On Sunday morning I took my bruised butt and achy arm back out on to the ledges trail. It was my first race of 2013. And even though I had run the same trail the day before and took a serious spill on the icy path, I was up and ready to go 24 hours later.
Sunday was the first race of the 2013 Dirty Trail Race Series. The Dirty Snowflake Prediction Run was a 4 mile route on the trail starting at the Ledges Shelter in Peninsula. Each runner would give race organizers their predicted finish time and the person with the closest time to their predicted finish, wins.
This was a race that really anyone could win. Of course I was all about it.
The race didn’t start until 10:00am, which was amazing. Getting up at 6:30 every other day of the week for work or running gets difficult, so it was nice to sleep in until about 8am. I got up pretty much on time but was really slow moving for some reason. With all my extra get ready time I lost track of time and got out the door later than I had anticipated.
Packet pick up and entering your prediction time was from 8:30 – 945 and I didn’t get to the shelter until about 9:35. Only 10 minutes to spare. As I waited in line to get my bib I thought about what my time would be.
I had initially thought it would take me an hour. And with all the ice on the trails and the potential for walking some hikes or stairs, I thought maybe 64 minutes was a good time. One hour to finish with a 4 minute buffer. But then I heard other runners talking and they were spouting more ambitious times. So I thought maybe I was giving myself to much time. Maybe just an hour was a better bet?
I settled on 58 minutes. Then threw in an extra 30 seconds just incase I needed to tip the scales one way or the other. So I told the girl at the Prediction Time table: 58:30.
I ran back to my car and tossed my water bottle and phone. I figured it was only 4 miles, I wouldn’t need to carry water for this one. It felt weird to leave my phone behind, even weirder not to have my garmin. But watches and clocks were obviously forbidden on this run.
I hung out with some running club peeps as we waited for the start and we disscused our time guesses. When 10:00am rolled around, runners spilled out of the Ledges Shelter and to the starting line… Ready, set, go.
The first few hundred yards of the race was on the shelter drive way, so of course I was running at a road pace, but once runners packed onto the trail you had to slow down because the trail was just bottlenecked. We ran the ledges trail opposite of the direction we ran it the day before so I was very cautious watching for icy patches.
It wasn’t as much of a concern because runners were so packed together in the first mile or so. The terrain was a little tretcherous and technical, so if you are unfamilair with the trail as it was, you would forced to be extra attetive with all the ice. So runners were heel to toe for quite some time.
Around mile two things thinned out and I was able to actually run as opposed to shuffle along. I began to feel that itch to look at my wrist and see what mile or pace I was at. But with no Garmin, I had no idea. I could not have told you how far along I was. I only knew once we hit mile 2 because the aid station was at mile 2. That was it.
Toward the end of the course runners ran around the ledges shelter to complete the 4 miles. It was a weird feeling to be able to see the finish line but run around it and not know how much longer to go. I kept thinking, “If the finish line is right there, where the hell are we going?” When you have your garmin you can look at it and at least know how much longer, then weird course turns make more sense.
When I crossed the finish line, finally, I knew I was ahead of my time. It was a good run and I felt good, I didn’t need to do any real walking and I didn’t fall down this time either. How far ahead of my predicted time though, I wasn’t sure.
When I walked into the shelter I could see the top of the computer monitor that was posting runners finish times in realtime. I saw the ticker at the top said something around 55 minutes and it had been a couple minutes since my crossing the finish line.
As I got closer to the table I saw my name with a finish time of 53:26. With a prediction time of 58:30 I was off by 5:04. Putting me in 70th place out of 101 people.
But you know what, I am glad I didn’t win this race. To me, 70th place is the best place I could have asked for. Why would I want to win and have to celebrate the fact that had zero faith in myself?
Initially I wanted to put down 64 minutes and then decided on 58:30. But finished in 53.26? I am a better trail runner than I think I am. I am faster than I thought. Over all, I am a better runner than I will admit to myself apparently.
The females did a better job of predicting their finish time than the boys did. Both male and female winners predicted their times spot on. How is that even possible? Second place female was off her time by 2 seconds and the 3rd place female’s time was at a difference of 4 seconds. Second place male had a difference in times of 15 seconds and the third place male was off by 17 seconds. Girls rule.
Clearly I have no concept on how long it will take me to run certain miles on the trail. But I am glad that I run faster than I think I do. If I keep this up, maybe I will have a better idea of how long it will take me to run the Fools Run 25k in a few months, then I can tell people when to meet me at the finish line.
The Dirty Trail Series kicked off on Sunday and there are plenty of races you can still sign up for through out the year. Check out the trail website here for race dates and information. If you are still considering Fools Run, it has not sold out yet as far as I know. But it will, so get on it!
Have you ever under sold yourself or do you know exactly where you are as a runner or athlete? How do you psych yourself up for a more ambitious goal? I might have to start actually giving myself a break and say, I’m an ok runner.