The Paris Mountain Trail Run today marked the end of my 2008 racing season. (Results for the trail run can be found at this link.)I’ll be 9 for 10 in the GTC Racing Series, and that’s a pretty good accomplishment for a semi-serious, semi-motivated rerunner. I give myself an A for effort…or would that be “semi-effort”? Either way.
I planned on wearing just my singlet and shorts today, but when we pulled into the parking lot everyone I saw was fastening their numbers onto jackets, sweatshirts, or fleece. I had a moment of panic–“is it really that cold?” before settling back down–“I’ll just BE a weirdo, then.” Cold tolerance usually has people guessing that I’m “not from around here.” Scott bought some of those nifty spandex sleeves you see the pros wearing, and he offered to let me borrow them so I could feel like Kara Goucher. Scott, of course, looks more like Ryan Hall. Anyway. I almost went with the sleeves to keep from standing out, but the realization that I’d only be comfortable in them for 2 minutes and then would be looking desperately for Scott so I could throw them off without throwing money away changed my mind. Besides that, I saw a few other “weirdos” embracing the cold as I was.
This was my first official “trail” race. I’ve run cross country races that have trails, but they’re generally not as rugged as the Paris Mountain trails. You know, more a smooth, sometimes-grassy, 10-feet wide path with a border of a trees. Less a narrow track studded with loose rocks and tree roots covered by slippery leaves. I loved these sorts of trails–so picturesque and outside the norm for me–until I got caught up in scenery-gazing one day, missed a tree root, and did a face plant like the total klutz I am. I had a bruise the size of a softball on my hip for weeks. The goal for this race was finishing unscathed. 🙂
I did tweak my ankle one time, and there was a brief period where I half convinced myself that I had stumbled onto the wrong trail. I looked ahead of me–no runners. I stopped and looked behind me–no runners. The thought, “I hope Scott finds me before sundown” crossed my mind before the trees parted and I could see the water station.
Past that, however, it was actually quite a bit of fun. Most people think of running as a “boring” activity, but I think that’s mostly because they’ve only ever tried running on a treadmill. Road is more entertaining than treadmill because it feels like there’s actually a purpose to the activity. Sure, I’ll end right back where I started from, but I covered distance. I’m not just a hamster on a wheel! Trail running, in its way, is even more entertaining than road running because you can’t put your legs on autopilot and start daydreaming. What does that get you on the trail? Faceplant? Absolutely.
The biggest surprise of the day came as I waiting for Scott to get down from the mountain. I was loitering near the awards and clapping for the recipients when the time came for my age group. As always, semi-optimism (definitely need a “semi” there) gripped me: “Well, you might have gotten third. You never know.” Third place is called: not me. Ah, well. That’s ok. Better luck next year. Etc. Etc. Then, they call second place: “MegaRunr.” Wow! Me? Are you sure?
This is only the second race of the year where I’ve gotten an age group award. And because the other race was very small and there were only two of us in the age group, I’m feeling a certain sense of accomplishment (and a definite sense of disbelief) that I managed to get an award. Even if said award is a pink bag to go with my pink shirt…ok, I really shouldn’t complain about that. The “awards that aren’t medals” concept is one of my favorites. The “t-shirts that aren’t grey/white” ranks right up there, too. Good stuff. I shouldn’t be ungrateful enough to complain just because I’m a weird girl who doesn’t like the color pink. Right.
One of the best stories I heard all day came from Scott. He took his “World’s Best Spectator” self up the mountain to try to get some good pictures. Once he got there, he realized the race director could use some help at the water station so he and another fellow stepped up to the plate. During his stint as impromptu volunteer, he saw a gentleman running with his dog. The guy’s number was pinned to the dog’s leash, so when the owner stopped for a drink of water Scott said, “the dog needs a drink, too!” and made sure the dog had his own cup to drink from. I wish I had a picture of that!
I do have a couple of other pictures…they’ll probably make this post really long, but that’s ok.