A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Watefall Glen Xtreme 10 Race Report

So this past Saturday I once again attempted the Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10. That's me up there in the red tank and white hat. You may recall that last year the race was canceled.

This year the weather almost didn't cooperate once again. The thunderstorms started at Friday night and dumped 7 inches of rain on the city by the time I woke up at 5:00 AM on Saturday. Thankfully the thunder, lightening and rain abated by the time we left for the race venue. We arrived early enough to spray ourselves down with bug spray, hit the port-a-potties, and I did a 2 mile warm-up.

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 Warm Up by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thankfully the heat left along with the rain. It was still humid and warm, but at least it wasn't the scorching 90+ temps we'd been having for the previous few days. Still, my goals for this race were just to run it at marathon pace, take my walk breaks, and get in the miles. I had no plans to PR or really even "race" this particular race. And originally my fellow running club member Helen wasn't feeling like a race, either. Until she saw the trophies. And then she got amped. "I want a trophy!" she exclaimed.

This race is unique for the area in that it has a cross-country style wave start and the entire race takes place on a combination of grass and gravel. The course is lovely and almost entirely shaded except for a few spots of prairie. The only downside? Sometimes it floods. And after all the rain we'd had I fully expected to slog through some wet spots.

As I was standing at the start line for my wave I overheard someone say that the bridge a few miles in was underwater. Hmm. Interesting. The grassy field at the beginning and end of the race was also full of puddles. This was definitely going to be a race filled with wet socks.

We started and, as always, I went out too fast. My plan was to run between 10:20 and 10:30 miles. Turns out it was a good thing I banked a little time at the beginning. Because as I rounded a corner at the 1.5 mile mark I saw a large group of people just standing on the path.

I so wish I'd had my camera on me. Words cannot do what I saw justice. The foot bridge that was underwater? Actually had a current flowing over it so strong that it would have been easy to get swept away down the now overflowing creek. The water was almost knee deep and people were stopping to take off their shoes before crossing the stream. I decided I'd run in wet shoes before (see: March Madness Half Marathon) so I left mine on and inched my way over the bridge.

Just 8.5 more miles to go. In sopping wet shoes. I'd lost about 2-3 minutes at the bridge crossing but didn't mind too much. It mostly just made me laugh at the whole situation. I mean, it isn't called the "Xtreme" 10 for nothing, right?

The other reason this race is extreme is the hills. We don't have a lot of hills in northern Illinois but this race definitely has some. They've even named one of them: Big Bertha. Thankfully it's near the beginning of the race but, really, the entire course is full of rolling hills with very little relief. My wet shoes, the humidity, and the hills were sapping my energy more quickly than I wanted.

My plan had been to take walk breaks every 2 or 3 miles. After the break at mile 1.5 I decided I'd do them every 2 miles or so. I took a few extra during mile 7 to dump some water over my back but otherwise stuck to my plan. Still, this race felt harder than I would have liked. I'm not sure why. I felt good during my warm-up but towards the end of the race I was wondering why I signed up for a marathon and how I ever managed to run 9:00 minute miles for an entire 13.1 miles. I'm hoping that my lack of pep was due to the hills and the humidity.

The last 600 meters or so is across the same grassy field you started on. But now you're tired and you just want to be done. Finally I could see the finish line up ahead. I ran past another club member who was taking pictures. "Go Erin!" she shouted. "The finish line is just up there. With the ambulance!" It made me laugh.

I crossed the finish line, grabbed some water, and met up with the rest of the club members. We hung around for awards and, yes, Helen did indeed get her trophy. I was just happy to have done exactly what I set out to do. Run a total of 12 miles and pace between 10:20 and 10:30 miles.

Final race time? 1:43:23. Almost 20 minutes slower than my 10 mile PR but that's not the point. The point is that I chose a pace and stuck to it. I conquered the hills and humidity. And I had a good time with the rest of my running group buds.

After brunch (mmmm, French toast) I went home to once again find water in my basement!

Thankfully this time was much less traumatic than last time. About 4 inches of water, nothing important ruined, and way less to throw out. We've finally gotten smart about what we keep down there. Still, I was ready for a nap after a race, brunch, and basement cleaning. I slept like a log Saturday night. I think I earned it!

Waterfall Glen Xtreme 10 by snmnstrz21 at Garmin Connect - Details