This past weekend I celebrated my birthday by running my first trail race. I had set out months in advance to complete a race on my birthday since it fell on a weekend. The only trail race I could find within a decent driving distance was the Bobcat, so I registered and never looked back. I knew that the weather could be absolutely horrendous, but that didn’t stop me. I wanted to have some fun and I wanted my husband and kids to be at the finish line when I was done.
The night before the race, the kids and I drove down to meet my husband at his work so the kids could see the big trucks. Then we met some friends for dinner. As we were driving on some very dark and twisty roads, we learned that our son gets car sick. So, pulling over, we striped him down, wiped him up and cleaned the car seat as best we could. Then we were back on our way to the lodge. I packed up my gear for the morning in hopes that I wouldn’t wake everyone up, but our son was up before my alarm even went off in the morning.
My friends and I had decided to hit the morning shuttle because the emails leading up to race day made it look like the shuttle would be full of people and we may have a hard time getting a spot. So, we opted to take the early shuttle and arrive to the start location an hour before we needed to be there. By doing this, we were going to need to stay warm and brought extra gear that we could through in our drop bags before the start of the race. Just incase you are considering running the bobcat, you don’t need to take the early shuttle. The second shuttle had just as many as the first- maybe even less. There were only 5 people that took the shuttle in the first trip *whomp whomp whomp*
At the start of the race we were given directions and then the bell was sounded to start. The first half mile was on a road before we meet our first hill. This hill was the start of a muddy mess. It was slick, but I made it to the top (walking of course). Once we hit the trail it was single track and fairly narrow. But, it was just slippery and muddy that even on the down hills you had to take them slow or you would lose your footing. This was the first 5 miles. There were lots of puddles, lots of mud suctioning off shoes, and lots of people falling. Luckily I didn’t fall or lose at shoe. But, I hit the aid station at mile 5 and the volunteers were telling everyone that we were at the water crossing. I was prepared for the water crossing and assumed it would be fairly deep based on the amount of rain that we had in the week leading up to the race. But, this was a river. There was a guy helping people into the water, but eventually he was getting too cold and decided to move on with his own race (I can’t blame him). He told myself and the person in front of me that it was just a step down. So, she stepped down and moved out of the way. Then I go to step down and completely fall in. Did I mention it was 29 degrees that morning and the water was COLD? I stood up and acknowledged that I was ok, but also let the guy know that it wasn’t just a step down. What could I do? So, I just moved on and kept going forward.
The last 8 miles were less mud but a lot more hills. I did my best to power hike the hills, but this will definitely be the area I focus on for the 50k and 50 miler that I will complete in 2019. Around mile 10.5 my husband sent me a text to see where I was at in the race. My phone was drained from the tracking app, so I had to shut it down. It took me nearly 3 minutes to respond to that message and I got really cold. I decided I wasn’t going to stop again for a text or phone call (sorry mom). I wanted to finish this race and get warm!
After three hours and twenty minutes, I crossed the finish line and was greeted by my husband and kiddos. Before we walked back into the lodge so that I could change, I tried to remove my shoes. But, the laces were frozen and I couldn’t get my right shoe off of my foot without a struggle. I went right in to change into warmer clothes and attempt to heat up.
My preparation for this race was the same as my other half marathons this year. Only difference, those races were all completed on roads. So, needless to say, I was under prepared. In fact, I felt completely out of shape as I was running. I knew that there would be hills during the race, but apparently didn’t realize just how many hills I would have to concur.
Overall, this was a wonderful way to spend the first half of my birthday! It was a great introduction to trail running and I definitely have things that I want to work on to improve. I’m very thankful that my husband and kiddos were at the finish line to see me and celebrate with me. I’m definitely looking forward to this year and what 2019 has in store for trail running!