Monday, August 3, 2015

A Legend in my Own Mind

I hate trail running. I don't want to. I really, really want to like it. Unfortunately every time I sign up for a trail race my excitement is dashed by tree roots and bugs and being smacked in the face by branches. I'm entirely too much of a diva to really enjoy trail running.

Despite my general aversion to trails last weekend I ran the Legend Half Marathon at Sleepy Hollow State Park just north of Lansing. My main motivation for running the race was to keep myself on track while training for the New York Marathon. The race was nearby, and I ran the 10 mile version five years ago while training for my first marathon. I was miserable at the finish of the 2010 Legend 10-miler, but somehow I seemed to have forgotten that. It seemed like a good idea to try it again.

At the finish of the 2010 Legend 10-miler. My face says it all.

I haven't been in the best running shape the last month or so.  I had my first DNF (did not finish) at a 10k in Nashville on the 4th of July. I've been anemic and light headed, and it's made running a challenge (particularly in the heat and humidity). On Friday my colleagues and I participated in 90 minutes of Pound and Pilates as part of Fitness Friday hosted by the downtown Lansing YMCA (part of a work project we were doing), so I woke up Saturday morning with my body sore in places it isn't quite used to. does your spine become sore? Ouch.

The race started at 8:30 am, relatively late for a summer half marathon. I made it to the park about 30 minutes before the race and seamlessly picked up my packet. The race started on time, and my achy muscles and I ran into the crowded start. 

This is where I'd love to regale you with a tale of my overcoming soreness, rocking out this half marathon and regaining my marathon training confidence. That would be a lie. I started off strong, and for the first few miles I felt okay. The trail was surprisingly not congested. Around mile three I fell pretty hard. Thankfully my hands braced the fall, so other than my bruised ego I was okay.

It started to get really hot around mile 6. By that point the only thing going through my mind was "get to the finish" on repeat. The race was mostly on shaded, forest trails, but every now and then we'd run out into a sunny open field. I came to dread the sunlight. Aid stations were not as plentiful as I would've liked, but I understand how difficult it would be to have more of them on that course.

At the aid station just before the 8 mile marker I may have traumatized a young boy (maybe 7 or 8?) by taking a handful of ice from him and shoving it into my sports bra. He loudly whispered, "Dad! That lady put ice down her shirt!" The melting ice kept my core cooler, and it helped get me through the next few miles.

By mile 11 I was really running out of steam. I counted to 60 in my head as I took a short walk break and reluctantly started running again. Then just past mile 12 I watched the runner in front of me take a rolling tumble. I stopped and asked him if he was okay. Another runner said, "Be careful - I run here a lot and this part can be treacherous." I thanked him and started running before taking my own rolling tumble. This time my hands didn't break the fall, and I could feel my stinging knees. I walked it off for just a second before pushing myself to finish the last mile. As I came across the finish line I was just glad to be done. That race wasn't about speed but about endurance and pushing myself. I did push myself, and my 2:13:31 time was faster than I expected (and good enough for 3rd in my age group). 

The things I'll do for hardware.

After I got home and showered my husband and I walked downtown for lunch. I was sore, but it felt good to walk it out. I've learned as a parent that race day no longer means getting home and lazing about. I have a baby, and I don't get to stop unless he stops. Thankfully we both got a two hour nap that afternoon. The next day I hurt everywhere. It was brutal. I wore heels to work today, two days later, and my shins were screaming with every step.

It's a well documented fact that I don't know my limits. I feel like I'm on the road to back on track with marathon training even though I've got a lot of work to do. Despite the end result being okay, I realize definitively that I really don't enjoy trail running. Every time I get the itch and want to jump into a trail race I need to be reminded I don't think it's fun. I'll take a boring old road race, please. The Legend was a good challenge, but I think I'll stick to the pavement from here on out.


  1. Great news! back in the saddle again!~ Congrats!~ I am really concerned about running Woodstock..Trail running is so different. I feel like there is so much more unexpected factors involved But you are so right, its not about time for me either.


    1. I'm back. Slow...but back. :) Trail running is brutal. When I read about your ultra I was so impressed. I have such a hard time with trails! Good luck with Woodstock - I know you'll be amazing!