I hope everyone had a Happy Easter yesterday! This past Saturday Barry and I ran the Montvale 10 Mile trail race. It was a fun day out on the trails and another great Mountain Junkies event.
The race started at 9 AM, and it’s about an hour and 15 minutes away, so we didn’t have a super early wake up call as race mornings go. We arrived at Montvale Park a little after 8:15 AM and picked up our bibs, race shirts, and race packets. After getting ready to run, Barry and I made our way over to the park pavilion for the always-entertaining prerace meeting from Josh.
Side note: Josh and his wife Gina are the guru’s behind Mountain Junkies LLC, which puts on a series of trail races in the spring called the Non-Ultra Roanoke Trail Seires or ‘RNUTS’. Last year I participated in the RNUTS (six races ranging from 5K to marathon) and had a blast. This year I only plan to do two of the races – Montvale 10 Miler and Conquer the Cove 25K.
After the prerace meeting we walked over to the race start. To get there we crossed a skinny, bouncy bridge over the creek. Towards the end of the race, we would run back across this bridge. Last year it was a bit precarious because it was wet, muddy, and super slippery, but this year it was just bouncy and fun. Just after 9 AM we were on our way!
The temperature was in the high 40’s/low 50’s and cloudy – just about perfect running weather in my book. I hope it’s like that in two weeks at my 50K! The first mile starts out flat and then starts climbing gradually after that. I felt really good and just tried to run relaxed.
Just before mile two we ran through a water stop. I had my hydration pack, so I just cruised on through.
One thing I love about this race is how the trail winds through the woods with lots of switchbacks. Especially early on in the race, you can see runners going every which way in the woods. It looks really neat! You may see someone who appears to be just ahead or just behind you, but they are usually at least a half mile to mile ahead/behind. An added bonus this year is that the trails were in excellent condition. Much faster than last year’s ‘Montvale Mudfest’. The course doesn’t really have any major hills, but it’s basically never flat. You’re either going up or going down the whole time.
Just after mile 2 I made a new friend, KT. She was running right behind me and we had spoken a few times back and forth early on. As we started the nice downhill section after the water stop, we really got chatty. It was fun talking to her as we ran along. Around this time we started getting passed by the front runners of the 5 miler, which started 10 minutes after the 10 miler. The 5 mile and 10 mile courses run together for the first 4.5 miles or so before splitting. From mile two until the split KT and I had to pull over to the side of the trail many times to let faster runners pass. I didn’t mind, but I was glad when we got to the split!
As we approached mile 4 my breathing was getting more and more labored. KT and I were still running together and she asked if I was alright. I told her that I was, and that I was just still recovering from having the flu last week. I also have mild exercise-induced asthma, which has been exacerbated by this flu recovery. It was a bit frustrating for me, because my legs felt great. My lungs were not having it, though, and I started taking short walk breaks on the hills. I used my inhaler, which I had also used prerace, between miles 4 and 5. I haven’t had to use it since the end of last summer but I definitely needed it on Saturday.
Just after mile 5, as we began another long gradual climb, KT and I split up. She asked me if I wanted her to stick with me but I told her to run her own race and I’d see her at the finish. I would have loved to stay with her the whole race! We were well-matched pace wise and I was really enjoying the conversation. Oh well. My heart rate data from the race definitely reflects the struggle with my lungs, as I spent most of the race in Zone 5 – above 170 bpm. I need stay the heck away from Zone 5 and stay in the aerobic zone (Zone 3, roughly 130-150 bpm) during my ultra.
From mile 5 on, I ran on my own. I passed through the same water stop again (this time just after mile 6, I think). The miles ticked off and before I knew it I was approaching mile 9. As I came up a hill, I looked up to see Barry. Per usual, he had come back to collect me and run me in.
The final mile went by pretty quick. In what seemed like no time, we arrived back and the creek and ran across the bouncy bridge (Barry was behind me and made sure to bounce extra as we crossed!). We then ran through the muddiest section on the race course- the grassy trail connecting the wooded trails to the paved track at the park. I ran along the track towards the pavilion and across the finish line.
I finished the race in 2:04:59. Not a great time for me, but it was better than I expected. I hadn’t run more than 3 miles at a time in the past two weeks, as I recover from the flu, so I really had no idea how this race was going to go. Although I struggled with my lungs, I was happy to find my legs felt so good this race.
Barry and I hung out in the pavilion postrace. They had the usual, fabulous Mountain Junkies postrace food spread (fruit, bagels, chocolate, hummus, crackers, veggies, homemade pumpkin bread, and homemade cookies). I wasn’t feeling super hungry and just grabbed a few crackers and half a banana.
There was a door prize drawing going on and I won a new fleece hat! Barry also won and got a new buff. I was feeling a bit chilled at the end of the race, so I was glad to have that fleece hat to put on. I also snagged third place in my age group (although full disclosure: there were only three total in my age group 😉 ). Barry ran a great race, finishing in 1:25:42, which was good for fourth out of eleven in his age group. As it turned out, third place was the guy who sprinted past Barry right at the finish line, clinching third by a mere 4 tenths of a second.
This race reminded me of how much I really love being out in the woods on the trails. Although I have enjoyed my trail runs throughout training, I always feel a bit on edge and worry because of that dog incident in December. I’m still aware of my surroundings during a race, of course, but I feel like I can just relax and enjoy myself.
Although it’s a bit worrisome that I had such a rough time with my lungs during the race, this race did get me really excited for the TNF ECS 50K. I can only hope that I will be fully recovered from the flu in the next two weeks. I can’t wait to get out there on April 9 to push myself, and take on this new challenge on the trails!
Who else raced this past weekend?
Do you make friends during races? I always seem to 🙂