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Posts Tagged ‘racing’

Last year I came across this really cool photo (7th in the gallery) of a person running on a trail in the middle of these super tall trees. The photo won a contest, which did not surprise me. “Whoa… that is so pretty!! I want to run there!”, I said to myself. I knew that the trail was local, but I had no idea where it was. I asked one of my running friends, but he was not helpful.

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This past winter, I decided to check out the cross country skiing trails at Cumming Nature Center. I have not been there in a super long time… in fact, the only thing that I remember about it was the one time when Joel and I were riding in the area and somehow we got lost and ended up at the Center. We went inside to ask for directions (it was pre-smart phones) and the woman at the desk looked worried, a bit more than we were, since we were way off course. We did find our way back to the car… with a few more miles than we intended.

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As I was making my way to the main trail, I was in awe… it was the trail with the super tall trees! The skiing was fantastic! I loved the woodsy trails and views. I ended up going back two more times.

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While chatting with the director, he mentioned that they were planning a trail race and festival in June. I was super excited since I loved cross country skiing there. I signed up when the registration opened.

I kept watching the forecast all week prior to the race day. It was a super hot week… in the upper 80s at times. A chance of thunderstorms kept popping up and going away for race day. The chance of rain went away, which was great. But the temperature dropped into the upper 50s, which was a bummer since it was so much warmer the days leading up to the race. My legs do better in warmer temperatures.

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My friend Sara ran the race too… it was her first trail race!

During the pre-race meeting, we were told that it down poured pretty much all night and that the trails were muddy. I was not too happy about that… I do not like running in deep mud. A few people were super excited… I do not understand the attraction. Why do folks like running in deep mud so much?!? It ruins the trail, you can fall in it, you are covered in mud, and your shoes and socks are super drenched in mud. I do not get it!!

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I have learned to start a race in the front in order not to get stuck in a bottleneck. As soon as we were told to go, I went. The run was ok. The trails were not my favorite, I must admit… 90% of the race was in a deep mud that was covered with tall grass, which made it difficult to see where your foot was landing. We also ran up this hill that seemed never ending and we also bushwhacked through the woods, which was a nice change. Unfortunately, the constant foot changes ended up bothering my knee.

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I was pretty much on my own for the majority of the race. Around mile 4, a woman passed me. She looked comfortable and strong. I was a little bummed since she was the first female to pass.

Since my knee was bothering me, I slowed down and even stopped at times. I tried to stretch and massage the muscles around the knee. Then another woman passed me. I was even more bummed! I was so upset at my knee. I tried to stay with her but she was going too fast and my knee was screaming at me. “Grr… it is what it is.” I thought. I just kept running and walking at times. Finally, the terrain did change a bit so my knee was not bothering me as much. Then another woman came behind me. I knew her from my yoga class, so we started chatting about the race and we shared the same feeling… the terrain was not a favorite.

I really did not want her to pass me too. I knew that I was going to be in 4th place if she did. So I took off. I had no clue where I was pretty much the entire race, but I ran over a bridge and it finally looked familiar. I realized that I was not too far from the finish. Then I found myself among the super tall trees. I also saw Joel and Julia towards the end of the stretch cheering for me. I was so happy to see them! As I ran past them, Julia shouted “Mommy you are the third female to finish!”. “Hooray!”, I responded.

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Photo courtesy of Ironwood Adventure Works.

I did it! I finished 3rd overall in the female group, which included 33 women. I also placed 12th overall out of 51 runners. I ended up with 6.1 miles with a 11:37 average pace. I have been running that pace for 4 miles, trying not to overwork my knee too much, so I was happy to see that I was able to sustain that, despite the rough terrain and longer miles. I was super proud of myself!

The race also included a small festival among the tall trees, which was great! It included 4 breweries, a kombucha place, a juice place, and a food place. Julia played with lots of kids and then hung out at a table where she learned how to make hops DNA. She had a super fun time!

Joel and I and a couple of friends had some super good food and a bunch of beer. A fantastic way to finish a race!

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I recently read an article on Outside that smiling makes you a more efficient runner. The article went on to say that “a hard effort makes you frown, and, conversely, frowning might make an effort feel harder—and smiling might make it feel easier“. Seems reasonable. Apparently, a study was even conducted, which pretty much proved that smiling does make you a more efficient runner.

I liked what I was reading and wondered if that was indeed true. Not that I am doubting science, but I just wondered anyway, as a personal experience. I thought about my past races, especially when Julia and Joel cheered for me or when others cheered for me… I feel that their presence and inspiration definitely helped but I was unsure about the smiling part. I do tend to smile a bunch if I see someone who I know, especially Julia or Joel. Did that brief period of smiling really help? I definitely think that their cheer was a distraction, which helped reset my thoughts at that particular point in time. But the actual smile… I was skeptical. So I decided to conduct my own experiment (because that scientific study did not convince me… ha!).

