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:
24th out of 409 runners
2nd in age out of 28 runners
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.