10 mi. I know Oleta River State Park trails, even if I haven’t ridden here in two years or more. There were good people doing this race – Ken Baxter and his 2 sons were running, Romo Melendez, Hamed, and Jodi and her new boyfriend, Randy. Julie and Frans were working at a water stop on the course, so this was made to enjoy.
I decided to wear my Saucony Grid Peregrine shoes from a few years ago, They have more grippers on the bottoms and should work better than road shoes.
I arrived early, did the easy packet pickup and took a small warmup lap on the trails near the parking lot. I had two lights, one belt mounted and a head lamp. I discovered the belt mounted light wasn’t bright enough for this use, it works ok for running on the road early mornings. The headlamp is probably best suited for camping, not the super bright trail setup I would need. My eyes aren’t as good in the dark, so if I continue doing these it will be with a MUCH better light.
The race started and I went with the first of two waves. My first mile was done in 7:10 – I only had one girl (Alice Henley) in front of me. Once we entered the single track, that’s when my lights and vision proved to be dim. I saw how easy it was to skip or trip and fall. I didn’t fall, thankfully. I caught myself tripping twice and I recovered in time. I did get momentary cramping in my calve muscles as I went through the “save” process. Both of these happened in the later half of the race.
At the end of the Half Pipe section, we run along the road by the cabins and then into section #3. I saw a girl wearing the iRun kit cheat – she came right across the road and tucked in behind me, even though I loudly spoke to her twice and said, “NOT COOL!” She never passed me but I hoped to see her try that during the remainder of the race.
I had a few younger guys pass me on course, maybe 4 or 5. I was focused on not allowing anyone that could be in my ten-year span age group to pass me. I counted off the miles in my head – saying “3 miles clear” meaning no falls. I was careful in that respect, knowing a bad ankle pull or roll would cause me to have to walk back.
Just after mile 6, I didn’t see any markers or reflective arrows. I tried to back up on the trail, then I couldn’t find the original trail! I waiting in one place for the next runner to come down the trail. A guy came down, I asked if he had passed mile 6 yet, and he thankfully answered, “Yes.” I ran with him, he went ahead a bit, then slowed to walk. We passed each other a few times – finally, he fell back and I didn’t see him again.
I ran up the only real hill on the course, I saw a photographer and heard people cheering ahead. When I ran up the hill, a guy yelled at me to not run towards the photographer, he questioned if I was looking for “more gains.” I really couldn’t see a difference, so I kept going until I almost ran into the photographer! They said my lights were low and asked if I wanted to borrow a candle or iPhone. Yeah, hint taken.
The final trail section was on a trail called Rocky Mile. It was tough, the limestone rocks and roots made for tough foot placement. I saw the “verification” timing mat hidden in the woods, right at mile #8. It took my best concentration in the final miles to run clean and not fall.
Once out of the woods, it was approx 1.5 miles to go. But I wasn’t going to do another 7 min mile. My legs felt heavy from the different type of running I had done. Up on my toes and plenty of side-to-side action had different muscles feeling it. Especially my feet! I saw the light of the guy behind me as I went around the “Caribbean” style beach, but he wasn’t going to catch me. I came in solo in 1:43:xx. This was best in the 50-59 age group, but there were no AG awards at this race.
I stayed after for about an hour. Hamed won 3rd place overall, I never saw Ken or his family, Frans and Julie came back just before I left. While waiting for the awards presentation, I took off my shoes and went in the water. There were “No Swimming” signs due to bacteria in the water, but I had to cool off and clean off. My feet and toes were cramping! The shell rocks and bumpy beach added to the discomfort.
A new headlamp and some off road practice before the next one, I promise!