The first race of the 2010 DINO Series was held at Eagle Creek Saturday morning. There was a record crowd. The 15k had 194 finishers which was 6 fewer than last year, but the 5k had 250 finishers, 55 more than last year. It seemed like all the regulars where there and it was nice to chat and reconnect. The course was the same as last year, not quite a full 5k. One thing that was different this year was the mud. Right from the start there was about a ¼ mile of wet mud that was a piece of cake compared to the mud near the finish. There was about a ½ mile section of ankle deep pig slop. I stopped running through this area in training a few years ago because it seemed like it was always under water. Actually the first lap through wasn’t so bad, but by the second and third lap the churning of over 400 pairs of feet had turned a wet trail into a long sheet of shoe sucking, chocolate cake batter. I did see several runners who had stopped to replace a lost shoe. I never tie my laces very tight so I was curling up my toes as I ran through trying to keep my shoes on my feet.
I ran about a mile or more warm up which included the last few hundred yards to the finish. There is a downhill with a wood bridge at the bottom of the hill. The bridge slopes down. I like to take full advantage of gravity and usually run downhill as fast as I can. This hill is a little tricky though because of all the roots and timbers. My first foot hit the bridge and slid out but I managed to stay upright. My second foot slipped and again I managed to stay upright. With the third step I cleared the death trap and decided to loop back around to try that again. This time I used a little more control coming down the hill and slipped a little on the bridge, but felt confident I could make it through three more times.
At the start I was eager and ready to go (think, kid on Christmas morning waiting to unwrap presents) so naturally I went out a little too fast. I managed to rein it in quickly though and gain control. The first lap went well except for the short ravine with the rope. A bottleneck developed and I got a little off course but made it through. I don’t know if that rope is for helping or hanging. First lap 21:43. At the start of the second lap my legs were already starting to feel heavy, but I decided to ignore their protests. They could rest at the finish, right now they needed to get to work. Just about 50 yards ahead I could see Steve Baber and Robert Burns. I didn’t want to pass them, but I did want to keep them in sight. The second time around I executed the rope ravine perfectly and I did catch and pass Steve and Robert. Steve seemed to be struggling to get up that
muddy slope, but Robert quickly sped off ahead of me. A short time later I crossed paths with Trail Boy who was out training for a marathon. Right after that I lapped my friend Janet who was running the 5k. She thinks I’m crazy and she is probably right about that. I warned her about the mud up ahead. Second lap 22:04. My legs were really starting to protest at the start of the third lap, but my lungs were doing just fine. I decide to not push too hard in the mud, but save the extra effort for the easily runnable sections. This must have been my lucky day because just as I was having negative thoughts about giving in to my leg’s protests Josh Baber passed me. He wasn’t running the race but was just out having fun. Obviously had he been racing he would have been way ahead of me at this point. Anyway, he was just what I needed, a pacer. I decided I would hang with him as long as I could. While struggling to hang with Josh I started to think about Amanda Holzhausen’s marathon report in which she mentioned Isaiah 40:31. “Those who wait for the Lord will find new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary”. I managed to hang with Josh right up to the severe mud section. That’s where he decided to let me go it alone, but of course we all know I wasn’t alone; He was with me. I could smell the barn
now. I was churning through the mud as fast as I could without losing a shoe. Once again I caught sight of Robert Burns and gained motivation from the thought of passing him. Of course he is a very strong runner and I never did pass him, but did close the gap at the finish. Final lap 22:09. Ok legs you have earned your rest. I washed a little mud off in a puddle near the finish and then went for a mile or more cool down run. I will often jog a 4th lap of the course, but not today, three times through that mud trough was enough. After the cool down I headed into the shelter and lined up for a burrito bowl from the newest series sponsor Qdoba. Mmmm. They were also dishing out some awesomelicious brownies. I followed that up with a cup of hot chocolate and a second (smaller) burrito bowl and some nice conversation with friends both old and new.
I was very happy with my effort. My finish time of 1:05:56 was only 12 seconds slower than last year, but because of the conditions represented a much greater effort. Overall I was 22 out of 194 and third in my age group.
Next race is the Sam Costa Half Marathon in two weeks. Last year I PR’ed there even after pulling my calf at mile nine. If I can stay healthy I feel another PR coming… stay tuned. Run Happy!