After a difficult week, this weekend was about taking back the finish line for runners and spectators everywhere. We traveled to Roanoake, VA for the Blue Ridge Marathon this weekend. I wasn't running, but JD and the kids were running. The kids have been logging miles for the past several weeks to get up to 25 miles and earn the right to run the last 1.2 miles on the actual course and cross the official Blue Ridge finish line. The Foot Levelers expo was awesome and so inspiring. It was really small, but three of the legends in running were there signing books and posing for photos.
|Kids getting hit with color as they run their mile.|
This morning we headed out to the 4th race of the EX2 Spring Backyard Burn Series. We were running at Laurel Hill Park site of the old Lorton prison so that added some excitement.
That doesn't sound too bad. What that description leaves out is that the 5 milers get off easy. The 0.7 paved miles, and the 2.3 mile loop were fairly flat and pretty fast compared to the rest of the course. The other 2 miles of trail that the 5 milers ran also left off the 0.9 miles of rolling hills through a meadow that the 10 milers got. My strategy in these races is usually to figure out the trail on the first loop and then press on the second loop when I know the course and how best to run it. That obviously wasn't going to work today. I made the first mistake by getting caught in with a bunch of 5 mile runners from the start of the single track. As it was very difficult to pass, the pressure was on to keep the gap between you and the runner in front of you pretty tight. I was running around 8:30 miles for the first 3 miles just based on how my effort felt, entirely too fast for a 10 mile trail run. I think we were on Pasture and Apple Orchard Loops at this point.
Back out onto Workhouse and we get about 0.25 miles of the Cross Country Trail until we are directed into Giles Meadow. There was this amazing police officer directing traffic for us when we crossed a street who was cheering and clapping for every single racer that came through. Giles Meadow was awful, rolling hills through a disc golf course with high grass that was just dragging at your shoes.
|Obviously, I was not running happy here. I am pretty pissed about running through this grass.|
When we finally got out of there, we were told we had 1.5 miles to go (good Lord, isn't this over yet). We ran some more switchbacks and about 0.25 miles from the finish encountered our first caution signs (which is a surprise since we normally get a plethora of them at EX2...this should give an indication that the trail was not very technical...just rolling). We had a stream crossing which we could negotiate on boulders and then burst out of the woods into a finish in the meadow. The boys were waiting for me and ran in alongside me to the finish. Overall, I thought I ran really well and really hard, but my time was only 1:49:30. It's still my second fastest trail 10 miler, but I thought that I had run a lot better. We'll see how I placed when the race results are posted. Results posted...yuck! I managed a point for 20th place in my age group, but my gut reaction that I sucked compared to the rest of the field was correct. I currently have a total of 8 points through 3 races which puts me in 8th place for the series among eligible series runners in my age group. Top 5 in points get an award at the end of the series. I think I would have to be pretty much the only woman who shows up at Fountainhead to crack the top 5. :)
They had a short kids' sprint after the adult race. Zman tore out in the lead and was in a foot race at the end with another girl. Zman crossed before her, but they got tangled at the finish. He fell and face planted into the grass. I ran over to see if he was OK. Instead of answering my question he said, "Did I win?" Meanwhile Nickel had gotten tripped on the turnaround, but instead of crying or quitting he got back up and finished out the sprint.
After a long emotional week, I think this is the ultimate lesson...bad things happen, but we get back up, we find our strong, we keep running, and we never ever give up. I feel proud and happy of what our family did this weekend and glad that we were able to stand with other runners and spectators to take back our finish lines.