Tuesday, April 18, 2017

River N Rapids Half Marathon

Hillsborough River State Park, April 8, 2017
Half #74

I signed up for this race as part of a 3 race series, long before I signed up for the half ironman. With a little over a month until my big race, I wasn't sure I should be running a trail half. Specially when I found out this was a technical trail, much harder then the other trail race that is held here in December. I decided to go for it. I planned on taking it easy and not "race" it. It was a solo trip for me, so I left my house early, giving myself an hour for drive time and 45 minutes to hang out. I got up there in good time, walked over to the main building for packet pickup. I ran into Brenda there. It was good to see her. We both checked out the large map of the course. There were 3 trail loops that we would run on. Going through the entire course twice. Kip, the race director, is pretty good at marking the trails, so I decided to just have faith that I wouldn't get lost! I went to my car to finish getting ready, then hit the bathroom, before walking to the start area 10 minutes before the start. As I stood there, I noticed the timing mat. I felt my bib and discovered to timing strip on there. I looked at other runners feet and ankles to see if they had timing chips or straps. Yep, timing chips on shoes. Crap! I ran back to the packet pickup building, got my chip, then ran back to the start line with about 30 seconds to spare before we were off!

We ran a little loop near the packet pickup building before heading over the bridge to the trails on the other side of the river. Right away we were on single track trails. It was hard to get around anyone. We were all single file, trying to avoid the many roots. I managed to get around a couple of people, before I got stuck behind this one guy. He would not budge. As I was meant to take it easy today, I decided just to follow behind him. The trail was beautiful! We ran along the trail, next to the river, for quite a while. Just after mile two, I was still stuck behind that guy, and was looking for a way to get around him. I wasn't paying enough attention to the ground in front of me. My left foot landed on the side of a root, twisting my ankle towards the ground. Ouch!! I hopped off to the side of the trail, limping, but letting others pass. A couple of nice people asked if I was ok. I said I would just walk it off. The big group all passed, so I was able to walk on the main trail, letting someone pass by, every once in a while. I walked for a few minutes, then stopped and rolled my foot around. It was starting to feel a bit better. I saw some teenagers heading my way, so I decided to try to run again, before I got stuck behind them. I slowly got back into running strongly. Feeling better by the time we finished this first loop. The first big loop, was just over 3 miles.

The next loop was small, only a mile. We had to run this twice in the first go around and then twice again later. There was a volunteer standing at the suspension bridge, asking each of us if we had run the loop once already. I ran that twice, then headed over the bridge. That was fun. It was bouncy!
Back on the other side of the river, the trail was less technical. We got to run on a few wooden walk ways. It was beautiful! There was a short out and back, with a water stop at the end, before we made our way back to the finish area and then off for our second time on the course. This is when the course was less crowded. as the 5K and 10K runners headed to the finish. I passed a couple of women, once the trail got wide enough. Then I ran over the bridge, back to the rooty trail. I was cruising along, taking photos with my GoPro. No runners in sight. It was very peaceful. I took my eye off of the trail for a second, to look at the river, when SLAM, my body hit the ground HARD! My GoPro flew out of my right hand, into the bushes. I got up, dusted myself off a bit, found my camera, then walked a little, assessing the damage. I didn't feel to bad. My ankle was still tender, and my wrist hurt, but otherwise, I felt fine! I decided to stop taking so many photos and concentrate on the trail. This second go around, I felt like the loop took forever! Just when I thought that I might have been lost, I would see another race flag. Finally, I made it to the junction of this trail and the next one. So happy to be done with the hardest trail! I ran the next one twice, headed over the bouncy bridge, then onto the final loop.
Heading towards the finish!

I felt a second wind coming on, as the trail got easier. I passed a few runners, which gave me a bit of a boost. Once I got to the last aid station, with a mile to go, I picked up the pace even more. Finally, I saw the finish line ahead, made the sharp left turn and ran hard to the finish!

Finish: 2:19:47
2nd in age group

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