Results (based on Guntime):
1h 25m (12:10 min per mile average)
Set the alarm for 6am, rolled over to switch off alarm, rolled back and something popped in my neck... Instant pain. That's a great way to start a day... Honestly, I felt like ditching the whole race right then. But of course (paid the entrance fee, part of a series... remember, you LOVE trail running!!!), I got up and got dressed... After consulting the weather forecast, I started digging into my pile with cold weather gear. Didn't need them thus far this year. Opened up the packaging for a pair of "Wollie Bullies" (woolen cycling socks) that I bought this spring at a winter clothing closeout... Go buy a pair for yourself NOW! Those things are AWESOME!
Got the doggie into her harness and geared up, because Terry decided last minute to be my sherpa and come along and this way, we got Karma's exercise for the day out of the way already too.
When we got to Paris Mountain State Park, it was still dark and needless to say, it was COLD. There actually was a line at the package pick-up, but it moved pretty fast. As soon as I got the package, we headed back to the car to stay warm.
Eventually, it was time to start!
Did I mentioned, that it was cold.... This was the first cold day of the year that I was out and about. My body sure wasn't used to that and let me know right from the start. I had slight difficulties breathing and probably should have warmed up some to avoid this. This time, we headed straight to the trail and didn't have to loop over the parking lot to string out the pack like we did in the 7K in August. The trail was a little wet in some spots, but overall it seemed to have less leaves on the ground than last year... That was good news and should make things a little easier.
I was extremely non aggressive in this race. Normally, I try to push the pace some in the first 2 miles before hitting Sulphur Springs Trail (steepest portion of the race), but this time, I just tucked in behind the person ahead of me and plugged along. I guess, I was a little too pre-occupied with finding a position were my neck and shoulders didn't hurt too much and also just hoping that breathing is going to get easier eventually... And it did.... Well, the breathing did, the neck... Oh well... It made a rough race - Nuff said.
Sulphur Springs Trail reminded me more than ever of a death march and it felt pretty hard that day again, but 18 something minutes for the second mile is actually not the worst I ever did on this piece of trail. Needless to say, I was very happy when I finally reached the top. The next mile would be fun! And it was, even though I was alone at times. I have no idea how that happened, since we have been one line of humanity snaking up Sulphur and a while after that, I didn't see anyone in front of me or anyone behind me. But before I was all alone, I actually was recognized by a fellow runner (Hi Beau!) that found my race report from last year when he was looking for some information about the race. We chatted a little bit, but at one point he took off looking strong!
Then it was time to run down on the other side of Sulphur again. This is also a very steep section and quite the ankle twister. Considering in how good of a shape my quads were the day after the race, I know, I didn't hammer down this piece as usual.... I guess, I was in full on "neck protection" mode.
Once we hit the bottom of Sulphur, I just tried to maintain a good pace and avoid to walk for the remainder of the race. Glad to see the finish line as usual, also if it bugged me a little that I was never able to catch that girl that was running a couple of hundred yards in front of me for most of the race.
After crossing the finish line, I was just instantly cold (felt fine during the race). This is the pancake run (they serve pancakes at the finish) and I didn't even want to wait in line for three minutes, but wanted to head out right away to grab a long hot shower.
Right before we left, I had the chance to quickly get caught up at friend's races (great jobs all around) and then we hightailed it home.
At home, I looked up my race time from last year at this race and saw that I ran it faster this year... a whopping 5 seconds.
I try not to be too disappointed about this... You know, the usual shoulda, coulda, whoulda... Too late now anyways.