I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to end the year doing my favorite thing, trail running with friends! Unfortunately our one day of winter happened to fall Friday night (the night before the race). I got off work around midnight and it was already down to 40 degrees. So cold! My alarm went off around 5 am and I headed to the race around 5:45 am. It was 33 degrees when I pulled into the trail head. yes, 33 degrees. Wow it was so cold my bones hurt. The race started and we took off slow and steady. I had 2 small goals going into this race #1 don't RACE and keep my heart rate under 150 bpm average, and #2 have fun pacing my best friend for her first trail 1/2 marathon.
The course was gorgeous. It had a few small inclines, lots of shade, a few patches of soft sand, we ran near the water, on some single tracks with lush shrubs, and through the woods. It was a 2 loop course roughly 6.5 miles each and had 10 water stations. The finish line was on the water front and beautiful.
We took off pretty steady staying between 10:30-11 minute miles. I didn't start warming up until about mile 5 where I took my gloves off (only to put them back on around mile 7! My middle fingers were stark white and numb, not sure if the circulation was poor due to a combination of the cold and Lyme, or what was happening but it was pretty painful. We got lost around mile 7, and ended up off trail. By the time we found our self back on course we were about .6 miles behind where we should be (we were at 8.9 miles while the rest of the group we were on course with was only at 8.3 miles). Just a minor set back, we had been on track for a 2:17 estimated finish we figured now probably 2:20-2:25. No pressure just a fun trail run so we kept going and embracing the beauty of the trail.
We hit a spot around 10 miles that my friend Jess starting struggling mentally a bit. The trails can challenging and she was getting in her head about being tired and sore, and that extra .6 miles we ran. We stopped and took a picture to lighten the mood and remember we were out there to enjoy ourselves, we chose to be there!
Sure enough we took off strong after that stop passed people left and right... but then, with only 1'2 mile to go - she tripped. She tripped and fell right on her face! I don't even know how it happened but it was bad! Jess ended up with a good shiner, and a blackened finger. She picked herself up, and sprinted the final half mile. I have never been so impressed! She finished that race so strong it was inspiring. When you feel like you cannot go on, when you fall, when you hurt, you push forward!