Three years ago I ran my first 5k road race, the Monster Dash. A week later I ran my second 5k the Anything Is Possible 5k, a race started ten minutes before the clocks are set backwards an hour at 1:50 AM. Since my first Anything Is Possible 5k three years ago, I have ran this race every year including this year. Last year I ran another 5k the same day, running two 5k’s in a few hours. I remember the exhaustion and muscle soreness that accompanied both runs. This year the Anything Is Possible 5k race fell in the middle of my training for my 50k race training which required about 15-16 miles of running. So I figured I would string together an afternoon trail run and then later run the 5k race, getting my required training mileage. This of course resulted in a crazy long Saturday/Sunday that included a ten mile snowy trail run, a quick shower at the gym, a stop at a bar for socializing and packet pickup, dinner at a Mexican Restaurant ,a movie and a 5k race road race… One crazy day!
On Friday afternoon the weather channel started to report snow falling in the northern mountainous portions of the state. I figured where I wanted to run, the Gahuti trail, would not be hit by the snow because it was a bit further south than the areas being hit, so i headed up to the Fort Mountain State park Gahuti trail late Saturday morning. I planned for all weather contingencies, figuring that running in the cold would further help me to prepare and strategize my clothing options for my 50k which could have similar weather on race day. When I got to the park I realized I would be testing out running trails in snow cover as every inch of space was covered in a layer of white snow.
I put on three layers of shirts, a pair of tights and a warm hat and got underway. I knew the trail would be difficult to navigate, especially in the sections with steep root laden and loose rock field slopes. I had attempted the Mystery Mountain Marathon on this same course after a major rain the night before. I knew the trail would prove challenging, but I wanted the extreme exercise the challenge would bring. I did not push for time, just focused on not loosing my feet from under me as the snow made the leaf cover even slipperier then when it was just wet. The most challenging sections were the down hills, often which I found myself nearly succumbing to gravity on my bottom too many times. After a bit I started to feel the outside of my knee twinge a bit, I had probably hyper-extended it while sliding down hill.
One of the cool things about running on this snow covered trail was the lack of others on the trail. Because I was pretty much the only person running the trails the snow laid pristine and untouched on top of the leaves and ground cover. Often as i ran my body brushed leaves arching over the trail, which would deposit their snow onto me. The mixture of fall leaf colors mixed with the blanket white snow proved an awesome picturesque backdrop for this run. In the end I finished about ten miles and had to call the run done due to time. I knew I would barely have time to get to the gym before they closed so I could shower and clean up.
Dinner and a Movie
I planned on showering and cleaning up at the gym because packet pickup started at 8 Pm. I lived a bit far away from the race so I had planned to hang out, getting dinner and seeing a movie before the 1:50 AM race start. After my shower at the gym I went to packet pick up and socialized a while. My friend that usually joins me had gotten sick so I was flying solo for my big night out. I eventually made my way to the Mexican restaurant and followed it up with a movie. I knew the movie would take up my time, leaving me an hour and a half before the start of the race.
The movie theater was across from the start of the race, which ran a circular route around a local mall. I parked my car and put on my running clothes. I was eager to run again, especially after I could feel the muscles tightening up during the movie. I found my friends and hung out for a while. I was not worried about this race as I had nothing riding on it, I was running it for fun. The idea behind this 5k was to be running while the clock moved backward, thus giving a negative time. After hanging out for a bit, 1:50 AM crawled closer. It was time to run again.
As the gun went off the crowd surged forward, the 5k was starting. I crossed the starting line and let myself get into a rhythm. My pace was slow as my legs were a bit tight, but I just stuck to my pace and kept pushing forward. My goal was to run the entire 5k without stopping and aim for a reasonable time in the process. I was unsure what I could do after running ten very technically difficult snowy trail miles earlier. I remembered my experience from my recent running race, Ragnar Tennessee. I felt strong on my running legs and the last two legs I was able to push my pace and speed harder than I had done in previous races. While my times were not stellar, they were some of my best recent running performances. I pushed myself to the edge of comfort and fought to stay there as long as possible. At the end of the second mile my legs finally loosened up allowing me to push my speed for the final mile.
- 2012: 00:44:50
- 2013: 00:41:31
- 2014: 00:41:21
I think reducing my time by twenty seconds in a year, especially with a really difficult earlier trail run is pretty good. My focus has been on the longer runs, often greater than twenty miles and usually longer than three hours. So overall I am pleased with my progression over the past three years. Its slower than I would prefer, but some progress is better than none.
After the race,I joined up with my friends for late night pancakes and some good laughs. We all laughed and chatted, enjoying the small party we formed, whiling away the morning. As I drove home I was happy with my running and racing for the day.
Til next time.