Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Belated Report: RLAG

Run Like a Girl 8k Trail Race: 5/4/08

This is a series of races sponsored by Montrail (and benefiting the HERA foundation) with events held in various cities across the country – it was the first year for the Richmond race. I wanted to do it because let’s face it – that’s a fun name for a race. Also, a couple years ago Doug and I set out on a quest to get me a run like a girl shirt, which led to a hat (Jenn has one too) and really small t-shirt, and eventually this race!

My goals were:
1. Have fun
2. Finish
3. PR (current PR was 51:05, from a road race on Thanksgiving Day 2007)

Lately I haven’t been running trails, really. I’ve been running a “trail” near the new apartment, but it is very nicely groomed and mostly gravel. The only challenging thing about it is the hills, which have seriously slowed my daily run pace leaving me with no idea of how fast I can actually run. I had no idea what the race course would be like, so my primary aim was just to enjoy myself.

We drove up to the Richmond area Saturday afternoon to camp that night, and told Kona it was her birthday trip (she turned 2 on 5/5). I had planned to pick up my packet at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports on the way in that afternoon…but never looked up directions of how to get there. I had the address and phone number, and while we could have called the shop, we decided to just try and figure it out instead. Well…we got sort of lost. Not terribly lost, though, and did eventually find the shop – and a Chipotle for dinner! After dinner we successfully found our way to the park, checked in, and set up our campsite. Then we took a little walk around the campground and marveled over the NASCAR compounds set up throughout – all the fancy RVs and satellite dishes and banners, it was nuts. A lot of the campsites were empty, so we figured people were actually at the race. After we ran out of daylight and got in the tent, Doug and Kona fell right asleep, and I laid awake and listened to them both snore. For hours. Around 11:30 is started to rain and I stressed over that since our rain fly doesn’t cover the whole tent...and then it stopped…and then started again a little after 12 so I stressed some more. Then, shortly after 2 AM, the people at the neighboring campsite got “home” from the race. And they were drunk. And loud. And they continued being drunk and loud until 4 AM. Once they finally quieted down I was finally able to sleep, so I wound up with about 3 hours of sleep that night.

Sunday morning I got up and went through my pre-race rituals while Doug ran back into town to get batteries for the camera. While he was gone I packed up the campsite, and when he got back we loaded it all in the car and headed to the start. We checked out sponsor tents and milled around until the start, and then finally they told us all to line up and did the pre-race announcements. The race started with a big loop on a grassy field, and then over a bridge and into the woods. It was seriously crowded at the start, but once we got into the woods there was a pretty large hill that started spreading people out. I heard someone yell out the one mile mark and checked my watch – 9:29. At that point it was still pretty crowded, but with each additional hill the field got more and more spread out. After the first aid station (wherever that was) I finally felt like I wasn’t constantly dodging people. The trail was moderately hilly, and not very technical at all, so it turns out the trail I’ve been running prepared me pretty well!

The trail wasn’t marked with mile markers and I never heard anyone yell out another after that first mile, so most of the time I really didn’t know where I was. When I hit the second aid station I knew that was between miles 3 and 4, and not long afterwards I saw the 1 mile to go sign, which the race director had suggested was actually more like 1.25 to go. From that point it was mostly downhill. I was in a group when we ran past a sign that said “boat ramp .3 miles” and we wondered whether that was all we had left to go, and then one of the girls right in front of me fell. She was ok, and we all kept going. Maybe 2 minutes after that I could hear the crowd, checked my watch, and saw that I got another big PR! Down a little hill, smile at Doug and Kona, over the bridge, and to the finish!

Watch time: 46:15 – almost a 5 minute PR!

And with that….I’m done racing until Fall – I think.

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