Last weekend, after being
forced convinced by my lovely friend Jill, I participated in my first real trail race.
Let’s all note that I ran 2 marathons, an Ultra and a handful of half marathon’s in 2013, but this little 5K was by far the most taxing on my body. It probably didn’t help that it was about 40 degrees and pouring down rain, but for those of you who know my history with running in the rain, I didn’t so much mind it.
The 5K took place out at the US National Whitewater Center on the outskirts of Charlotte. The USNWC features a multitude of activities not the least of which being man-made rapids for kayaking and rafting, zip lines, free falls, and miles upon miles of running, hiking and biking trails of all difficulty levels.
The course started out from the trip-talk center, on the far side of the property’s concrete sidewalks, before leading us around the rest of the main sidewalks on the backside of the rapids, and into the trails by the half mile mark. Right around the 1 mile mark we encountered a very large, intimidating hill. Now, I run hills quite often so I don’t find them so challenging that I end up having to walk, but this one kicked my ass. Having to high step around roots, rocks and tread lightly to prevent slipping on the wet ground I was BEAT half way up and had to move over to the side and walk. Talk about a mentally defeating moment. We weaved through the forest, which kept us mostly dry, until we reached a more open part of the trail. This is when things got messy. Between the 1.5 and 2 mile mark we hit a number of spots on the trails that were a flooded, muddy, clay mess. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what happens when this clay gets wet, it’s about the equivalent to wearing flp-flops on the ice. Unless you have some grip on the bottom of your shoes, you’re likely going to meet the earth in the most unpleasant of ways. I was lucky enough to stay upright, but I saw a number of people post-race who didn’t seem to be quite as lucky.
I’ve decided that trails are as mentally challenging as they are physically, and I liked the idea of taking this challenge on on a more regular basis.
Post-race, we took advantage of NoDa Brewing’s winter beer, appropriately named “Santa Baby,” and some of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. While I enjoyed the experience, my knee didn’t seem to share that sentiment.
My poor left knee was stiff, swollen and sore from 3 hours after the race until this morning. I don’t remember tweaking, twisting or hurting it in any way so I was surprised that it reacted in that manner. This, unfortunately, also meant I was unable to participate in our Charlotte Running Club Christmas Light Run on Sunday night. What a disappointment. My knee is finally starting to feel better today and I’m able to bend and straighten appropriately, but I think I’ll take a few more days off from running just to be safe.
What’s your favorite part about trail racing?