Saturday I made a cake. The middle sunk, so I cut it out with a glass. What was left got a big thumbs up from the cake lover in the family.
Sunday I raced a half marathon – Dahlgren Heritage Trail Half in King George, VA. I kinda sunk in the middle of that, too.
But then I knew. I knew that running a half marathon when my longest run in the last 8 weeks was 8 miles was a bit of a stretch. In January I got this glute/ham injury that turned into a calf injury. I could feel my leg twisting when I ran and was pretty sure my hip had rotated, something that has happened before. I rested for a week. It wasn’t enough. I got some acupuncture and saw my chiropractor. The pain lessened and I could run again, but of course had to start with low mileage, so going into the race I really didn’t have the fitness for a fast half.
I decided to go ahead and run the race because I find it hard to turn down a trail race. Also, I was running it with RunWiki, and, well, I’ll admit, there was prize money. (I did win some cash, just not as much as I’d originally hoped.) But since you can’t have your cake and eat it, I had to be content with running the race but not racing the race. I still gave it my all, it’s just that all wasn’t enough.
It turned out to be a beautiful day and I really enjoyed the trail. Had I been on the road I think I would have felt very different, downright miserable, probably. For some absurd reason the Guns ‘n’ Roses song “Paradise City” stuck with me the entire race. What a treat.
I ran with RunWiki and another girl for about the first 5 miles. I could tell that I was working harder than the two of them and doubted my ability to stick with them but ran with them so they could “carry” me a little. I knew that once I fell from our little pack I wouldn’t be able to sustain that pace. (Since we started in the elite category, 2 minutes ahead of the age groupers, there wasn’t another group for me to run with.)
At the turnaround at exactly halfway I told RunWiki to “go for it” since she was still with the other girl while I had fallen back. About a mile later I realized I was getting closer to RunWiki and the other girl. My Garmin had lost satellite and was either telling me I was running a 5 minute mile (impossible) or an 11 minute mile (I hoped that wasn’t true) so I couldn’t tell if I had sped up or they had slowed, but the fact that I was closing the gap gave me the incentive I needed to pick up the pace. As I got closer I realized they were chatting! But as soon as I reconnected with them I guess the other girl realized she had slowed and suddenly picked up the pace. I told RunWiki there was no way I was catching her, and told her to go after her. She said, “but she’s nice.” “It’s a RACE,” I growled. This girl obviously had a couple more gears because, while RunWiki tailed her ferociously, she kept just enough distance between them. Meanwhile, I kept plugging away, listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses, ignoring my Garmin which had obviously given up looking for satellites, and trying to keep RunWiki in my sights. I could see her all the way until the end and we finished 30 seconds apart, RunWiki 4th, me 5th. (Note that there were only 5 women in the elite category so I could have slowed to a walk and still come in 5th, since you had to start in this category to place in it. Of course I didn’t slow and pushed hard all the way to the end, but it was an odd position to be in…)
If you like flat courses and don’t mind a few rocks and pine cones, peace and quiet, and low entry fees ($35!), this is a great race for you. The course is an out-and-back along the picturesque Dahlgren Heritage Trail, a former railroad. The elite race is separate from the age group race and starts 2 minutes ahead, so you can choose whether you want to race for cash or awards. It also prevents a mass stampede at the start. The funny thing was that the guy who won started in the age group division, 2 minutes down, and went and passed every single runner who’d started ahead of him.
Here’s a fab picture of the start, taken by RunWiki:
And some other random pics: