"Ask not what your team can do for you, but what you can do for your team."
-Ian Adamson

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Into The Darkness 4 Mile Night Trail Run

This race has been on our schedule all year. I was on the fence about it because of the time, 7 p.m. on a late October Saturday evening. I was, how shall we put it, terrified of falling on the trails in the dark and getting badly hurt. But loving Mountain Junkies I signed up despite my fears of people jumping out at me on the trail for a good scare and the thought of running in the dark.

We bought cheap headlamps at Target and I went equipped with a flashlight. We drove to Explore Park, almost to Roanoke, off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I wore my spiderweb shirt Todd made me from a black tee and glow paint. We made it in time to get our packets, don our headlamps and hear the race briefing. We started in the back of the pack and Todd and I ran along together for the first almost half mile before we went up a hill. Having run a 5k that morning (I am woman) I had told myself this would be a good, fun recovery run. I told myself that 40 minutes would suffice and I might still place. I almost always place at trail runs. So I walked that big hill and let the space between Todd and I grow. And I didn't pass people everytime I had the chance. I took it easy, tried to have fun with it. But no one jumped out at me and the trails were incredibly well groomed. So I picked up the pace a bit. I felt good and my headlamp gave me more than adequate light to tackle the course. It was certainly easier when I had runners directly ahead or behind me, but all the same even when I was out there all by myself I had plenty of light and was running too fast to scare myself with all that darkness (in truth, there was a full moon on Friday night).

At mile 3 I was far ahead of my 40 minute time goal so I decided to pick up the pace even further and really sped up, I was feeling great and loving the course. I am so thankful to Mountain Junkies for this race. Had I not done this race I would never have thought of trail running at night during the fall and winter. Now I know I can and have a wonderful time.

I got back to the road and the last .1 mile of the race and didn't pick up my pace. It was dark and I just didn't feel like running even faster. Boy do I wish I did. I noticed the clock and tried to get in under 35 minutes. I didn't. I finished in just over 35 minutes. That didn't bother me, what did? Not placing. I was ONE SECOND behind the girl who placed second in my age division. Had I not walked that first hill, had I not been so terrified of the dark, had I not been a baby about passing on the course, had I just picked up the pace those last few steps I would have placed. But alas, I got cocky. I took my ability for granted and played it way too cool and easy. Lesson learned, I promise. Because I could have run faster. I didn't need to walk. It's almost as though I forgot it was a race and not just a fun run. I'm not upset that I didn't place (Ok, maybe a little), I'm upset that I didn't give it my all.

Next year I plan on having completely overcome my fear of the dark and going back to really conquer that race.

Todd enjoyed himself too and ran very well.

Our results are below and here:


7:39 pace
24th out of 409 runners
2nd in age out of 28 runners


8:33 pace
61st out of 409 runners
4th in age out of 39 runners

*I was the 10th woman to finish the race, I only counted because of the women only event I'd been in that morning.

I am Woman 5k

This is Lynchburg's only all woman event. And despite the fact it may seem sexist, I love the idea of running with just other women. For one, I can feel truly at the front of the pack. And that was my goal at this race, to place in my age division. I looked at the past years results and was confident of my ability to place among the 100-150 runners who've run it in the past. Then I found out that this year's registration was record breaking, over 500 women had signed up to run or walk the race. I started biting my nails.

Ok, truth be told, I was already a nail biter. And, truth be told, I didn't think that the larger turn out would effect my ability to place. So we went out and ran the course three times last week. Once with strollers in 28 minutes. Once for a tempo run in 23 minutes and another time with friends to find out what we'd been running the first two times was not the entire course. I was nervous. I started chewing off the skin around my fingers having long since run out of nails.

I really wish I were kidding. I wanted to do well in this race. I wanted to come in under 23 minutes and take my age division. I wanted to prove something to someone even if I don't know whom or why.

Race morning I felt sick to my stomach and tried to think about the afternoon. Then we got to the race and I saw the start line, 200 feet long in a grassy field closing into a 10 foot path for 3 miles. I knew I had to get out there and get in the front or lose time passing people. So when the race started, I took off.

And I mean took off. I was out in front. Front. Leading 500 women. It was nothing at all like it sounds. It was terrifying. I just wanted someone to pass me. I just wanted no one to pass me. I didn't know how far behind me anyone was and I didn't know if I could pull off the pace for three whole miles. But I was out there, leading the race. Scariest moment in a race and yet maybe the most rewarding all at the same time. I'm still going over it in my mind.

I held first until a quarter of a mile. I can't tell if that hurt me or not, but I know that I held my pace around 7:11-7:18 for all most if not the entire race according to my Garmin. That's great for me and yet I'm beginning to wonder, can I hold 7? Under?

The girl behind me in the picture, she won the race in 20:20. That's just awesome, and a 6:33 pace. I'm definitely not there. But hopefully someday. At one mile I was tied for fourth place and trying to hold on as best I could but really beginning to suffer from the pace I was trying to hold. At the halfway point and mile 2 I was seventh but fighting to hold it. At mile 3 I had fallen to 8th and really fighting some negativity. However, with a backwards glance (which I NEVER do) I saw no one behind me for some hundred yards or more which made me feel a little better and my pace slipped to 7:38 for the next tenth of a mile. I don't know if somewhere deep inside me there was the ability to run any faster but it was closer enough to the surface to access it.

