Watch out for the Walnuts

October 3, 2011 By Lauren and Tom

Who thinks waking up at 5am on a Sunday is a good idea?! A crazy runner. At least that’s what Tom was thinking as we rolled out of bed to a cold 38 degrees Sunday morning for me to go run another 13.1 of the year.  After frantically searching for hats and gloves (yes, it was that cold) we were out the door at 5:45am to go meet LG and drive up to the start line right outside Purdue University. 

This would be my first trail half marathon and a great training run for the full in December. Trail running is such a different animal than road running. There are steeper hills, logs to jump over, river crossings, tree limbs to duck under and an uneven running surface, it’s much more of an adventure and you truly aren’t sure what awaits you around the next corner. Even though the trail makes for a more challenging course I always seem to run better because I’m not thinking about how I feel, I’m worried and looking for the next tree or root that could take me out. And yes, a root took me out BIG time on Sunday!  At 11.5 miles I lost a second of concentration and BAM, I hit the ground hard. Luckily all was okay and despite my feeling of constant dead arm today, I got back up, knocked the dirt off my butt and continued on.

But let’s go back to the beginning! There was also a marathon, 15K and 5K taking place along with our half marathon. We would all be running the same course, starting 5 minutes apart and would run out and back. The marathoners would have to run out and back twice to finish their 26.2. Since trails usually aren’t that wide, this could make for an interesting race.  Most people that run trails are super laid back, friendly and supportive of all other runners. I loved how everyone said good job as they passed someone, yelled on your left and there was no jockeying for a better position. We were all out there to have a good time and stay safe. And trust me there were a few cliffs.  

LG and I started out fairly casually and talked through the first 4 miles and despite a few sections of sand that made us feel like we were running down the beach it was a great course. Tom was on top of his photography skills and surprised us at a few locations around the course that we didn’t even know he could get to by road! Guess it’s a benefit of marrying a bike racer J We hit the first aid station, took our GU, grabbed some water and continued on, it was a perfect fall day and now the coldness didn’t feel so bad.  The turnaround point had another aid station which had some good little food bites (bonus of the trail), we grabbed some more water and turned around knowing we were half way through!

Our legs felt great and we started to pick up the pace. Despite my hip flexors being a little tight and knee hurting as I jumped over roots and logs, my legs felt great! We started passing some large groups of men, of course saying “good job” as we blew past in our pink shirts. There is just something a little satisfying about passing a guy J We were surprised that we didn’t see Tom at the bridge where he was on our way out but figured maybe he had already had enough pictures of us.

The miles just started clicking away and before we knew it we only had 2 miles to go, this was in the bag, so we picked it up a little more. Minus me hitting the deck hard our last 2 miles were uneventful. Over the river, across a few stones, up some stairs, around the last corner, we could hear the finish, and then up the last hill, AH the finish!  We gave each other a high five, got our tree stump medals and grabbed some water.

But where was Tom?!  He definitely wasn’t there taking pictures and he is always pretty quick to find me at the end. Well, long story short we ran too fast and we had just missed him at the bridge where he was set up to take pictures.  Guess, it was a good problem to have!

We finished in 2:03 which is quicker than my last road half! My Garmin showed the course was a little short but oh well, maybe we cut the route a little bit. Overall, it was a great run! We had a great time, felt really good and pretty much talked through the whole run.  Days like these are why I continue on after a bad race. I definitely think we’re on the right path to dominating the full in a few months J