|Jaguars teal. This may be the reason the Jags were dominant in their game the next day.|
and purchasing more varied running food than I typically use:
|Mmm, look at the appetizing variety!|
It was a comfortable 65 degrees at the start of the race. We set out on the very nice trails of Germantown Metro Park where we would complete a 7.75 mile loop of double track trails 4 times. The trails have periods where there are fairly steep hills and rocks/roots, but there are large flat sections too: all very runnable. I was shooting for 11 minute pace + a few minutes of wiggle room per lap with plan to reassess if needed. This pace was very comfortable for the first half of the lap, but the second half had some tougher hills and I started to wonder if my plan was reasonable. I finished the first lap in 1:26, right on pace, but expecting I would slow with the heat.
I finished the first lap as 5th female but got through the aid station quickly and started the second lap as 3rd female. I accepted that attempting to break 6 hours would likely back-fire in the heat and settled in to a plan to slow by a few minutes per lap. I finished the second lap with a total time of 2:56.
The course is set up with a short out and back to access the start/finish/aid station from the loop, so you get a glimpse of everyone within 4-5 minutes of you. The second place woman came out to start her third lap 4 minutes ahead of me running hard, and I knew if I tried to match that pace it would not go well for me. A few miles later I realized that I getting very hot, so I stopped to walk and eat for a few minutes and felt much better after. I finished lap 3 in 4:34. I didn't see anyone on the out and back section, which relieved me. There was no reason to push hard, I could just run consistently and likely maintain my position.
It was getting steadily hotter (it was 91 by the time I finished), so I gave myself carte blanche to walk up any and every hill on the 4th lap. About a mile from the finish, I saw Aneta who told me, "You're third female. She's about a minute ahead of you, so pick it up." Oh, man! I tried, I really did, but there were some big hills right after that and I suspect she was already past those by the time I saw Aneta. I was still pleased with a finish time of 6:11 for third female, 2 minutes behind Betsie who was second.
As it turned out, a woman had won the overall race (decisively so!) and my third place female was good enough for fifth overall! Perhaps the heat brought out some strengths among women. The original 2 lead men dropped out of the race, and I suspect the heat contributed to that.
Had the race been any longer, I would have needed to make some significant changes, especially with my salt intake. It was very minimal during the race and I started cramping as soon as I stopped. So I grabbed every source of salt I could find at the finish: gatorade, S-caps, potato chips, and once I cooled down a bit, even soup:
The race directors and volunteers were so supportive, some of them even learning my name to cheer me on in subsequent laps. The course was incredibly well marked. It was a low budget race with a lot of heart poured in; I loved it!
I felt tired but good for my easy 4 miles day (again in 90 degree heat) and am looking ahead now to the Stone Steps 50k as next training race for Blood Rock.