This weekend I ran the Mendon Trail Run, a looped course that gives runners the option of a 10K, 20K, 30K or 50K. I opted for the reasonable 20K: almost a half marathon, but not too crazy.
I ran the first loop hard, sprinting the downhills and pushing up every hill. My heart rate spiked like crazy but I felt strong through the first 10K. I focused on my breathing and not falling over.
As soon as I started the second loop I felt my legs get heavy and my breathing got ragged. I put in my headphones but my phone battery died within a few minutes, and I was too tired to be distracted by music anyway. By two miles in I was in full freak-out mode: “Why didn’t I start slower? I’m going to have a heart attack! Running is stupid. My hydration pack makes me look fat. Fuck this!”
So I did what all good trail runners do. I walked, and I had a snack.
After a while, I felt better, so I trotted again. I walked the hills and ran the flats. Nothing like the first loop but I felt good coming into the finish. I finished in 2:16. I had dreamed of 2 hours, and feared that it would take 2:30, so that was a good compromise.
In one way, I suppose I “blew up” a little on this race. But after some reflection (and a long hard nap) I was pretty happy with it. I ran this race, if that makes sense. A lot of my races recently have just been for fun, to enjoy the day and the company of my friends. But this one was just for me. I went out hard and figured it out for myself.
Lessons learned: food is important. I needed more energy, and sooner. I did go out too hard, but I am stronger than I thought. I maintained a 10:00 mile over some pretty hilly terrain (see below) for a solid 6 miles, and that’s pretty awesome (for me).
PS I did fall on the second loop, but only a little.