Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 12 September 2013

My Night Trail Race Shenanigans

So I ran the Merrell Night Series Race #2 at Groot Constantia last night. 

Last week I ran it for the first time. It was actually my first proper off-road trail race and also the first time I have run completely IN THE DARK.

Running in the Dark  (Photo by Tribe Photography)

I opted for the longer 8km route (the short route is 5.5kms). Unlike the regular road races it is a smaller group and organisation is more casual and relaxed. So at the start line, and just minutes before the start, we were briefly told the route (which not really knowing the farm well meant very little to me anyway). With a last minute warning to run around and not into the pond on the way back in the dark we were sent off.

I got into a pace and was enjoying the run a lot. There were a bunch of fast guys up ahead and I followed them and all was well. Until about halfway into the run the field was so spread out and it was properly dark and there was just one guy ahead with lights and reflective strips bouncing in the near distance. I saw him turn down left and followed him, only to find we were re-joining a large group at the bottom of the hill and going back around the same big loop around the dam. It didn't feel right! 4-5 other people had followed me. The first guy turned back, I decided to just loop around again figuring it would just be extra training for the BIGGER race I am doing this Saturday. So around we went doing at least 1km of the course again and then finding the correct exit (straight and NOT left) when I got back to that point again. I soldiered on and kept running and completed - without running into the darkened pond.

Amazingly though I finished as 5th lady! I have NO idea how I achieved that as I am pretty sure I ran the whole rest of the route and my iPOD claimed I'd done 9.5kms so I definitely did cover 8-9kms minimum. 

Winning ladies last week (Photo by Tribe Photography)

I also found out at the end that the guy I had followed was the winning lady's boyfriend! Hrm... decoy-much?! So I was bemusedly-bummed about it and decided I'd go back this week, to take a podium finish. I didn't think it would be easy, but I thought I could do it.

So off I went last night, confident and ready. I even found and looked at the map beforehand to confirm where I'd gone wrong the week before and to ensure I knew the route. But the map made no sense to me so I finally gave up and went to the start. Where, as the race briefing started, I realised the route was completely changed this week. Noooo! Most of my confidence revolved around me knowing the route and knowing where I could let loose and run FAST. This week they also included 260m of climbing - not my forte at all! Shit!

Anyway, off we went. I set off hard and fast and was in the frontish group with only 1 lady (same one who won last week - she is FAST) ahead of me. The route was better marked and marshaled this week, but was MUCH tougher. I ran and ran but the terrain was tough and not conducive to running fast with normal road-running shoes on. It was very uneven and slippery and the steep bits were so steep and gravelly almost everyone resorted to walking in that section. At times staying alive was more of a focus than winning I will admit!

Still I was determined to do well and ran as fast as I could and pretty much stayed at my max heart rate for most of the race. By the time I finished I could barely breathe and my legs wanted to collapse. Since the 5.5km and 8km races converge and finish together I was not even sure how well I had done, but thought I may have managed a 3rd place..?

Sadly though when the results came out I was 5th lady again?! Nooo! Bugger! Same lady as last week finished first and well ahead of #2, so she is fastest lady by far!

Now I am so going to have to find an entry (it's sold out) for next week so I can try AGAIN! I wonder if I can get some trail shoes by then so I have a fighting chance at least and am not slipping and sliding and yelping my way around the course!? :)

Me running Race #2 (Photo By Peter King)

Anyway I am enjoying it a lot, these races are really festive and social and fun! The free wine tasting at the end being an added bonus.
More of me (Photos By Griff)

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