Well, that race didn’t quite go as planned.
I found a 5K trail run that I REALLY wanted to participate in (since we know how much I’ve grown to love trail runs), but Eric had a convention. Luckily, a few friends were up for the challenge, so we registered for the XTERRA Trout Creek 5K trail run. I had just run the Gasparilla 5+3K one week prior, so this was going to be a fun, low expectation run for me – scenic, shorter, with friends. Little did I know that this would be the most…well…arduous race of my blossoming running career.
We arrived at the Wilderness Park – Trout Creek site, picked up our registration packets, and followed the crowd (and signs) to the Start line, which happened to be located immediately at the bottom of an elevated berm. About 2 minutes prior to the start of the race, I began fumbling with my iPod – setting the music, setting the distance, etc. I set the music, then hoped for a race countdown before activating the Nike Sport sensor. Unfortunately, the countdown never came, so when the race began, I was still fumbling to activate it, but I was doing so while going up a steep hill. Steph moved ahead from the start, faster than me and not hindered by her Garmin. On the way up, I thought I was having a conversation with Michelle, but when we got to the top, I looked over and I was actually conversing with myself.
At the top of the berm, the course split and 15K-ers went to the left while the 5K-ers went to the right. We (5K-ers) stayed on a sand/gravel trail for about a mile before turning off through the trail. I had settled into my pace and I maintained the same distance behind Steph for about 2/3 of the race (it was nice to have a human speed gauge – Eric usually takes off and I get to talk to him again 28-29 minutes later), although I did have another unfortunate encounter with the water stop on the way into the woods. There was one person manning the water stop. I knew that both Gatorade and water were available, but I noticed that the liquid in the cup he was holding out toward me was yellow. As I was approaching him, I said “Water”. He said, “No, this is Gatorade”. I said, “I know – Water”? He said, “Oh, water” and proceeded to lean toward the water cups. By the time he got the water, I had to slow to a crawl to avoid passing him.
So, I made my way into the woods. The crowd thinned and the trail narrowed. I was enjoying the scenery and winding trail, but I remained cognizant of my surroundings. It rained all night before the race, so the course was wet and the leaves were slippery. I opted to wear the Vibram Sprints because I prefer to wear wet Sprints over wet Bikilas. I was navigating the tree roots, wet leaves, and brush well. I must have gotten too comfortable because all of a sudden, I was attacked by a tree root. I never actually saw said tree root. I have no recollection of it. All I remember is feeling like I stubbed my toe and got it caught a little. Then it took me down. I fell forward and popped back up quickly, barely breaking my stride. I immediately thought of Eric because he tripped on a root during our last trail race and cut up his toe. However, he also said that he didn’t feel pain in his toe until he finished the race. I, on the other hand, felt pain – a lot of it. I continued running (with occasional hopping), playing mind games with myself, trying to convince myself that the reason I was in pain was because I just didn’t have enough adrenaline racing through me. I had that conversation in my head all the way through the last mile to the finish line. I barely even saw the finish line (I was quite engrossed in the conversation in my head), but I heard Steph rooting for me, so I followed her sound and was handed a time card and a water canteen by the race volunteers, so I figured I was finished (and I knew I was among the top 25 females, since I had the canteen).
Since Eric fell a few races ago, we now bring a pair of flip flops to each race in case we, say, hurt a toe or something. I hobbled over to the car to change my shoes. My toe didn’t look too bad. It wasn’t bleeding. It was a little puffy, but nothing to write home about. I could barely walk on it, but no worries. We hobbled back to meet up with Michelle, scope out the food, and exchange trail stories. We also came to the conclusion, based on our race histories, our pedometers, and our projected finish times, that the course was absolutely longer than 5 kilometers. Even running the last mile with a broken toe, there is no way that my time was 30:41 for 3.1 miles (I’m not just being competitive – many people commented on the course distance being off for both the 5K and 15K).
So, now I’m left with a foot boot, significant pain, and fond memories of 2/3 of the race. Any suggestions on activities for the next month or so while my toe puts itself back together? I can do upper body kung fu, right?
Originally posted on March 8, 2011 on MicheleAndEricGetMarried.com.