I was hoping to run the Dirt Devil Race Series as a training run for my half marathon in two weeks. But what I got instead was way more than what I asked for (in more ways than one). Here are the results for the 15K: 1:28:23, 9:30 min/mile, 11th overall (only 73 runners). Although it may look like a bad race, it’s necessary to preface the report with the fact that this trail race was riddled with hills that you would never have imagine existed before. It was one of the toughest races I ever ran (might even top the marathon debut in June).What’s even worse is within the first couple of miles, I tweaked my neck and although the pain wasn’t as bad during the race (or I just didn’t notice), it is in so much pain right now, I can barely move my head! What I hope I got out of this whole ordeal is even more respect for trail runners and more experience and knowledge on how to run hills. When I get to the ‘tough’ hill at the end of my half marathon in two weeks, I’m hoping I can picture running this race again and think to myself, “it’s not as bad as ‘The Widowmaker’” Yes, that was the name of one of the hills!!
I ran a 7K trail race a couple of months ago, so you’d think a 10K would be the most logical step up, not double+. But I wanted to get more miles in for my half marathon training and for some reason I thought ‘eh, 10K isn’t enough’. Big mistake! The first mile was nice and flat which was a good way to ease into the hills that we were about to encounter. You’ll see in the graph below that right after the first mile, we started to hit some hills. It wasn’t too bad since it was the beginning of the race, but still tough nonetheless. However at mile 2, we hit some really steep hills. I was hoping to be able to run the entire race, but after seeing everyone else start to walk and really feeling the burn in my legs, I had to follow suit. For a second, I wondered if anybody was able to run the entire course without walking, but once I got to mile 5 at the “steps of South Fortuna” aka “The Widowmaker”, I knew for a fact that it was impossible to run the whole way. Here is what another runner had to say about this part of the course: “There is no adequate description. You are climbing uneven man-made steps of earth and railroad ties up the side of a mountain.” Even hiking up this thing was tough! The guy in front of me stopped halfway through just to rest. While I was ascending this monster, I wondered why in the world a race director would make people through something like this.
Lucky for me, the rest of the race was more or less downhill from that point. But even the downhills were tough. I found myself trying to slow down even more than gravity was suggesting. The trail was definitely not a smooth one with rocks and cracks all over, so one wrong move and I would have been tumbling down instead. I would have loved to just let loose on those downhills (and I did for parts with a top speed of 4:32 min/mile). But safety was more important, so I shortened my stride and increased my cadence as much as possible.
Once the race was over, I realized I had an even bigger obstacle to deal with. The tweak in my neck had gotten worse to the point where I couldn’t even move it. It is literally stuck in one position, turning right, down, up and to a certain degree, left hurt. When it started hurting during the race, I thought to myself, ‘dang it, I can’t look behind me to see who’s coming up anymore’. But I still did it! And I kept turning right when it hurt more than left. That was dumb. I’ve rubbed some Biofreeze on it, and although it felt nice at first, it didn’t seem like it helped much. Icing did allow me to increase motion in my neck, but only while I was icing, so I need to do that some more. Also took some Tylenol to help with the pain. I know I’ll be out for at least a day or two, which I’m fine with. But if goes up to a week and dare I say it, 2 weeks, then I don’t know what I’m going to do about my half. I’m pretty sure I’m still going to run it, even if the neck isn’t better (probably not the best idea). But we’ll see how the neck heals.
I don’t know why I didn’t notice this before, probably because I decided to run some of these races at the last minute. But I’ve had a race every other week since July 4th which concludes with my half marathon on August 15th. I ran a 10K, 5K and the 15K today. It would have been ideal if I switched up the first two, but I’ll still take it. This is still a good progression to my half marathon in two weeks, so there may be a slight chance of PR-ing, although it’ll be tough to beat 1:28 and that killer hill at the end of the course. But who knows, maybe this race toughened me up for hills and I’ll be able to tackle it at the half and even use it to my advantage!