You know you are running a small race when the only bathrooms are in the church (where the race tents are set up) and the pastor of the church comes over and tells you that runners can use the bathroom in his house next door. This poor pastor did not know what he was in for when he invited a bunch of runners into his bathroom. I am pretty sure we will not be asked back.
Have I told you how much I love small races? Even more than that I love small TRAIL races.
They are very chill. You stand at the start with 150 other half marathoners and they say “go.” No corrals, no gun shots, no loud speakers. There are burgers and beer at the end and no lines (except for the pastor’s bathroom). If you place in your age group (groups are 10 years, not 5) you get to pick from a bunch of stuff (hats, headlamps, socks).
I ran this race last year. It was an 11.5 mile half marathon then. Yesterday it was 12.56. We are getting closer to the actual distance, so next year should be 13.1 (hopefully not longer).
The course is an out and back that starts on a gigantic hill that goes up for a mile. You are pretty much ready to quit by then (see said hill behind me).
I am sticking out my chest to give the impression my boobs are larger than they are.
You then head down a single track through a beautiful canyon to a river and head up again for what seemed like a very long time. There are a few places on the route that are impossible to run (at least for me) because they are so steep. There was very little talking amongst runners and more just a lot of heavy breathing and grunting. I love a good challenge, and with 1,600 feet of climbing along with some mud and 8 water crossings, this fit the bill.
My strategy for the race was to push myself, but to also remain steady. If I felt my heart rate was getting too high I’d remind myself that I had a long way to go and I needed to conserve. I walked the really steep parts and tried to cruise the declines – I was careful about falling, though, because I had a pretty bad fall on the trail last week that kind of shook me up (almost slammed my head into a tree).
Last year I didn’t bring my own water. This year I did because there are no aid stations between mile 4.5 and mile 8.5. There is a lot of uphill in this section, so I was glad I had hydration. I forgot my own gels, so I took one from the aid statin at mile 4.5 (about 45 minutes in). It was a new-to-me gel:
I slammed that baby down without noting the “chia” on the package. The consistency was so f’n bizarre - kind of like tapioca. I gagged (although the taste was good, could not deal with texture) and might have spit some on my shirt.
I only eat hot dogs at baseball games and at the end of races (okay, and sometimes when I camp). Not sure why. Just don’t like wieners that much I suppose (TWSS).
I always consider it a a good race when my stomach behaves I do not almost crap my pants (you think I’m kidding, I’m not). Thank you pastor for helping me use a helpful preventive shitting strategy before my race.
At the end of the day (<<<ha!), I was 2nd/21 in the 40-49 age group. Time: 2:12.
My friend, Ed, also took 2nd in his AG:
I’ve said it before: so happy to grow old(er) with Ken and to share these adventure with him. 20 years of marriage in June, baby!
The moral of the story:
Do a trail race. Experiment with chia gu before you put it in your mouth. Thank your pastor. Find something you and your significant other love to do together. Run hills to get stronger. Eat a hot dog at least once per year. Challenge yourself. Stick your chest out if you have small breasts.
Ever do a trail race? Yes, I think this is my fifth.
Do you prefer small or large races? Small.
Strangest place you’ve ever pooped? Inside the hollow of a tree.
PS: Thanks to The Endurance Race Series for the entry! I’ll be back.