Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Masters of All Terrain 5 Miler Race Recap

Last weekend I ran my first trail race...and I didn't die. I'll call that a win. Actually, it was a really great race and a pretty cool experience.

For the most part my training during April was more consistent than during March. That said it, was still not spectacular and this race kind of snuck up on me. I knew it was coming and then all of a sudden it was next week. Before Sunday I hadn't run more than 4 miles since my half marathon at the beginning of March.

I am trying to run at least one race a month this year and was having a hard time figuring out my April race when this one popped up on Groupon. They were offering both an off road 5 miler and a half marathon. Since I had never done a trail race, I figured the 5 miler was the best option. That was a smart decision.

When my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. Sunday morning, I was less than motivated to get up and go to this run. After a little chat with myself, I rolled out of bed, pumped and got ready. Once I was on the road, my mindset changed from "what the heck was I thinking" to "okay lets do this so I can go back to bed."

The race site was about 20 minutes from my house and in the middle of nowhere at the Hal Scott Reserve. My GPS told me I was at the site about a mile before I got there. Luckily, it was well marked and easy to find in the dark. I pulled in and went to pick up my packet then back to the car to pump. I am so happy that this is probably the last race I will have to pump before. Baby E is coming to my May race and probably my June race too. I then headed back to hit the port-a-potty before the race and the line was long.

Not what you want to see 10 minutes before the race starts.

I was looking at my watch and the line and figured I wouldn't make the start of the race, but the race organizers held the race start for about 5 minutes to let the line die down. For me, this was a great compromise between letting everyone start and keeping the race on time. At a little after 7 a.m. we were off.

The first half mile or so was a little crowded, but after that people spread out and you had plenty of room. For the first few miles the trail was made up of packed dirt and sand with grass and a little bit of gravel here and there. Most of the scenery was fields, but you also got to run through a small group of woods. The first couple of miles flew by and I hit the first water stop about two miles in. This was also the first turn around point for the 5 mile race.

Heading out

I continued to feel good through the next mile and a half and began to think that the trail run was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. A little before I hit mile 4 the trail part of the race caught up with me. I started to feel the toll that the uneven ground was taking on my feet and ankles. There was also more grass on this part of the course and it made running a little harder. The good thing was that I only had about a mile to go. At that point I was very happy I hadn't registered for the half marathon.

The morning was full of tranquil views

The last mile seemed to take forever, but then I turned a corner to come out of the field and the finish line was right there. The good thing about running in the middle of no where is that you have no real idea how far away from things you are. 

My official time was 1:07 and I placed in the middle of my age group. Since this was my first off-road race of any kind, I took things really conservatively. I dropped back to 3/1 run/walk intervals I used for the half marathon. Next time I will have a better idea of what to expect and can set some goals accordingly.

I have to say I was really impressed with the race overall. You never really know what you are getting into with a Groupon, but this is a company I would race with again. Packet pick-up was easy, the course was well marked and decently supported, and the shirt and medal were some of the nicer ones I have gotten. I think that a trail half marathon may be in my future.

Baby E Liked the medal.