The forecast was for sunny 60 degree weather by 3pm, but at 5am, it was downright cold. The starts of the 40, 20, and 8 mile races were each staggered by an hour, so as an 8 miler, I had a lot of time to kill. I chatted with John as Mark and Amy kicked off their 40 mile adventure. I took pictures and cheered as John disappeared up the hill on his 20 miler, and then returned to the van to keep warm and wait for the minutes to tick past. I had run a 15k the previous weekend and felt pretty good, so I was optimistic that I’d have a pretty good run. I was extremely excited for my first real trail race.
An hour later, I am skidding around a hairpin turn, spraying frozen mud and wet leaves everywhere as I try to dodge the loose rocks and roots all over the trail. I find myself almost wishing to be back on the thigh burning uphills because they were less scary. Almost.
When I hit my third uphill, the momentum and adrenaline wear off. I am still hanging with a small group of runners, but a few of us slow all the way to a walk. As a fairly experienced racer, it takes a significant swallowing of pride to accept this. It helps to not be the only one. I soon learn, though, that pride is the least of my worries. High school physics is a bigger concern, as I learn the hard way that Newton was right: objects at rest tend to stay at rest. As the hill levels off, convincing my reluctant legs that we really do want to start running again is difficult. Slowly my stride opens up a bit, until I lurch into next downhill. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It helps to have a bad short-term memory.