Saturday, March 10, 2012

I have been humbled by a trail half marathon

Let me just say I have some serious respect for people who can run single track, trails, roots/rocks, cliffs, 12 foot wide mud puddles and the like. I had no idea how hard it is to run when every footstep is a challenge.

I love asphalt. I miss you.

So I decided to run the Roanoke Canal Half Marathon today. It's a trail race. But the website said it wasn't a bad trail. (I beg to differ!) But based on the what I thought would be an easy race I had a 2 goals:

1. To win it
2. to PR with a 1:27 (1:28:05 is my current pr)

Conditions: 35 degrees, some wind harder at times, deep mud at times from rain the day before.

Fail and fail. That was my worst race to date time wise, but probably the most effort I've had to put out in a race ever. Which is still shocking me because I felt great. I'm in good shape. I didn't have any handicaps to speak of.

Clearly, there is skill involved in running on a mud soaked trail that I do not possess. I can't explain how mentally difficult it is to STOP and decide the best way to get around a huge deep puddle or how the run down a 7 foot cliff and then back up??!! Seriously, you can't run off a cliff but you can dig your mittens into the wall of dirt to help you back out. That is NOT my type of running. I used my hands waaaay too much. Other people were bloody. WTF???
my brooks!!

Within the first 10 minutes of the race I knew a pr wasn't going to happen. By mile 5 I felt like I was risking injury and being stupid. By mile 8 I wanted to walk. By mile 12 I'm could have arguably been walking given my pace at that point.

I am still stunned at the difficulty or maybe just the lack of skill I have at running trails in general. I normally run mindlessly. This was constant stress. I mean what do you do when the sun is in your eyes and you can't see where you're stepping. I've never had this issue, ever! Asphalt is loyal and predictable.

So, I did my best and sucked it up and finished the race. I was truly never so happy to see a race end. I had a 7:45 split at one point. WTH??! All I did was say "fu*k" for 13.1 miles and hope for the best. Actually, not even. It was short per my garmin.

The GOOD part: I saw some friends and ran into one girl I see on the greenway everyday but have never talked to. Very cool. Awesome people and a nice post race scene.

Here's my garmin. My time was 1:33 and I was second female overall. 9th if you add the boys in. I won a cool pint glass and a bottle of wine.

It was an experience that I will always remember yet never repeat. I will stick to the roads and WIDE dirt paths.

Happy running friends!


  1. Great job regardless! Way to hang in there and overcome!

  2. still a good run. variety is the spice of life. now get ready for that marathon on asphalt

  3. Hahahaaha I detest trail races too! I once ran a 10 miler in 1:17 when my pr is 52:40 lmao! I hate them hahaha

    1. ok, noooow I feel better Benny! In fact I might even feel a little talented. haha. We were just road runners lost in the sticks. boooo!

  4. I love the trail and the more single track the better... so get yourself a pair of trail shoes and train a bit on the trails and it will become easy...

    I always think: run on the tar with the cars and no view, or run on the mountain with views to die for...

    1. ya know, I thought of you coach dion while I was running. And I have no FLIPPEN idea how you do it!! Rock on friend!

  5. Laura . . . you crack me up! Just embrace the mud and forget the time! Trails are for fun! You did GREAT!

  6. Laura - I ran the same race this past weekend and was hating it three miles into the race. The description online is not even close to an accurate description. It was an experience to say the least and I don't think I'll be signing up for that one again. Congrats on your 2nd place finish!!!

    1. Tracie! Thank you for the confirmation!! That was a very difficult race. Not just the mud but the hairpin turns, crossing the street etc. I'm with you in that it said an out and back "not really a trail" type of race and that is not accurate! Lesson learned and now I see with the course record is 1:33. Yikes! Well good job for sticking it out. See you on the roads!

  7. Hi Laura. Thanks for coming from Raleigh to run. You really had an impressive day, and seemed to handle to trails far better than you are giving yourself credit for. Hope you enjoy the wine, and can put the pint glass to some good use.

    Michael (the Race Director)