3:52 - Got up and made coffee, ate french toast with turkey sausage
4:30 - Headed out the door to give myself time to find the place. I am terrible with directions so I wanted to be sure I planned accordingly. I also wanted to get there early to get a shirt in my size.
|Packing for the elements and the unknown|
|Coffee is a must at 3:30 am|
7:10 - Arrived and had to pee like nobody's business. Coffee and a jug of water will do that to you. When I got out of my car it was freezing cold! I was like thinking about why I decided to do this race.
7:15 - 7:30 - Waited in line to get inside to grab my registration materials. During this time I realized that my ankle was killing me. I had not had any injuries or aches in quite some time so I was not too happy. I later realized I am just getting old and my joints need time to warm up.
7:45 - 8:00 - Went back to my car, blasted the heat and put on my bib and timing chip. Finally, I just sucked it up and went outside. I did not drive 2.5 hours to sit in my vehicle.
8:00 - I went out for a warm up run. I did 1 mile, but stopped along the way to check out the Living History Farms, the water, the hills, etc. I had a blast just exploring. This helped me warm up. I am glad I did this because I was bundled up and I was able to find out that I did not need all the clothes I had on.
|Me contemplating the hills and water on warm up run|
|One of the many creeks to cross|
|Hills like these just kill the legs after 4-5 miles of running|
|I ran this as warm up to prep for the race.|
|Seeing coffee, pumpkin bars, cookies, chocolate, donuts before the race almost made me not race and just eat!|
8:25 - Final stop at car to shed clothes. I ended up running in shorts and long sleeve compression shirt. Made my way to the starting chute. There were 7500 runners and tons of spectators.
9:00 - The race began.
This race was awesome. I ran way better than expected. My goal was to try and run a 8:00 mile pace overall. This means I would have to run faster than 8:00 to accomodate the creeks and hill climbs. I was not sure if this was going to be feasible as I learned from doing the Governor's Run a few weeks back that I am not trained for off terrain runs. Also, I have not ran 7 miles or more since October 25th. It has been about a month since I have ran 7 miles, let alone on farm land, hills, forests, mud, and creeks.
I ended up running 55:42 for my official time. I finished 347th overall and 39th in my division. There was not a mat at the start so everyone started with the same start time no matter when you actually go to the starting line. I started my Garmin right before the start and my time on my watch was 54:45. I spent at least the first minute at a walk or super slow jog. You can see the image above of the start. It is hard to see, but this mass of people goes on forever.
My mile pace ended up being 7:49. I was quite surprised. I was not expecting to run this pace. I jumped out fast. There were a lot of fast runners. I started off mile 1 at a 7:49 pace. I looked at my watch and thought "Oh boy!". I knew I started slow due to the amount of people. To have this mile time for mile 1 meant I must have been moving way faster than planned to have this mile split. Mile 2 I ran 7:28. At this point I was feeling fantastic, but in the back of my mind I knew I was going to hit a wall. Being my last race of the year I thought I would just push to see what I had. Mile 3 was where we finally hit the first creek. Up to this point we were running in fields, farmland, and some small timber. Mile 3 I was cruising even fast at 7:05. This was stupid. I was so caught up with the people. I could not believe how fast everyone was so I just tried to maintain my groove. The first creek was a nice depth and it quickly froze the toes and legs. Running in wet shoes is always an unique experience.
Mile 4 I started to slow down as we made our way into the forests and trying to follow a small path. I was still cruising at 7:36. From here we hit a major hill/bank and some creeks and this wiped me out. We were also doing some serious up and down climbing so I slowed to 8:11 for mile 5. This was to be expected with my previous pace and also due to the terrain. Mile 6 I dropped even more to 8:31. There were more creeks and nothing was easy about this mile. I started to hit the wall I was dreading. I fought through it. Mile 7 was creek heavy. There was water it seemed like all the time with a nice long slowly increasing hill in a field to get us back to the finish. I knocked out mile 7 in 8:00. I was gassed. I had nothing left.
|Just a little mud remains on the face!|
|Post race food was the best!|
|Is there a better reward?|
|Spectators and fans were everywhere!|
|This bib will be a reminder of the great times of this race.|
|Can you tell where my shoes and mud met?|
This was a fantastic race. I loved it. I am enjoying the trail runs more and more. The 7 miles flew by as you are always checking out your next step, the landscape, or watching other runners. I was a muddy mess. At one creek crossing the bank to get back on the path was about 10-12 feet high. The runner in front of me lost his grip and flung so much mud right in my face. I only had to laugh.
I was very happy with my time. I have progressed so much as a runner. Being that I have not been following a plan or any structure the last month or so I will take this time. I wonder had I been following a plan of some sort how much faster I could have gone. I looked up my Bix time from this summer and I remember being so impressed with myself running that race in 52:36. This race I was only a few minutes off of that with a landscape much different and a workout that did not exist.
This is why I race. I don't always feel like I am making gains during my training, but signing up for races allows me to see my progression. I will be signing up for this race again next year. It was well put together. The spectators were awesome. They were everywhere and cheered for everyone.
I was quite sore when I got home after sitting in the car for 2.5 hours. I did take a power nap. GETTING IT DONE! was accomplished again.
347 39 M30 Aaron Maurer, 30, Bettendorf, IA 55:42