My first trail race will certainly not be my last!! This 10k was my favorite race by far. I’ve run several other races but I can honestly say this is the first one I really trained for – for months on end. I trained as much as a full-time-working-mom could possibly train without sacrificing time with her family. I trained through the miserable Texas heat and humidity – which seemed endless. I can say today – it was so worth it.
This was a “destination race” for my husband and me. We traveled about an hour outside our town and stayed overnight in a hotel because start time was 7am. We had come to this town, and stayed at the same hotel, a few weeks ago for a training run so we were prepared. We knew the hotel pillows felt like deflated balloons, so we brought our own this time. We knew the distance from the hotel to the state park, so we left an hour early on race day. We knew the terrain of the trails, so we dressed accordingly for possible creek water and definite cactus.
We arrived at the park at 6:00 am with plenty of time to wander around and make sure we knew where everything was. I have to admit I was anxious. Sometimes having too much time to wait around is a bad thing. Images of me tripping on a rock/hitting my head/falling in the creek/landing in cactus started to creep into my mind.
We made our way to the pavilion where things were hopping. There was water, coffee, music, and the vibe of anticipation! It was great! The announcer first called out: “We need the 6:00/milers to the Start!” I laughed to myself and thought “oookay I probably have time to go to the bathroom before it’s my turn!” Soon it was my husband’s turn to get started so I sent him off with a kiss and a “Be careful!” (he did the 25k). Then it was my turn!!
The humidity that haunted me for months followed me here. Apparently it was 91%. I had right-sided chest pain for the first mile. At around mile 2, the
knife pain moved down to my right abdomen – I thought “Good, it’s a cramp, not a heart attack!” Note: I had no signal out there, so I didn’t have my GPS on. There were no mile markers, so I’m estimating the distance. The loop around the big dome was stated to be 5 miles. Around mile 3 my cramp subsided and I started having fun! I got braver with each step. I hopped over rocks and galloped down hills! I hit my stride and I was flying. Mile 4-5 was flat but more technical. There were narrow trails lined with cactus and rocks. I was loving it.
Then it came time to summit “Big Dome.” This was the final mile, with the finish line at the top. Using the woman in the photo wearing the Texas flag running shorts (not me), you can see ahead of her there is a wide trail, then in the distance is the rock. Pictures cannot express the difficulty of this ascent. Once I got farther up the summit trail, it felt like I was vertical. I feared falling backwards (which is why there are no pics from that point). Runners were climbing, crawling, and pausing to catch their breath. I was surprised my chest pain didn’t return. Runners and spectators who were making their way back down the mountain after reaching the finish were encouraging those of us who were still suffering – “You’re almost there!” “It’s so close!” “It’s just over the horizon!” Finally the summit appeared and the rock flattened out.
I ran to the yellow flag, triumphant!
After chatting with a new friend up there as we waited for her husband, I was ready to head down the mountain – to the food! My new friends and I chatted all the way down and I hoped to pass my husband, but I didn’t spot him. My new friends suggested I plug in his bib number into the timing trailer computer so we could see where he was at – he was about to finish his 3rd loop and come by any minute on his way to the summit! I planted myself there and sure enough, there he came! Knowing what lied ahead of him and what he had just gone through, I hurt for him but I knew he was doing awesome!
I busied myself with awesome post-race fare like kiolbassa sausage tacos (race days are often vegetarian breaks for me), juice, oranges, chips, cookies, and hot chocolate! I also changed into dry clothes. My husband arrived and we exchanged congratulatory hugs.
I was so proud of myself for conquering this challenge. I shed a little tear of joy before we headed home – exhausted but hungry for more!