There in the last hundred yards I was still close enough to fight for 7th, so I let loose my sprint and gave it all I had to reclaim the 7th position and finish in 22:23, a 5k PR by almost a minute and a half.

I felt good about my time but starting in the front and being passed is far harder than starting in the back or middle of the pack and passing others. I HATE to be passed in a race and that was incredibly difficult for me to have an entire race where I basically passed no one. Even if it was only six other people it was still frustrating for my personality.

And then there were 10 year age groups instead of the customary five. And even with 22:23 I didn't take my age group. I mean I placed, I came in second in the 20-29 age division and even got my first trophy, but with a time like that I was hoping to do better.

I'm hard to please is all.

Official results below and here:

7:14 average pace
7th overall out of 459 finishers
2nd in age (20-29)

Preliminary 2011 Race Schedule

Looking ahead as we often do, I am compiling a wishlist for 2011. There are several series I would like to run in their entirity but a few have overlapping dates or are on days with bigger more promising races to run. However, I plan on running Mountain Junkies R Nuts Series in its entirity because they make me love trails and they put on my favorite races. I love everything they stand for and how they love it as much as the runners. I wish that their races weren't based out of Salem but I will travel to do their races because they're just that good. And of course for another piece of Pumpkin Bread. I would also like to run the Liberty Mountain Trail Series and the Lynchburg Road Runners Series but there are so many races and a few overlap, so as I get closer to them I will decided where my loyalties truly lay.

Also, on the schedule are an ultra (a 50k++ in February) and my first full marathon. I don't know how lofty these goals are but a year ago I would never have thought I could run a half marathon and I ran two this year with pretty good times, so if I at all can, I will.

Here in chronological order is the pain and suffering I would like to subject myself next year, and hopefully place in my age group at least 50% of the time:

1/8/11 Frozen Toe 10k (MJ R NUTS Series)*

2/12/11 Holiday Lake 50k++ (Beast Ultra Series)*

2/19/11 Candlers Mtn 5k (Liberty Mtn Trail Series)

3/5/11 Explore Your Limits 5k&10k (MJ R NUTS Series)

3/12/11 Shamrock Hill 5k Roanoke (PR goal 23 minutes)

3/19/11 Montvale 5&10 milers (MJ R NUTS Series)*

3/20/11 Shamrock Half Marathon VA Beach*

3/26/11 Terrapin Mtn 50K & Half (Beast Series)*

4/2/11 Ukrops Monument Ave 10k (PR goal 50 minutes)

4/9/11 Mill Mtn Mayhem 10k (MJ R NUTS Series)*

4/16/11 Godparent Home 5k*

5/1/11 Flying Pig Marathon Cincinnati*

5/1/11 Bald Mtn 10k (Liberty Mtn Trail Series) *Depends on marathon

5/7/11 Trail Nut 10k & Half (MJ R NUTS Series) (PR goal under 1 hour)

6/5/11 Mountain Junkies Trail Run (MJ R NUTS Series) this is to be a surprise*

6/18/11 Presbyterian Homes 5k (LRRS) (PR goal 23:30)

7/2/11 Academy Mile (Lynchburg Road Runners Series)*

7/16/11 Percival's Isle 5 Miler (LRRS)

7/23/11 Odyssey AR

8/13/11 Lynchburg Half Marathon (LRRS)

8/20/11 Fab 5k Roanoke*

9/4/11 VA Beach Half Marathon (PR 1:47:00)

9/10/11 Downtown Fall Frenzy (LRRS)

9/17/11 Odyssey Trail Running Rampage Marathon*

9/24/11 VA 10 miler (PR 82:00)

10/8/11 Deep Hollow Half Marathon (Liberty MTN Trail Series)

10/15/11 Odyssey AR Fall Sprint

10/22/11 I Am Woman 5k

10/22/11 Into the Darkness Night Trail Run

11/5/11 Apple Valley 5k

11/12/11 Valley View 5 Miler (Liberty Mtn Trail Series)

11/24/11 Turkey Trot 5k

12/3/11 Peaks of Otter Christmas Classic 5k

*Denotes a new race or one that I've not run.

Some of the PR's I've set are at races I feel I could really improve upon my time. I may edit and add these as I get closer to match my training and ability.

I'm getting really excited about the New Year.


Deep Hollow Half Marathon and 5k

OK, so I realize it's been 10 days since the Odyssey Fall Finale Sprint and you've still no idea how we did. But it's been even longer since our half marathon trail run and 5k at Camp Hydaway and still no race recap. So going in order, here is how we did at that race.

I (Alexis) decided (was extremely encouraged by my husband) to not run the half marathon. My IT bands have been bothering me since the Rock 'N Roll half marathon at VA Beach in September (or before that?) and it was decided that the trail half could set me back in my training. Todd on the other hand ran the half marathon just a few short weeks after his ultra marathon (did we ever post a race recap for that?) and did well.

I ran the 5k as hard as I've ever ran a trail 5k and I believe my time shows that. What my time doesn't show but the results do if you take a closer look is that I literally chased a 9 year old girl (running her first ever 5k) down a mountain always in sight or her but never able to catch her. Ahead of her (female wise) a 12 year old. I'm feeling old. It was the first time I've ever placed in the overall category for a race though and was feeling pretty good about it.

Results below and here:

Todd (Half marathon)


19th out of 113 total

5th in age division out of 9

Alexis (5k)


14th out of 91 total

3rd overall female