was I last? Was I lost? I know you’re wondering.

You’ve been holding your breaths waiting for this race report right? Let the breath out. Holding your breath that long causes brain damage. You’ll be unable to read my blog if you have brain damage. Common sense people, common sense.

Obviously I didn’t get lost. I’m here, writing this. Good news, yes? If you said no, please hit the little red x in the upper right corner of your screen because you’re not friendly.

Sunday, September 15, 2013
My alarm beeped at me at 5:30a.m. This is too early but I rolled out of bed anyways and stumbled downstairs to get something to eat. I had a stomach ache right off the bat. Nerves. I took a spoon and dunked it into the Skippy peanut butter and proceeded to lick it clean. Yum. Then I grabbed a handful of animal crackers and set them delicately in front of me. I looked down at my tank top. Blue. Perfect. I grabbed the animal crackers and shoved them all in my mouth at once being careful to spill some crumbs as I chomped them loudly and fiercely. If you’re questioning why I did this, you obviously didn’t watch enough Sesame Street as a child.

I jumped in the shower. I frequently shower before a race. It wakes me up. Don’t judge. Then I pooped. Twice. The tummy ache subsided a bit. Good! I was still nervous. It was sprinkling out. It was chilly. I didn’t want to go. Maybe I should back out. I got my race clothes on and woke my husband and we headed out to the trail race that I was sure I was going to be last at.

We arrived at Harmon Farms/Salem Hills at about 7:25 a.m. The 10 mile was due to start at 8am. Plenty of time to grab the shirt and bib, use the porta potty and wander around staring at the other runners. A friend from facebook who I’d never met in real life was there- Kate T. It was nice to meet her and shoot the breeze for a bit. It was also calming on my frazzled nerves. She’s a wickedly fast runner. She was doing the 5 mile race. She ended up being the female winner of that race. Yes, Kate is blazing fast.

I snapped a picture of the race map while I was waiting for the start.

Race Map. 5 mile is one loop, 10 milers do two loops

Race Map. 5 mile is one loop, 10 milers do two loops

I’m pretty sure I stared at this map for quite awhile…even though I didn’t really know what I was looking at. I also stared at other people in their running gear examining them for clues to I don’t know what. Sorry about that.

Soon enough it was time for the 10 milers to line up. I lined up 3/4 of the way back. Not quite at the back, but far enough back that I wouldn’t slow anyone down. My tummy hurt again. Let’s start already.

And we were off! In the beginning of races, I shoot out like someone just pinched my ass. This is normal and I calm down after a minute and get into some sort of a groove. At this race, I was careful not to do that as I knew we would hit single track trails after approximately 3/4 of a mile and have to go single file. I didn’t want to be in peoples way due to a false start. I attempted to gauge the people around me and run based on that. Then I threw that out the window and just ran based on how I felt after about 200 meters or so as the people near me were entirely erratic.

Starting on pavement, moving to grass...approx .75 miles until a single track trail/woods started

Starting on pavement, moving to grass…approx .75 miles until a single track trail/woods started

I passed a few people in this somewhat open stretch but wasn’t too concerned as it wasn’t many. I could hear very deep breathing — obviously male– directly behind me the entire time. I decided I would stay ahead of that and keep running at this pace as it was comfortable. I had no idea what speed I was going and decided also to not look at my watch.

I saw the trail come up before we entered it. Definitely single-file. The deep breathing was still directly behind me. Perhaps a few feet or less. I was a bit concerned that he would need to pass and according to the trail we were entering, there was no passing coming up. I would need to run. Bring it on. I ran. The footing was poor. There was sucking mud from the night before pretty much everywhere and slick spots hidden in the rocks. The few wooden bridges were extremely slick and the climbs were difficult. The roots and rocks seemed to jump out attempting to twist my ankles or make me fall and I had to grab tree branches a few times on the switch backs in order to stay uprights but I kept running to stay ahead of that breathing. My watch kept vibrating off the miles in a satisfying way but I didn’t look to see the pace. A little over 3 buzzes in (3 miles) I bumped into some runners and had to slow down until I could find a spot to pass. Wait? I passed some people? Huh. Soon after 4 vibrations there were 3 more runners- this area was a somewhat open grassy area full of hills that had a mountain bike path cutting through it. I was able to pass somewhat easily here. I paused somewhere in the middle of mile 4 for a minute to check on a runner sitting next to a tree with his shoe off nursing his foot/ankle. He stated he could make it to the aid station coming up ahead if he gave it a minute. That he had fallen the jump a bit back and twisted his ankle.
I kept running, making a note not to be that guy. Don’t fall. Don’t twist my ankle. It became my mantra the rest of the race- nice right? Sorry for using you guy.  The aid station came up quickly after a run across a slick bridge and another whip through a section of woods and bang– there was husband with his camera as we entered where we had begun.

And there it is!  Waterstop

And there it is!  Aidstation!

Nearing the aid station

Heading back for Loop #2

After this waterstop/aidstation the 10 milers head straight and go for Loop #2. And so I did. Knowing this time exactly what was coming up. I had lost the deep breather at some point. I’m not sure when. I just kept running. I smiled. I’m not sure what made me start smiling, but I smiled a lot during this second loop. I think I was having fun. I started hopping the puddles and whenever I stumbled I let out a kinda airless giggle followed by a “don’t be that guy, don’t twist your ankle”

The miles ticked by. There are some mean hills that go up, up, up and the trail turns and they keep going up. I ran. I didn’t stop running. I knew that what goes up must come down and I love down. I fly down. It made me fly up. In my head I was sure I was probably moving at about an 11 minute pace or so. I didn’t care (and it turns out I was very wrong!). I was having fun. I was even still bumping into and passing a few runners here and there.

Buzz number 8. I stumbled, tripped, kicked my OWN self, and the ankle twisted. Out loud “YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THAT GUY”  Obviously it wasn’t that bad. I kept running. I could feel something in my ankle. Not that bad though so I kept running. I was getting tired. Hill, hill, damn hill. WTF HILL. Uh oh. Negative thoughts. Just keep running. Buzz 9. “1 mile trail race” I ran. I saw the spot where the “that guy” was on the last loop and I knew I had to be almost done.

THOUGHT this was near the finish...and it sorta was

THOUGHT this was near the finish…and it sorta was

I came out of the woods at the aid station and thought YES I’m DONE! I ran faster. I tried to catch the people in front of me. But wait. I wasn’t done. GAWD I gave it the gas and I still had a ways to go. The race sent us on a white line…up hill…back into the woods, around a turn, back up hill, bumped back out onto the grass, back onto the pavement and THEN DONE.   Yeah, I gassed too soon. My bad. I really should have looked at that map harder?

Heading to the finish

Heading to the finish

AND DONE!! As you can see, I did NOT catch the girl in front of me.

AND DONE!! As you can see, I did NOT catch the girl in front of me.

In the end, I was NOT last at this race. I had a blast. I ran a 1:23:21 with my garmin showing 9.96 miles. I’ll take it. I didn’t have to poop in the woods. The kicker? I won my age group. No really. Go ahead and read it again– I WON MY AGE GROUP (and no, I’m not 70 thanks!) I finished with an 8:21 pace, something I haven’t put out in a distance race in quite some time.

Until next time, this post has been brought to you by the broken button on my alarm clock.


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