Triple Crown Series Event 2 – Eagle Creek 8K
My husband asked me what I thought trail running was, I said, “I don’t know, in a park on a paved trail?” You see, my first experience with nature walking was on the bike path next to my neighborhood that my parents told me to never go on without them… Naturally I was out there all the time walking to the park, walking to the bowling alley, walking to the post office, blockbuster, etc. But I figured it was a trail because it was in the woods. My next experience with Nature Trails the Monon (paved) and a couple of Nature Parks which all have paved trails. So when I heard 8K trail run, I figured some paved park running with some pretty scenery. If you know me, that’s about as one with nature as I get. Boy was I in for a rude awakening…
Jutting rocks, large roots, low hanging branches and tree limbs, fallen down trees, mud holes, tall grass, land bridges, stairs made out of landscaping timbers, two sets of steep stairs, steep hills, gravel path, mud path, and trees so thick you couldn’t see the sky… Seriously, it felt like I was running in The Hunger Games (minus all the tributes trying to kill me and the muttations) but you get my drift.
I honestly had no idea what to expect since this was my first trail run. Once I got out in the trenches, the goal was not to win, but to finish unscathed. The first mile I was thinking to myself, What have I gotten myself into… as we were running practically single file on the dirt trail. I come to the first little mud spot, which I easily maneuvered myself around. I figured that was the mud spot the MC was talking about, but then I came to a second mud spot which was a little bit bigger than the first. Now I’m in the clear. That wasn’t so bad, what was that guy talking about? Whoopsie – he wasn’t talking about either of those. When I saw the mud hole, I knew there was no going around it. It was the width of the entire trail (about 4 people wide) and equally as long. Even if you went around the perimeter of it like I did, your shoes were still being eaten up by the mud. It felt like walking through the swamp, your shoes making sucking sounds as you pulled it out of the mud. So much for clean shoes. Then we ran through tall grass. All I could think was, Please no snakes, please no snakes, please no snakes. There weren’t any snakes, thank goodness! We came to a clearing, crossed the street, and back to the trail and that was only the FIRST MILE!
Second mile was not any easier. There were a couple of broken tree limbs (not little ones, but ones that took up the whole path) that I had to hurdle over. It was then that I noticed that this was the kind of race that you needed to be able to look down, look to your sides, and look up to make sure you weren’t going to trip, knock your head, or slam into something. A couple guys passed me taking thin branches to the face… no thanks, I’m good. I don’t need to pass anyone. Getting hit in the face by nature is not my idea of a good time. I guess I’m not that hard core. We come to a part where the path is so thin that only one person can fit at a time and to the right is a creek. I’m silently saying to myself, please don’t collapse, please don’t collapse, please don’t collapse… Whew! I made it through that part and up the hill I went.
Mile three had this HUGE tree branch that had grown in a funky arch. It was too high to jump over, but to low to just run underneath. You literally had to crouch down and duck under it. I felt sorry for the tall folks in this race, but not as sorry as I felt for myself when I saw the set of stairs that loomed ahead. Really? I had visions of Bop to the Top come in my head. But, I put my big girl pants on and ran up those stairs one at time, one foot in front of the other. I was not walking in this race.
I don’t remember much of mile 4 except that I was muddy and wondering how I was going to clean my sneakers when I got home.
Then I could hear the finish line music. There is something about hearing that music in the distance that gives you the extra little umph that you need to push through the last half mile. I crossed the street, back to the path, around the bend, and through the grass
(to grandmother’s house we go?) to the parking and across the finish line. No injuries, no walking, no problem. I have a new found appreciation for my ankle and knee joints after running on rough terrain.
Did I come in first? No. Did I place in my age division? No. Did I finish last? No. But you know what? Even if I did, that would have been okay too. The point is, I went out and did it. I tried something new, put myself in an uncomfortable situation for me, and I finished. That in itself is just as good as winning.