Wake up early on a Saturday morning. Drink coffee. Pack bag with race clothes and stuff for after the race. Eat. Drink more coffee. Head out to the Munroe Falls Metro Park.
Arrive to 35 degrees and rain. It feels just like a spring bike race. Only it’s the OhioOutside.com Trail Series. Yes, running. I do just enough to be able to say “I do some running in the off-season.” Just enough to convince myself to attempt a race.
But even though my running would fall into the “casual” category, showing up at a race flips the competitive switch. I’m looking around, sizing up the competition even though I have no hope of being a top finisher.
When we take off at the start I forget that I should not try to stay with the front runners. It’s not a bike race. It’s hard to slow down and just let the fast guys go away. I very much want to try to stay with them, but they are out of sight on the trail pretty quickly.
When you don’t (run) race, how do you know what kind of pace you can hold? The best experience I can draw on is what it feels like to do a time trial on the bike. Which means: suffering that you can maintain without totally blowing up. So I imagine that I’m doing a TT. While at the same time trying not to fall over the roots, ruts, and down a slippery set of stairs (which almost happens).
I pass some people, then get passed by the top female runner at the start of the second loop. I manage to stay with her for a while, which lets me pass a few more people. But she powers away toward the end. Drafting just doesn’t work the same way when running.
I’m happy though. I somehow manage the fastest time for my age group and go home with 2 beer glasses and some packets of Gu. And legs that will surely be sore the next day.