Another awesome DINO 15k trail race is logged into the record books! The weather could not have been more perfect! The course was once again changed from previous years. For some reason they are building a road through the park toward the haunted bridge and therefore ruining a beautiful piece of woods. There were a few spots with mud, but nothing to get excited about. I currently live in Avon (though I’m moving to Carmel in May) but haven’t been in the park since last year. I actually previewed the course Friday night on my mountain bike. There was a free MTB racing “clinic” that mostly consisted of riding through the course with an expert rider to demonstrate how to negotiate the obstacles in one piece. This is not an easy course to run so facing some of the obstacles on a mountain bike was a little unnerving especially after seeing one of the “experts” crash off the side of a wooden bridge. He was trying to eat a clif bar while riding and I didn’t have a clif bar so I should be ok. Several years ago I had a scary little crash in this park that put a huge damper on my desire to ride a bike over rugged trails. The crash occurred on a relatively flat easy section so for this training run my heart was racing even when I was standing still staring down each obstacle building up the courage to attack. I’m happy to report I made it through the entire course unscathed. Well, almost unscathed, I did get a little up close and personal with one tree. I don’t know how the tree fared, but I have a little bruise on my left forearm. Some riders rode through the course a second time, but I did not want to push my luck and I would need to save my energy for the morning race. As it was my Tuesday 10 mile run had been moved to Thursday because of the celebration at Butler so I would be nowhere near fully rested for this race.
My strategy was to avoid going out too fast at the start, take it easy going up hills and through the tough winding sections, and run hard in the flat easy sections. I did manage to hold back at the start and not burn out right away. Within the first mile though I my legs were already starting to protest. You can rest when this is over I shouted back at them, just keep moving. Half way through the first lap I passed Vernie who would wind up blowing out his hamstring around mile 3 and DNFing. Vernie is very competitive and someone told me this was his first ever DNF. I’m praying he has a speedy recovery. Starting the second lap I could see Robert Burns was maybe 50 yards ahead of me. If figured I’d be doing well if I could just keep him in sight. There were lots of twists and turns in the first couple miles of the course so I was catching glimpses of Robert, but couldn’t really tell if I was gaining on him or falling away. After mile 2 there were some straighter sections including almost 100 yards on that new road through the woods. On the road and the mud section just off the road I pulled to within a few yards. In the last mile of the lap there are a couple nice little hills. I probably could have passed him on the first hill, but I was content to stay behind at this point. Near the top of the second hill Robert slowed to the point that I had no choice but to pass. I then started to think he was messing with me, letting me pass so I would burn myself out and then he could pick me off later in the last lap. Ultimately it wouldn’t really matter if he passed me or not because 1) we aren’t in the same age group and 2) I’m really just out there to have fun; however, I do use the other runners for motivation and if he was going to pass me I was going to make him earn it. Initially I got a pretty good lead on him but toward the middle of the last lap I could tell he had closed the gap. I figured I could gain ground in the mud section. Then for the last trip up those hills I never looked back. No sense in saving anything now. Just charge up those hills as fast as I can. At the finish I was about 26 second ahead of him. I finished in 1:05:45 good for 16th overall and 2nd in my age group. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact I was able to run so well on tired legs, that I was mentally able to ignore the fatigue and soreness and just keep pushing.
After the race Qdoba was again on hand dishing out naked burritos. There was no line so I grabbed one along with an awesome brownie for desert. After eating the burrito I went out for a cool down run of about 2.5 miles. There was still some time to kill before awards so I grabbed a second burrito. The brownies were all gone though. Speaking of pleasant surprises, I won a $25 gift certificate to The Runner’s Forum as a random door prize. Earlier in the week I won a pair of socks from The Runner’s Forum in the Indiana Trail Running big sock giveaway so I’ll be heading up there this Saturday to do a little shopping.
Another big weekend coming up. This Saturday is the Race For The Cure 5k. There will likely be 35 to 40 thousand runners and walkers, actually mostly walkers. My plan is to run like hell right from the start, never slow down, and set a new 5k PR. Even with the large crowd it should be pretty thin up at the front. Then on Sunday I’m doing the Carmel Sprint Triathlon, no expectations, just swim, ride, run hard and finish.