Saturday, May 14, 2016

Thom B Trail Run 26K

This was my first time running the Thom B Trail Runs, which take place in Hammond Hill State Forest on the Finger Lakes and DEC trails. When I signed up last week, I didn't know anything about the race. But they had me at Ithaca. Because any trip there includes a stop at the Ithaca Bakery, which is the destination for deliciousness.

On Saturday morning, Bob, Alison, Steven, Mark, Todd and I piled into Fun Gus and headed out, arriving at the starting area (Camp Earth Connection) around 9am. After picking up our race bibs, Steven and I did a one mile warm-up, then we all lined up for the 10am start.

The course is a 13K loop, mostly single track, somewhat technical but very runable. There are 13K, 26K and 52K distance options. At the start, I wished I had registered for the 13K instead of the 26K. I had been sleeping A LOT all week, my body still recuperating from last weekend's shenanigans. But I figured this race would be good practice for Cayuga. And I could use more technical terrain and upness in my life, as I'm not very good at either.

The forecast had called for thunderstorms on Saturday, so it seemed like this would be a race against the weather more than the clock. I didn't care about my time, I just wanted to finish before the rains came. Lucky for us, the sun was out when we started and it was just about 60 degrees, perfect running weather. I was a little worried that it would be muddy, but it wasn't bad at all. The trails were really nice, especially the pine covered parts. Some of the uphills were deceptively long and gradual, but there were some nice downhills too. The start was a long uphill, but thankfully the finish was downhill.

The first loop went by fairly quickly. I just followed Alison the whole way. It was a little congested at the start, which I don't like but can usually tolerate. Today, though, I was just mentally tired and it started to irritate me. For a while we were running near this guy who was talking very loudly to his friend about some guy named Carl. Carl this and Carl that. Carl was great. Carl. Carl. Carl. I'm sure that Carl, whoever he is, really is great. But I was glad when the guy finally passed us and I didn't have to hear about him anymore. Sorry, Carl. We finished the first loop in about 1 hour 22 minutes by my watch. When we saw Steven cheering for us, after he totally crushed the 13K, I wished that I got to stop too. Well, only a little. I was feeling pretty good going out for the second loop, though my legs were starting to feel the cumulative effect of the hills.

Photo by Delana Spaulding

The trails were also harder/rockier than I'm used to I guess. The bottom of my left foot started to hurt a few miles into the second loop; it felt like there was a golf ball lodged under the ball of my foot. So that was not cool, but I just tried to ignore it. Some runs feel great, some runs feel less than great. But I've learned that if I let go of any judgments or expectations, I can just enjoy each run for what it is, a beautiful day in the woods, doing what I love with people I love. Even when there are aches and pains, even though I'll never be fast, I still get this feeling like this, this is what I'm made for, this is where I'm meant to be. I was, however, counting down the miles. 5 miles til bakery. 3 miles til bakery. 1 mile til bakery. Initially, time seemed to go faster on the second loop. And then much slower. I was just following the backs of Alison's calves and marveling at how good her hair looked. I'm sure mine was a sweaty mess. But finally we saw Steven cheering for us and we cruised downhill to the finish chute. I was very happy to stop running. And that there was still some chocolate milk left at the finish. We walked around a little, cheered on Bob as he finished, then Mark and I "ran" (more like a shuffle, for me anyway) back to Gus. We got there just as it started to rain, but soon it cleared back up again.

It was now time for the main event: bakery! We made a brief stop at the Ithaca farmer's market, which was very Ithaca-y and adorable. Everything smelled really good, but I couldn't make a decision on what to eat, so I just held out for the bakery. It was an excellent choice. Mmm...breakfast sandwich and peanut butter smoothie.

Another awesome adventure and Fun Gus roadtrip. Though we may have to change his name to Murderous Gus after he ran afoul of the fowl. Sadly, on the drive home, a duck smashed into his windshield, then bounced over the hood and became roadkill. I was lucky (that I wasn't driving. I would have totally freaked out). The duck was not so lucky a ducky. Sucky. RIP little dude.

Other than the duck incident, it was a wonderful day. The race was well organized, the course was well marked and the trails were challenging and awesome. One of these days it will be my time and I'll end up dead as that duck. Until then I'm going to live it up to the max, rain or shine, uphill or down, a sandwich in one hand and a PB smoothie in the other. 

Lyric of the moment: "And when we're bored we play in the woods. Always on the run from Captain Hook. Run, run, lost boy, they say to me, away from all of reality. Neverland is home to lost boys like me. And lost boys like me are free..." ~Ruth B "Lost Boy" (Because it was playing on repeat in my brain for the last few miles, distracting me from my sore feet)

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