I will say it right up front. I don’t know what I was thinking signing up for a trail race just two weeks before the New York City Marathon but I did.
If you have not run a trail race it involves; running up rocky, rooty, leaf covered trails. There is mud, there are downed trees, there are boulders and single track paths. Sometimes there are foot bridges, open meadows and hills that seem almost vertical. It takes constant mental as well as physical concentration to constantly scan the ground ahead of you and quickly react to the inevitable trip and then perform the “catch yourself before you face plant dance or break something” move. The amount of times this happens over the course of the run is amazing. Standing at the finish line seeing bloody knees and limping bodies you can spot those who tripped and didn’t quite ”stick the landing”.
So why the hell would anyone do this? Well because it is SO much fun!
I ran my first and only trail race last spring. The leathermans Loop was a 10k with two waist high water crossings and a mud bog that claimed over a dozen sneakers and made you laugh as you tried to wade through the mess.
I knew these possibilities going in and I did it anyway. Run the Farm is the “Sister Race” to the Loop. No river crossings, seemed much tamer when I heard about it. I did not run it last fall because I did not know how I would feel one week after my first marathon. I really wanted to do it this year. So I registered. It was a beautiful day. Thankfully minimal mud and wet leaves.
You start in the barn yard of the farm, running right past the animals into the woods. There are no mile markers and water stops. Instead there is bag piper playing by a lake and Deer and rabbits running right with you. You run up and down the trail, looking for the opportunity to pass the person in front of you while not twisting your ankle. You hurdle trees and carefully straddle rock walls. Spectators only appear in the last half mile as you reenter the working farm and are greeted by the turkeys and pigs as well as the kids lining up to give you high fives. You are happy with a ten minute pace for the first time in years, knowing that trail race distances hold PR times all their own.
Luckily I came out of the race without a scratch. Hopefully I didn’t tempt fate and I get through these next two weeks healthy. Trail running is on the back burner until after November 4thbut I think it gave me that boost I need to get through these last two weeks before the marathon.