MCM Mama is hosting a virtual race to commemorate turning 40 and I decided to join in. The details of her race is to choose either a 4.0 mile, 8.25 mile, or 40K run and run it between 20-25 August. I choose the 4.0 mile run and here is my report. *Note that some creative license was taken with the prerace and some details may have been embellished, but the stats are correct. Oh…… and names have been changed to protect the innocent. By the way, if you don’t follow her blog, she has some great posts. I always enjoy reading them!
Warning…. Warning…… It’s a long post!
The day began simple enough. My boy, lets call him “Mr. Sassy” spent the night with me in the basement. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a boy’s night and we enjoyed it immensely. At 9:00 he was still out, Mrs. Wifey headed out to target and didn’t get back until nearly noon with a nice cup of coffee and donuts (Yeah I know! such a great pre-race breakfast!!). I then set out for the pre-race setup. This entailed a gas up and trip to Walmart for some non-race related supplies. Then I was off.
My destination was Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area where I planned a 4 mile trail run. I’ve hiked here many times in the past and even scouted it out on Friday with a short hike. I chose this area because it’s a fairly demanding trail, but not over strenuous. There are several loops and some pre-race surveillance online (courtesy of mapmyrun.com) gave me a route that was nearly 4 miles (roughly 3.86 using estimated mapping of the trail due to tree cover. I’ll have to admit, this falls short of the 4.0 mile goal for the virtual race, however, due to the nature of trail running, and that there were many quick and short turns and obstacles to overcome, I most likely came very close to the 4.0 mark. Before heading out, I’d noticed it was looking somewhat scary outside and so I checked the weather online. Sure enough, there was the potential for rain in the area, but only around 40% chance. I risked it
Here are a couple of pictures from the area I’ve taken on previous hikes, This area is unique to the Eastern Seaboard, in that it contains a large amount of serpentine rock. I’m no geologist, but that basically means there is a lot of rock embedded on the trails making for some interesting stepping at times. It also contains a fair amount of prairie landscapes making for gorgeous scenery while hiking or running.
Here are a couple of pics from previous hikes in the area.
I arrived about 12:15, did some stretches and headed out. My watch lie comfortably at home, wondering why I didn’t take her with me…… I forgot. Being with out a watch, I did what I could and noted the time on my cell phone. The run started off well. I had decided to run the larger of the two loops on my route. It starts with a slight uphill through some windy woods, then heads down hill for nearly a mile before turning and heading back upwards. Without my trusty watch, I had to rely on my wondrous mental powers to track when to have my walk breaks. I was aiming for around 2-3 minutes of running to one minute of walking. About the time I came to my first prairie opening, the rain hit. Light at first, then steadily gaining strength until it was downpour. I continued on, hoping at any minute it would lighten up, but of course I have no such luck. I made it to the bottom of the loop crossed the stream pictured above, then it was back up the hill to the parking. This is where it hit hard. The rain was still pouring and I was soaked! My walking time started to exceed my running. This leg of the route is roughly 3/4 a mile long, up hill the entire time, through many rocky patches. It was tough, but I made it through, and settled into a good run along the visitors center road. I had about a 1/2 mile stretch of road to run on before hitting the parking and starting the other loop. It was a good change of pace. flat, smooth, and not muddy!
The second loop is easier, not as rough incline/decline’s and less rocks, but since it’s been pouring for roughly 25 minutes, the mud was growing. about 1/4 mile in on this loop is an interesting feature, one of the worlds first chromium mines. It’s basically nothing more than a big hole in the ground with railroad tracks leading down. Here’s a pic of it from a previous hike.
Of course, I didn’t stop to see it today, I was on a mission….. no,no, a run…… wait, scratch that, I was on a RACE! So I kept going. Through the forest of many roots (for some reason the trail is riddled with a ton of small, maybe 1 inch thick roots inter twining. Pretty hard to maneuver through while running I must day. At some point while through this wooded area, the rain stopped. It suddenly became hot, humid, and even steam was coming off the rocks. This made for the last mile or so of the run rather brutal climate-wise. Thankfully it didn’t last long. I hit the bottom of the loop and was immediately confronted with another rocky, inclined path. Not near as hard as the previous loop, but enough to induce longer walks and shorted runs. Finally I saw the road. From here it was approximately 100 yards to my truck, dry, cold air, and a drink. I pushed on. I hit the road and my goal was in sight. I speed up, not knowing how slow or fast this run was. Just knowing that it was rough and tiring, but still one of my best runs of late. I hit the truck, opened it, and checked my time. 49:50 (roughly, my phone doesn’t have seconds, so I was estimating based upon the minute changes). Faster than I was expecting after the hills. I relaxed for a couple of minutes, said my goodbyes to the crowd (no humans around, but plenty of birds, cicadas, and crickets applauding my victory!), then hit the road home.
Overall it was a great run. While running through a few areas, I had visions of this scene being published in Runner’s World on those pages with someone running on a gorgeous path with nothing but themselves and nature. I always love hiking. Mostly it’s a solitary act for me. A way to get outside of the crowdedness of the suburbs and into a natural habitat. It reminds me of growing up in rural Oklahoma. I used to frequently take hikes alone in the woods behind my house. This place always reminds me of that.
During the entire run I only came across four people, I don’t know their names, but in keeping with protecting the innocent, I’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. Older Hippie Hiker. I crossed paths with them twice, as they were going opposite me. They looked like an old couple that goes hiking frequently and is at peace with the world, possibly coming from the hippie era. The other couple I’ll call Mr. and Mrs. Soon To Be Married. They were a young couple probably have been together for a while, maybe newly weds. Who knows. Regardless, Only seeing 4 people for an entire 4 mile run was great.
So there you have it, my first Virtual Race Report. Thanks to MCM Mama for hosting the run. I’d love to win something, but I’ve just enjoyed participating in the run and writing out this rather long race report. looking forward to reading others race reports.