Saturday, November 26, 2016

Black Toenail Friday 7.5-miler race report

I hate shopping and I especially hate Black Friday shopping, so when I saw there was a new Black Friday trail race I jumped at the chance. Plus, it didn't start until 11 a.m., so I could sleep in. Plus plus, it had hilarious sweatshirts and medals that any real runner could appreciate:
Don't pretend you wouldn't do a race just for this awesome swag.
We found out a few days ago that the race had actually sold out, even in its first year, so I was glad I had signed up early. This was the first full trail race for both my husband and I, not counting the races we've done in the past that have had a small stretch of running on trail. I had reached out to the directors beforehand to ensure it wouldn't be too technical, and they assured us if we had done some basic trail running recently, we would be fine. We had done one technical 5.5-miler a few weeks ago and lived to tell the tale, so we felt prepared enough.

Although my family went out to dinner for Thanksgiving, we used our place as home base. So, I still had to clean, and later I made some special desserts for me after everyone went home. As a result I got to bed way too late the night before, as usual. The alarm went off at 7:15 a.m. Friday, inconceivably late for a race day, but that was still plenty of time to make a carb-heavy breakfast, take the mutts outside, and head out. We found the park without any problems and had plenty of time to pick up our numbers and use the restroom before the race meeting at 10:50 a.m.

It was a small race, a couple hundred people max doing both the 7.5-miler and the half marathon, so they counted us down and sent us off with a siren. We hung back and started at the rear of the pack and settled into a slow pace to accommodate the mud, rocks, slick leaves, and slippery bridges. It was a chilly day but not too cold, and although it was cloudy the rain was holding off. It was a great day for running!

The park was gorgeous and the trails were never unrunnable. There was only one hill so large we had to hike up, and the mud was never so bad we couldn't just hop around it. I tripped over a few roots but I was able to remain upright throughout. Since we weren't in this for the time (and since it was the first of the distance for us and a guaranteed PR, haha), I stopped to take a few pictures:
I'm a sucker for a pretty water crossing.
Crooked and slick, yet pretty bridge. 
Cool air and still water.
It was awfully brown and gray, but still pretty (I think).
Another bridge through the marsh.
The half-marathoners did two laps of the course, and toward the end of our race we started getting lapped by the fast runners. We called out a couple of "Woo!"s and encouragement to the leaders. We were definitely feeling the trails by mile 6 or so, but we never felt like we couldn't finish. Up one hill and the finish line was right there already! We crossed the finish line with big smiles on our faces and headed over for bananas and hot tea and cocoa. That was a nice touch.

There were some slight adjustments made to the course to avoid super slippery spots, so it ended up being closer to 7.6 miles. I forgot to turn off my Garmin at the end of the race so I had to guesstimate time and pace based on the info I had. It ended up begin about a 13:30 minute per mile pace, which is almost exactly the same pace as our more technical but shorter run a few weeks ago, and landed us both dead last in our age groups. But considering that we were there to have fun, and that we stopped to take pictures, and that we aren't trail runners, we didn't even care.

TL, DR: This is a great race! Pretty course, not too challenging for a trail race, fun swag, and WAY more fun than waiting in line at zero dark thirty for a a few bucks off a crappy TV. If it comes back next year I'm signing up for sure.