The article could not have been written at a more perfect time… I had a race coming up. This past Saturday I raced the 10k option of the Mendon Trail Run, which took place in Mendon Ponds Park. Joel ran it too. The weather changed a bit drastically and it was a chilly morning so I did not want to get to the start line too early. But once at the start line, there was no pep talk from the organizers and all of a sudden we were off. I hardly had enough time to start my watch. Also, as the pack hastily took off, the front group did not pay attention and missed the required turn. All of a sudden I found myself at the back of the pack. Joel ran past me annoyed. I was annoyed too… we just started and already got lost. Ugh!

As I was trying to settle on the route, I noticed that I was frowning and felt very annoyed. I was going up a small hill and I felt out of breath. That sudden start and missed turn really affected my mood. I then thought about my experiment and I laughed. And I kept smiling for the entire race. I even found myself bursting into laughter thinking about the experiment. I wondered if the other runners saw my smile and heard my laughter. That made me laugh too… I must have looked a bit ridiculous. I ran past the only aid stating, which was located at the half way point, and the volunteers cheered for me and one actually said “good job and you are still smiling!“. That made me smile even more! So with the biggest smile on my face, I thanked them for their cheer.

As I was coming close to the last stretch, I ran as fast as I could… still smiling. I felt super good and finished strong. Joel finished ahead of me, so we chatted about our runs. He mentioned that he did not feel too good. I told him that it was one of my best races and felt super!

I believe that the smiling really helped my run. Throughout the race, I felt super good. My legs were not in pain as they usually are. Even my breathing was calmer. Also, throughout the race, I really enjoyed the run and was not dreading each mile, especially towards the end of the race. I also felt like the run was easier than any of my previous runs or races. And lastly, I think that smiling really changed my overall mood and attitude.

As Joel and I were hanging out in the lodge resting and having a snack, the organizers presented the race awards. For my age group, she called my name. I could not believe it! Also, looking at the results, I placed 23 out of 65 for the overall group and placed 7 out of 32 in my gender group. That is just crazy! I thought that I had a good race, but I felt like there were a bunch of runners and women who were much stronger than I was.

The convincing part of this experiment was the pace. Recently, my pace has been around 11 to even 12 minute miles for 3 to 4 mile runs. I have actually been pretty disappointed about it lately since I feel like I was much faster in the past and even at the beginning of the year. Granted that I have only been able to run twice a week and I do run on my own a lot, so perhaps those are some of the reasons. Running or cycling with a group has always motivated me… I know this for a fact. For the race, my pace was 10:19… and this was a 10k! I am really excited and proud of myself that I was able to run it at that pace! And although there were many runners around to motivate me, I definitely think that the smiling helped. Every athlete should give this a try! And if you do, I am curious to hear all about it.

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This past weekend I raced the Medved Madness Trail Race. Last year was super fun, so I decided to race it again this year. Just like last year, I ran the race as a relay with Joel and our friend Marc. We were “My So Called Legs”.

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Since I needed the extra miles due to my 1/2 marathon training, I decided to start the first leg and then run the second leg unofficially. Joel needed the extra miles too, so we decided that he was going to do the opposite and then add a couple of extra miles more so he can get 12 miles. Marc did not need any extra miles, so he just ran the last leg… lucky him!!

The week leading up to the race was a wash. It rained everyday for five days. It was awful! Not only that, it was also cold… in the 40s at times. Joel and I kept watching the forecast, hoping that it would improve. It did improve a bit on race day. No downpours, but still a chance of rain and 40 for a high.

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Listening to the pre-race speech.

About 300 people signed up for the race, so the turnout was amazing. As we were all huddled waiting for the start, we were sprinkled with a little snow. “Oh, perfect!”, I thought. Once the race started, the sun actually came out for a while. That was a welcomed sight!! But then around mile 7 or 8, it started to rain pretty hard. Luckily it only lasted for a short period of time. Nevertheless, I was drenched.

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Off we go!

Overall the race was not too bad, I guess. I ended up with 9.31 miles and with a 10:47 pace. I am not sure how I managed that pace. The trails were crazy muddy!! In multiple spots, it was a pond with deep mud. After a few of those, I just accepted them… the goal was not to fall or loose a shoe. The cold did not bother me too much. I wore tights, a short sleeved base layer, a long sleeved shirt, my lightweight rain jacket, gloves, and a headband. I was not cold, but a combination of sweat and the rain definitely got my clothes pretty soaked.

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(Photo credit: Medved)

As soon as I finished, I went to the car and changed. As I was walking back to the race event lodge, I ran into Dave Farrands, who works at Medved. We chatted a bit and then he asked me if I wanted some hot cocoa or tea and brought it over to me. That was super nice of him!! I felt cold and was shivering uncontrollably, so I went into the lodge to warm up by the fireplace. Then I saw my sister who stopped by to bring my rain coat, which I forgot at home. As soon as she saw me she told me that my lips were purple. It took 2 cups of tea and some food to stop my shivering. I guess that the cold and wetness affected me more than I realized.

The post-race food was once again an amazing feast! The Medved folks are so nice!

I checked the race results and we placed 14 out of 35. Super proud of my team and our efforts!!

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Joel finishing up his leg.

