I awoke Saturday morning feeling terrible. I’d been hit hard by this stupid virus. My sinuses were pounding, my throat swollen and my chest afire.
Saturday morning was also the Trail of Hope 5K/10K at Skidaway Island State Park.
This was not good.
I hit snooze twice. J told me not to sweat it; there would be other races. True. But I wanted to run this. It was my first race post-babies. And I paid for the race, which is a big motivator. I pushed myself out of bed and promised myself that if I still felt terrible after a cup of coffee and brushing my teeth, I’d go back to bed.
And as it usually happens, I felt a lot better after I started moving. Not great – not ideal – but better. I dragged J out from under the warm covers and told him the run was on.
I loaded the pockets of my running jacket with about 60 tissues and a comparable number of cough drops.
As we were making the 30 minute drive to the park, a funny thing happened. More “funny/uh-oh” than “funny/ha-ha.”
I was driving, trying not to think about my runny nose when J said, “So, a trail run. That’s pretty exciting. The trails out there are really gorgeous. I’m sort of jealous…”
He went on to talk about the state park its great campsites but all I heard was “trail run.”
Wait, a trail run?
Apparently I missed the whole “trail” part of “Trail of Hope.”
Not a big deal. But it suddenly seemed like a huge deal. A typical 5K road race isn’t much when you’re used to running six or seven miles but trail running is an entirely different beast. The surface is different. There are roots and tree limbs and sand just waiting to trip you.
This did not feel like a good idea.
But there was no turning back.
The kid’s run started at 7:45 a.m. and we arrived around 7:30 which gave us plenty of time to park, pee, say hello to familiar faces and get two very sleepy and cranky girls situated.
Even though E is feeling much better, she’s still a bit “off.” She’s lethargic and feeling a bit emotional. I wasn’t sure she’d be up for the kid’s run but she was really excited lined up.
This lasted, oh, maybe 50 feet before the rest of the pack pulled away and E was left behind. Tears ensued and daddy caught up to rescue her. She was devastated that she didn’t get to go across the finish line. Melted this Momma’s heart.
There wasn’t much time for coddling because the racers were called to line up. Last minute announcements were made along with a special reminder to us novice trail runners to watch for roots, stumps and gravel. Duly noted. No nerves here. No sir.
With that, we were off.
The race wasn’t overly crowded and I placed myself solidly in the middle of the pack. Even so, there was a lot of bobbing and weaving around other runners before I found a comfortable spot and pace.
The first half mile or so was through a quiet campsite and a few campers came out to cheer and give an encouraging smile. We turned onto the sand/gravel trail and the group thinned significantly. For the most part, I started and finished the trail portion of the race with the same runners.
I was repeating to myself, “do not fall, do not fall, do not fall” as I navigated over raised tree roots when the runner in front of me took quite the tumble. She wasn’t injured and actually fell quite gracefully but it still messed with my head. But you do what you do, and you just keep running.
The trail was pretty narrow and wasn’t marked well at some points. I tried not to over-think it and kept my eyes on the few feet in front of me. The trail took a strange turn down another short trail before runners turned around a sign and head back to the main trail and back to the paved road. Strange, but mileage is mileage.
Can we talk for a minute about how hard it is to blow your nose when running? Not so much the actual act but the juggling of tissues, the separation of clean and used tissues – all while being careful not to drop cough drop wrappers on the trail. I felt rude not high-fiving race support but, trust me folks, y’all don’t want to touch my snotty, slimy hands.
Back to the course.
Once I hit the road again, it was around 2.6 miles and I was relieved to have survived the trail portion. The trail slowed my pace my almost a mile at some points so I was eager to pick it up.
When I came into the home stretch, I saw J and the girls waiting and cheering for me. I started waving and yelling like the crazy Momma I am. It was so good to see them.
When I made the final turn towards the finish line, E was going nuts. She was so excited. I remembered how sad she was that she didn’t get to go under the arch and cross the finish line with the other kids, so I waved her out to meet me and we finished the race together.
Having E finish with me slowed my time by maybe 15 seconds but I didn’t care. She had so much fun and having my girl experience that was more rewarding than a better time.
:::Cue sappy music and notify the Hallmark Channel. Made for tv moment right here.:::
E got the sweetest medal for the kids run and she is obsessed. She calls it “her gold” and will not take it off her neck.
My official time was 29:30 which was 32nd overall, 12th female and 6th in my age group. Not amazing but I was pleased with my time considering I was so not prepared for a trail run and I was running while sick.
My pace was all over the place. My splits were 9:05, 10:00, 9:31 and 8:39. I’m just a portrait of consistency. I blame the trail.
Regardless of it all, I’m really glad that I had the chance to run this race. It was the perfect size of a race and the course was beautiful. Covenant Care Services does amazing work and I’m glad I was able to support them. All of the volunteers were incredibly helpful and the post-race snacks, coffee and information was excellent.
Next up is the Color Run on December 8 and the Reindeer Run on December 15. That’s probably it until January unless Santa and his elves plan on sponsoring some additional races.
How was your weekend? Any must-run races in the southeast?