Back home from the Dirty Soles 10K trail race at Fountainbleu State Park. My official time was 1:07:37.9 which was better than expected and the race went well. For the most part, the trail was technical, meaning it had lots of roots and the ground was slightly uneven. There wasn't much elevation, as you can see here. I was relieved because I hadn't hit the trails as much as I would have liked.
Now to the business. It was more than a 10K. It was meant to be a 10K and half marathon, but the director, Jeff, just had the 10Kers do the first loop of the half marathon route, which he had marked as 6.55 miles. We'll deal with the discrepancies later. The race definitely earned it's name. We started the race on a utility road that lead into the trail system. I used the Comite River Park Trails as a gauge and brought some bug spay. As soon as I walked into the packet pick up area that morning, the mosquitoes were swarming. I had a small spray bottle of repellent and other people needed it, so I was glad to help.
Now, to the race! The race started on that utility road and one hundred and 50 meters into the race, we hit a a small pond. Some people decided to go straight through it, and fell. Not me. I did a careful slog around the muddy perimeter and quickly learned that it didn't matter. :( Around the 1.3 mile mark, we were required to go through a small canal. Twice. The first crossing took us knee deep. I was in capris, so I pulled them up. The second crossing seconds later was about mid-shin.
It seemed cool at the time, mainly because it was getting hot and the water was cool. But I also was suspect. We were in a huge park, but it was surrounded by neighborhoods. I was really wondering what was in that water. Anyway, I also worried because I still had five more miles to go and my shoes were old. Those Saucony's had served me well, but they were mainly neutral shoes, not fully equipped for the trails, let alone shin-deep water. I had on my Balega's, great socks, so I just told myself to focus on the run. I still needed to make sure to keep my form, not trip and of course, finish!!
The rest of the way, I just watched the people in front of me. I always use the other runners as motivation. If I'm feeling good at my current pace, I just want to keep them in sight. If I feel slow, I start to go after them. Crazy alert: I talk to myself a lot during a race. Every tough segment, I congratulate myself, then encourage myself to stay focused because I still have a ways to go. When I hit the halfway mark, I let myself know, "you've hit the halfway mark, good job, but you still have a ways to go. Stay focused."
That is basically how I finished this race with a time I was happy with and will continue to employ that in my running. Now, some issues. This is not the first time there have been issues with races by this director and his lack of due diligence. I truly believe that if I pay my registration, it is my job to show up, get my swag and run. That's it. I don't think that's too much to ask. It should be noted that the night trail race was also organized by him. I didn't feel like the trail was marked well enough and that was obvious since multiple people got lost. Jeff also didn't explain the course very well, since he appeared to be on beer number three or four during the explanation. For Dirty Soles, on top of the lack of properly marking the 10K route, he also didn't set up a side chute for the half marathoners. He also did not apologize for not doing his job! During the night trail race and Dirty Soles, he admitted, "Oh I didn't set up such and such. I guess I should have."
REALLY, GUY!?!?! I don't think I'm being uptight, mainly because this director is an experienced trail runner. He has run many races himself and knows what is expected. He is not doing that. I have really got into trail racing and at this point, I don't think I'll run many more of his. For the upcoming race, he posted that participants should be ready to swim. I asked if it was a full swim because some people wear iPods and not all Garmin watches are waterproof, his response was that he hadn't mapped the trail yet. SO WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT!?!? This is after he announced that the race is being moved because of scheduling conflicts. That was three months before the race. Three months before the race, you haven't reserved the race site??? That's way too much fail for me to deal with!
On a happy note, his brother is an awesome photographer. LOOK AT ME!! Lookin' like a real runner. :)