This morning’s race was one of the most truly fun races I’ve ever done. It was out on the Guana River trails about 45 min out of town right next to the beach.
For me, there was no normal pre-race anxiety. It was very low-key with very few runners. The race (both the 50K and the 25K relays) had been capped at 125 runners. It didn’t look like there was that many there this morning. Also, no timing mats and no chips. Just a big clock at the Start/Finish line. It was a little cold pre-race ... 56 degrees with a light breeze and clear skies.
The loop through the trails is 8 miles long. Those of us running the relay would run 2 loops. Those running the 50K, 4 loops. Although Monica and I were a relay team, we were allowed to run it together. That was nice. Most relay teams did that - ran it concurrently. Some of the really fast runners ran it as a real relay - consecutively.
The man in charge of the race this morning had the appearance of an old grizzled mountain man. He explained the trails making up the loop we would take, and where he had placed flags to show which way to go as the trail branched in different directions. He pointed to painted trails on a wooden map as he said, “Now at this part the trail branches. If you take the left branch you will go straight into the ocean. You can see that from where the trail branches. I didn’t flag it because I figured that as primates this would be an instinctual thing for you NOT to run off into the water. Stay to the right.”
Dawn was just starting to break as we made our way to the starting line. The big start? Mountain man looked at us and said, “OK. Go on!”
And we were off!
I haven’t run on trails in well over a year. Immediately, I remembered what I don’t like about FL trails. They are very soft and sandy and laced with Cypress and Live Oak roots. I had to remember to run slower and look at the ground just a few inches beyond my feet. Anytime I would look farther ahead than that, I would trip or turn an ankle. This seemed to be a common problem among many runners this morning. We saw several as the day went on covered in dirt from having fallen.
Needless to say, I tripped many many times out there on the first 8 mile loop around. I never did fall, though! As we finished up the first loop, people were there to cheer us in. We stopped there for a restroom break, and to re-fuel. One of the picnic tables was covered with candies, gels, electrolyte capsules, bread with peanut butter, pretzels, etc. And, there was plenty of water and gatorade. After a refreshing, we were back out on the trails for loop 2.
The Sun was fully up now, and visibility was much better. Because of that, or maybe because I had just gotten used to looking down while running, I had much less tripping and ankle turning on the second time around. And, the distance was OK. The breeze stayed with us and the temp stayed down. It was only 68 degrees when we came in.
More cheers as we finished our second loop, and a nice race shirt! Yes, we got the shirt on completion of the race. I really like that practice! ALL races should do that.
And, then there was food! Much food. BBQ, baked beans, cole slaw, bread, tea, soft drinks, water. A very large feast.
All in all, it was a very nice morning run. I will probably run this one again.