Julia did not race this year. She planned on it but ended up getting a fever and had to stay home. She was so upset that she was missing it! During the week leading up to the race, I mentioned that it will probably be raining during the race, but she insisted on racing. Also, on the Thursday before the race, I overheard my sister asking her if she will still race if it was raining and her answer was “Yes. I can just wear my new rain coat.”… love her!! :) Turns out that the kid race was canceled anyway, so when I mentioned it to her, she felt a little better about not being able to go to it.

The Medved store posted some nice photos of the run on their Facebook page. It definitely shows the race conditions. Not pretty!!! Haha!!

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The Medved Madness trail race took place a few weeks ago… on May 1st to be exact. I am always weary about signing up for anything that takes place outside… I do not like to do anything outside if it rains.

Before I started running, I would always sign up for the Highlander Cycle Tour, which in the past took place in September. September in Rochester can be super hot, super cold, super sunny, or super rainy. In fact, the first year that I rode it, it was all those throughout the ride. It was also my first century and I kept thinking to myself what was I doing out there riding for 100 miles in the cold/cloudy, then sunny, then rainy, then cold, then sunny/warmer day. I think that out of the 6 years that I rode it, only 2 or 3 times was nice out.

In the days leading up to the Medved Madness run the weather was looking good. No rain but a bit chilly. Then of course, with my luck and the stupid Rochester weather, it changed to rain. Bah! “Why can it just be nice for once!”, I complained to Joel. I ran the run as a relay… Joel ran the first leg, our friend Marc ran the second leg, and I ran the last leg. The run was actually super fun! And the weather ended up not being too bad. It was just a bit drizzly at times and not too cold. Also, with my luck, I ended up running through the exact same mud gardens and hill as in the Dirt Cheap race, since the race was also in Mendon Ponds Park. Super lucky! Ha!

But the most exciting part of the race was the kid race. When we first told Julia about our race, she enthusiastically told us that she wanted to run in the race too. Of course we said yes! So during the leading months, weeks, and days, she trained for the race too. Joel set up courses for her… around the perimeter of our house, around the trees in our front yard. She was super excited!

As we were walking towards the event tent, Julia told me that this year she wanted to run it on her own. Last year she ran the race too, but we ran together and I held her hand the entire way. She was only 2 1/2, so I was impressed that she even wanted to run it at all. She did great last year too. She also told a few of her friends that she was going to run in the rain. Although, as we were walking towards the race tent, she mentioned that she no longer wanted to run in the rain. I reassured her that it was not a big deal and that all of us were going to run too. I am glad that she changed her mind.

As the kids took off and she ran past me, I could tell that she was super excited. I ended up running behind her to cheer for her and to make sure that she ran the course. She had the largest smile on her face the entire time. As I was checking out the photos that Joel and Marc took, I noticed that she also had an intense and focused look on her face at times. She seemed so determined to have a good run.

And she did! She did SO awesome! We are super proud of her. I think that she is proud too… she talked about it for a few days after the race. It was so fun to watch her race and I loved her excitement and enthusiasm. I hope that we can find some more races for her soon.

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She did it!! Good job Julia!!

Lastly, I wanted to mention the après run party. This was by far the best running event that I have ever attended. The food was fantastic! We are super lucky to have Medved in our community. They did a fantastic job with the entire event!

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About a month ago, an email came into my inbox about a race that was on dirt and it was cheap… $13 to be exact. How can you pass that one up! Ha!

The Fleet Feet Sports Dirt Cheap Trail Race Series (aka Dirt Cheap) is a series of 6 races, but I decided to only sign up for the 1st series just to check it out. The race started at Devil’s Bathtub in Mendon Ponds Park. As I drove into the park, I came across rows and rows of cars that were parked along both sides of the road. “Wow! That’s a lot of people.”, I thought to myself. I heard that the race was popular, but I did not realize that it was this popular.

The race was interesting. Apparently 432 people ran it. Crazy!! The trails are not very wide, so there were bottlenecks. Luckily I started closer to the front, but even so, there were bottlenecks. And then there were the mud gardens. In the mountain biking world, there are rock gardens. In the running world, there are mud gardens… or at least that is what I am calling them. Ha! And oh what mud there was! Deep, wet, slathery mud. Mud where you are afraid to pull your foot out of since your shoe may be lost in it. It was the craziest mud that I have ever ran through. And it was not just one mud garden, there were at least 3 mud gardens. Although, one was definitely the worse. I do not like mud! I could not help but just laugh as I ran through them.

As if the mud gardens were not challenging enough, there was this one hill that went straight up and then straight down. I do not care for running too fast down a hill since I can just picture myself tripping and just doing cartwheels all the way down. Some folks were running it full speed, which I do not understand how that is even possible.

Lastly, as if the mud gardens and the huge hill were not enough, the finish included running up a staircase. That’s right… a staircase. I am speechless. Haha! This reminded me of the Highlander Cycle Tour where you had to climb Route 12 out of Naples at mile 90… so cruel!!

I guess that in the end the run was pretty fun! It ended up being 4.73 miles and I ran it with a 10:44 average. I was pretty proud of myself for that. I think that I could have ran it a little faster if those bottlenecks were removed. And apparently I ended up placing 145 out of 432. Yes! :)

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