Saturday, October 12, 2013

Race Report: Fort Yargo Trail Race 3.1 miles

The nerves didn't get much better last night and my sleep was very broken and restless. It seemed like I had just settled into a deep sleep when the alarm went off. I actually considered skipping the race and sleeping. Thankfully I had posted so much about this race because the only thing getting me out of the bed was the idea of telling 'everyone' that I had chickened out!

I left the house a little early after watching the news and finding out that the Georgia Bulldogs had a home game at noon. The road I take to get to Fort Yargo is the main road to Athens, and it wouldn't be unusual for people to be up early to get there to tailgate. Thankfully, the traffic was just fine. We had been warned to arrive early because of parking and I'm glad I did. I got a spot in the parking lot but many people didn't. It all seemed to go very smoothly, though - it was just one less thing for me to have to stress about by being in the parking lot and not on the side of the road.

It was still dark when I arrived and I had no idea where to go. And it was chilly. I wore a jacket but I wasn't planning to run in it. I was concerned that I would be too cold. I got out of the car and followed the trickle of people until I saw some lights, which was conveniently where the packet pick-up was located. I walked right up and got my shirt and bib.

Ugh! Adorable shirt - now I was committed to finishing this thing so I could wear it!
When I was getting my bib, I asked where the start line was - a guy standing nearby started telling me, and then went on to describe the entire course. I told him this was my first trail race and he told me what all of my trail racing friends had told me before: it's well-marked, clean trails, very good folks in charge!

I wish I could say it helped. I'm not sure there is anything anyone could have said that would have relaxed me.

I went back to the car (thankfully the parking lot was very close to the start). I ate my granola bar and drank my water, then hit the restroom. Then I went back to the car again. I'm not sure if it was the cold or the nerves that made me want to hide out in the car. But there I sat until 8:00.

At that point, I decided to do a little bit of a warm-up walk down to the lake. When I got there, instead of turning around, I was captured by the beauty of the moment. I stopped and took a couple of pictures.

The mist was rising up off the lake in the sunrise! Absolutely beautiful!

In a few minutes, I would be running over this bridge!
I walked back up to the start line and got in the potty line again. At least at a State Park there are real bathrooms - well, park bathrooms anyway, but at least they aren't portapotties!

I surveyed the start and finish which were located next to the bathroom and packet pick-up area. We would start by running downhill. On a dew-covered hit. Which was slippery. Oh boy! I could see myself falling down the hill (picture the opening of "Little House on the Prairie" where Carrie tumbles down the hill??). I'd fall before I even made it to the trail!

The Start Line!

The Finish Line

The course runs down this hill, along the lake, and then over the bridge before we hit the trails!
I chatted with a lady briefly while waiting for the start, but then the horn went off and we were on our way! I had wanted to stop and take pictures but I found out quickly that that wouldn't be possible. One big lesson I learned was that my strategy of "start towards the back and pass people at the end" would not be effective on this trail race. Most of the trail was only wide enough for one person at a time. So if someone was slower than me, or walked up a hill, or in the case of some little kids who kept stopping short right in front of me - then I'd have to stop, too. Many of the folks who slowed or stopped were kind enough to step off the trail to let me pass, which was awesome. But it was sort of frustrating. I'm just not used to that. I'm not sure how to avoid it, though, since I'm naturally slower at the beginning. I guess that is something I need to learn about if I want to run future trail races. (Or maybe it doesn't even matter? I don't have to run for time! LOL)

I spent a lot of time concentrating on the technical aspects of the trail so I didn't trip and fall down. And like everyone had told me, the trail WAS very well-marked! There was tape blocking the areas we weren't supposed to follow, and there was orange spray-painted arrows and other marks to indicate where we were supposed to run. Not only that, but I never had a part of the race where I wasn't able to see people running on the trail ahead of me!

The trail was absolutely beautiful! I wish I could have taken pictures, but I didn't want to stop and trip someone up. I didn't get MUCH time to take in the sights simply because I was so busy watching the trail ahead of me! LOL One benefit to all of this concentration is that the time passed by SO quickly! I didn't have time to look much at my Garmin, but the mile markers were posted on trees! Before I knew it, we were back to the entrance of the park - and onto an open field area like the start line. I was definitely able to pick up speed at this point and that felt really good!

The finish line was on that blasted wet downhill, so instead of smiling and finishing with joy - I was mostly thinking, "Please don't trip and fall now!"

Trail race finisher!!
I ended up being #6 out of 17 in my age group. By the way, XTERRA bases age group placement by your age on December 2014 for some odd reason. So this was my first race as a '42' year old. @@

I grabbed a banana and some water, and since I wasn't in the top 3, I headed out. I still had 5 miles to do before I went home. I stopped by a park on the way home that I hadn't run at in a couple of years. I had forgotten how hilly it is, but I sure did feel it! Trail running uses very different muscles than running on paved paths, and I think it uses much more energy - at least for me! It could be because I haven't spent much time training on the trails, too. But anyway, I made it through my 5 additional miles and finally went home!

Loving this great tech shirt!!

Bacon, egg, and chocolate milk = refueling!
So the verdict is that I loved the trail race and I would love to do it again - I just need to be able to prepare myself for it by running on more trails! And I can highly recommend Dirty Spokes Productions - they put on a very well-organized race! It started on time (which is rare these days) and everything was well-marked! And did I mention that they donated ALL the proceeds from today's race to the family of a local man who died suddenly and unexpectedly of a stroke in August?? Yep, this is a class act all the way around! I am pleased to support them in the future! And if you're looking for a trail race, I think you would be pleased with them as well!

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