Saturday, October 22, 2011

Muddy Monster 15K Cross Country Run

I had been wanting to run this race for a few years but my schedule just never seemed to work out. It is a unique race for the area as it is run entirely on grass or dirt roads. I really enjoy trail runs so I thought I would give it a try.

After the usual pre race hydration ritual of a an energy drink I showed up for packet pickup. The race is held at Seminole Valley park which the city maintains with a historic village and farm. The race course winds through both of these as well as the park. I was required to park about a 10 minute walk from packet pickup in the grass. There was no designated parking lot so I parked along the roped off area and walked over to packet pickup to grab my timing chip and goody bag. The goody bag for this race is better than some I have seen with lots of snack bars and some coupons I might actually use.

It was pretty chilly at that point and I was wearing my stocking hat and coat
I was also wearing my running pants as the temperature was about 30 degrees. I would regret this later. So about 30 minutes before racetime I ambled over to the starting line and took about a mile warmup run. I started to regret my clothing decision almost immediately. By the time I ran that 1 mile I was already overheating. When I arrived back at the starting line I saw a couple of friends and fellow runners Kris and Brian. We talked for awhile then the National Anthem was played and we all lined up for the start.

I had taken my jacket and stocking hat off and was carrying them in my hand. I figured I could toss them under my car as the course passed that way. Once the gun sounded I took off at a moderate pace. My goal was to use this as a training run to put a few more miles in for the week. So I was shooting for 10 minute miles. I saw Brian take off up ahead of me and kind of kept my eye on him. The course was  3 laps of a 5 K route. There was quite a few 5K runners so the course was quite congested at the start. We ran through the grass by the car parking area and I tossed my jacket under my car, shortly after that we turned north and hit a small trail. The lead 5K speedsters passed me going the other way at this point. The trail dumped onto the access road that circled the living history village and we ran the perimeter of the village and headed back south on the same trail.
After coming back out into the park itself we hit the grass, running past the finish line and up a slight hill. We then ran about a mile east strictly on grass. About halfway through this section there was a large muddy and watery low spot. I tried three different techniques crossing this area during the race. I went to the left,I went to the right, and I ran straight through. No technique was better than the other. After the muddy area we headed down hill and hit a dirt road than continued east and then looped back on itself. It was during this section that I caught up with Brian and passed him, then about .5 miles down the road he passed me
We kept up with this back in forth for a few minutes then by mutual agreement started to run together. We crossed the start line and completed the first lap in 29:11. Lap 2 was more of the same with the exception that there were quite a bit fewer runners since the 5K runners had turned towards the finish. Brian and I ran at a steady pass holding a conversation for most of Lap 2. Somewhere on the dirt road section the lead 15K runners lapped us but we kept our steady pace. We finished Lap 2 in 1:00:05.

At the start of Lap 3 I was really regretting wearing my running pants as the temp had climbed to about 60 degrees. I was also feeling the reality of not running over 6 miles in the last 2 months. My legs were beginning to wear down and I was struggling a bit. As we looped through the historic village for the third time Brian started to pull away from me. I let him go as I just tried to maintain the current pace. Eventually he would finish a little over a minute ahead of me. I concentrated on trying to keep my pace under 10 minute miles. By the time I hit the dirt road on the return I was broiling and my legs felt like lead. I could see the finish line in the distance and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Turning off the course towards the finish I was just concentrating on keeping my head up and powering through. Crossing the finish line at 1:30:47 I had managed a 9:47 minute per mile pace for the 9.3 miles. Decent effort although it wasn't as easy as it is some days. I also may be postponing that 13.1 mile run i had planned for tomorrow.

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