The first race on Saturday was Broad Run Jingle Bell 5 Miler sponsored by the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition. This was the second year for the race on the newly developed Broad Run Trail. When it is finished, it is supposed to run from Lake Manassas to behind the Target in Nokesville area for a total of 7.5 miles of linear trail. The race raises funds for trail development in the county so it was for a good cause. One of the other moms in my running group was interested in running as well so we decided to run it together. I wasn't familiar with the trail so I had no idea what to expect. I just wanted to get a nice run in and not push it too hard because I had a goal for Sunday's race. I checked in and got my race bib, t-shirt, and jingle bells for my shoes. It was really early so I went back to Caribou Coffee and used the bathrooms and chilled in the warmth. There were only about 150 runners, but more than half of them seemed like women in my age group. The age groups were also 10 year age groups which really reaffirmed my decision to not bother to push it. I met up with J and we agreed on running at an easy 10 minute pace. The trail was mostly gravel, fairly flat, and had some scenic areas. We also did some sidewalk running through some neighborhood areas. Overall it was a nice race. We were talking and enjoying ourselves the whole time and cruised in right under 50 minutes. It was an enjoyable race, and I would definitely do it again for fun. I would also check this trail out some more for an easy and interesting trail route. We actually ended up in 14th and 15th places in our age group which was a pretty good showing considering that we weren't really pushing it at all.
|J and I post-race|
The race director describes the course as gnarly and awesome, tells us to watch out for rocks, gives a few vague directions, and then says go. This is why I love EX2. There's a random line on the road as a start, there are no chips, and the race director counts us down to start. So we were off on about of mile of paved road and then some open field running to stretch out the field a bit. Then it started to get interesting.
The course was set up as 2 loops which would make up a slightly longer than 5 mile segment. We would do those 2 loops twice each. This course was a killer with some technical work. The descents aren't as bad as Fountainhead, but the trails are much rockier and some of the single track is really narrow. There were two really challenging ascents on each loop.
My foot was bothering me through most of the first loop due to the rocky trails.
Near the end of the 5 mile segment, I started to get really annoyed as 5 mile runners were racing past me, and my arch was killing me. I forced myself past the finish line and into the aid station at the opening to the first loop. JD was there, and I mumbled something about bailing on the race because my foot was killing me. Then I made the turn onto the trail. Someone running behind me commented that I might as well finish since I had already made the turn. I was running irritated for about another mile, and then I really started to enjoy it and push myself. My goal coming in had been to finish in under 2 hours. I had failed to do this at Fountainhead because I didn't push myself. Hemlock was a good trail for this since each lap contained some pretty runnable sections and some open field where you could really pick up the pace and make up for technical sections and hills. I knew that I had a shot at sub-2 hours because I had come through the first segment around 57 minutes. It was also helpful having run the trail because now I knew what to expect and when to push it and when the technical sections were coming.
I was really having a blast on this trail despite how hard it was, and I realized why the race director had described it as gnarly and awesome. I finally saw the one mile to go sign and pushed as hard as I could towards the finish line. I finished in 1:54, earned 15 points for the race, and had a great time. I can't wait to do this series again in the spring.