Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Trail Race Strikes Out Again

Since we had a holiday today, we decided to give the MLK Trail 5 Miler put on by Springfield based Metro Run Walk one more try.  We had tried this run last year, and it was a bit of a mess (more mess).  To be fair, the race has a really low entry fee, and most of the proceeds go to charity so we don't expect a big deal.  They are clear that it won't be a regular timed event with results, but they do promise a marked course and post-race food (last year the soup was rocking).

Given that they were only doing a single distance this year, we hoped that they had learned some lessons and would be better prepared.  When we arrived at Wakefield Park, we discovered that the restrooms close to the race start were closed for construction.  We ended up having to jog about 2 minutes down a trail to get to restrooms in a rec center.  Not a huge deal, but the race volunteers really weren't very helpful or knowledgeable about where the restrooms were.

I met up with a few women from other Moms Run This Town chapters.  The race director did a few announcements saying to follow the orange flags and that there was no water on the course, but they had bottles of water at the start that we could carry.  Now this isn't a huge deal as it was only a 5 mile race, but it would have been nice to mention this in the pre-race e-mail so that runners who did want water could bring a handheld instead of carrying a regular water bottle through the trail and likely end up littering (as this was a trail newbie crowd).  Given that this was a newbie group, I positioned myself near the front so I could get out on the single track and not have to wait for people who don't like to run through stream crossings.

I got out really well and was holding a 9:30 pace for the first mile.  I was feeling pretty good and cruising along clearing obstacles, splashing through the wet areas, and handling myself on the trails that were all torn up from the mountain bikes.  I came through the second mile a little under 10 minutes (my splits are not quite right as the satellite reception was off in the woods and my Garmin was always behind the mile markers).  Mile 3 was a little slower because there was a lot of weaving around on switchbacks across the powerline area of the trail.  This was annoying, confusing, and really unnecessary as EX2 manages to get a 5+ mile trail run in without having to do this.  At this point it was a little confusing, and I lost the trail slightly because it was poorly marked and the volunteer gave unclear instructions.  I noticed another girl who was on the trail that I wasn't quite on so I cut through some high grass and got back on the trail.  Again with this race and the bad trail markings!  Jim at EX2 marks parks all over Fairfax, and I have never gotten lost or even confused on one of his trails, but two years in a row with this annoying race in a park I know.  Given that it wasn't an actual timed race, I wasn't too worried about running the course exactly right, but still irritating.

Anyway, for some reason my left foot goes completely numb in mile 3. I think my shoe was too tight.  I could have stopped to loosen it, but I just wanted to finish the run.  I also didn't want anyone to pass me.  I was feeling a little competitive and kind of wanted to be top Mom.  I knew there were only 3 women in front of me because I got out hard so I was hoping to finish top 5 woman even though there weren't any prizes, and the field wasn't that competitive.  So I had to slow some because it was hard to keep a strong pace on the trail when I couldn't feel it with one foot.  I tightened up in the last mile and ended up getting passed by one more woman.  I debated putting on a sprint to run her down at the end because her kick wasn't very strong, but it wasn't worth it to me because I have a lot of miles to do this week.  So I think I ended up like 5th woman.  I finished in 52:40 (~10:30 average pace...not bad, but I was hoping for closer to 50  minutes flat given my strong start).

The soup wasn't very hot this year so that was kind of disappointing.  The long sleeve t-shirt was nice as always, and we got in some good trail miles.  I'm not sure that I would do this one again given that this is the second year that it has been a bit of a mess.

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