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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spillway Classic trail 3 miler

I decided to carefully run the Spillway Classic, since it is just a 5k and it's slow and easy - it's on the trail. It sounded safe, and I promised to take it easy.

Timing for the race was going to be an issue: It started at 8 am in Norco, a good 35 minutes from the house, but I have church at 9:30. I'd have to run the race, drive home, shower, and get to church in an hour and a half. It would be cutting it close, but I thought I could do it. I left the house at almost 7, but that cut it a little close. The parking at the spillway was a mess, with no one really directing to the open lots, and plenty of cars parking on the roads or in very muddy fields. I found a spot, but then packet pick up was a mess, too - as usual at NOTC races, there wasn't any good signage, and for some reason the line for pre-registered runners was separated into n-z, a-e, and that order. Not surprisingly, everyone was in the wrong line! I don't know why the track club doesn't invest in some whiteboard signs that they can put up where the line forms to tell runners which line they are in. But I got my number and had time to get in a mile and a half warmup before the start...because it was delayed. Of course. The packet pick up was such a mess that the race start was postponed, which meant that I was REALLY cutting it close for church!

I knew from experience that position matters in this race: it starts on a narrow levee for a mile, then you descend into the swampy woods and a narrow trail. It's really hard to pass on the trail, and the levee can be crowded, too. So I lined up closer to the front than usual. I planned to go hard on the levee (well, as hard as I could, since it is dirt and large gravel and I was in flats!), and then pick and stomp through the mud as best as I could. I sprinted out with the gun, but I was definitely not close to the start for the girls: I was probably 9th or so along the levee. Mile one beeped at 6:27, which was perfect.

The levee was hot, hot, hot, and pretty rough on my feet. I knew it was my only chance for speed, though - the woods were definitely going to be really messy as we've had a lot of rain recently. Sure enough, by the time we turned and charged down the slippery levee into the swamp, I could already hear the splashes of runners ahead of me.
That's my teammate in the white hat, and I'm behind him in orange putting my shoes back on!

Immediately, we were in a puddle over my knees. And immediately, I regretted my shoe choice. I was wearing my old Musha flats, saved just for this purpose: I'd never wear shoes I want to keep to this race! But the mud sucked them right off my feet. Luckily, I managed to hang on with my toes and shoved them back on rather than lose them forever in the muck. I trudged through, and was rewarded by semi-dry trails ahead. Man, was I winded after that! And the toes of my shoes were full of packed mud. The rest of the first mile was sort of dry; at least, it was more mud than water. I had gotten a little separated retrieving my shoes in the first big puddle, and I followed the guy in front of course! Luckily we both realized it, not too late to cut through the woods and rejoin the race. I'd lost my position by several runners, including one girl I saw far ahead, so by now I assumed I was way back. The first big puddle cost me - mile 2 was 8:29.
We had several more puddles to wade before we were over, and then the hot run on the grass to the finish. Mile 3 was 8:17.
Emerging from puddle #1
I was a little annoyed at myself at the finish for not sprinting it in. I am still in recovery mode, but I was only seconds behind the girl in front of me, and should have tried to catch her - especially when I figured out that I was closer to the front than I thought. Several girls got lost! I finished in 23:17 gun time. I'm not sure my exact place, but I won my age group. I was covered in mud (although I caught myself and prevented any outright falls during the race), and ran over to the fire trucks to shower off. Then I jogged to the car, toweled off, put my shoes in a bag, and drove home. Somehow, I managed to shower and walk to church on time for the 9:30 start! I was still pouring sweat, but I made it!
#proof (although, really, I suppose I could have taken this at any time, haha)
I was happy with today's race, for the most part. I ran the best I could on the trails, didn't fall, had a solid first mile, and didn't hurt. It will still be a long road back to racing fitness, but I think this was a safe race with which to ease back in.


  1. Haha, I've never done a race with water like that, I can't even imagine!

  2. That swamp is crazy! Pretty impressive that you were able to hold anything resembling running pace through that. Who needs contrived Tough Mudders when you have the real thing? Haha

  3. Holy smokes, woman! You ran 23:17 in THAT??? That's like super human. I love that you did this. Congrats!

  4. Dang. That is an amazing time for a course with those kind of crazy conditions. Insane. I might have quit when I saw deep water like that!!!