So all week I have had strep throat. It started after I went to a concert or two in Atlanta(which were totally worth it) and started feeling better early Friday morning. I had already signed up for this race a few weeks ago and felt compelled to do it, regardless of my current sick status.
My Dad got a free entry for buying a pair of Montrail trail shoes from Big Peach Running Co. He wasn't sure if he would be able to make the run, but free is free so he took it! With the easy return policy of Big Peach it was tempting not to buy a pair myself, get the free registration, and then just return them. That's what a true Coupon Queen would do.(sorry inside joke)
Yada yada, we arrived at the race about an hour and fifteen minutes early. We thought the drive out to Gainesville State College would be longer, but after some short cuts and less traffic than expected we were there in about 20 minutes. We picked up our packets and sat in the car to keep warm. Pre-race nerves were kicking in, sparking about 15 combined trips to the porta-potty before the race start. At this point I didn't have any nausea or a sore throat from the sickness and my legs were feeling great for not running for a week.
The shoes I chose for this race were my Vivo Barefoot Breathos and I wore my Swiftwick socks. I really like this combination and have not had any problems. I was pretty sure the trail was smooth, but I didn't want to take any chances and wanted to get a good time. I compromised ground feel for speed on this one, and later on you will find that it was almost a mistake.
The race bibs had chips on them, but we noticed that the start line did not have anything to chip us with and that the finish was only chipped. This was not a big deal, as there were about 150 runners total and we all kinda crossed the start line at once. I'm not one to heckle about a few seconds anyway.
I went into this race being mindful of my pace. I started the race a little quick knowing that the trail would get skinny eventually. I passed as many people as I could at the start while still not getting winded. Downhills seemed to be my shining point of this race. While everybody was slowing themselves down I was zipping down them and passing people.
After about 1.5 miles of running hard I decided it would be a good idea to slow down. I felt like some of the people around me on the single track trail would still want to be pushing hard. I ran off to the side of the trail and let 2 people pass me. I always try to be courteous in races and not slow anyone down. I'm not one to play defense in a race situation. I would rather everyone do their best, especially since I didn't care too much about this race. I think I was starting to feel the effects of not running for a week. My legs were sore and the winding trail(lots of back and forth) were making me a little nauseous.
After those 2 guys passed me I offered to let a girl named Kara pass me. She said, "No no no, go ahead. I am wanting to settle into my pace." At this time we were varying from a 7:30 min/mile pace to an 8:30 min/mile. I told her that's exactly what I wanted to do.
From this point(about 1.5 miles) to about 4.5 miles we all stuck together. Kara was running strong and I felt like I was holding her back. I know she was catching my draft but I respected her because she was giving me motivation. We actually started talking and she told me that she was a Crossfitter. I could tell! She, like every other Crossfitter I met, was extremely friendly and supportive.
Around mile 4 I started feeling junky. The mucous from my sickness combined with my dry mouth and made it hard for me to concentrate on my running. As we powered up a long uphill I felt myself falling apart. I wanted to pull off to the side and let everyone pass. I wanted to quit.
Then I heard a voice behind me, "C'mon Tyler, we're gonna have to speed it up." Kara didn't want to pass me. She wanted me to do my best and pace her to do her best!
My motivation switch flipped on! I tilted my body, increased my cadence, and started moving faster. At this point we were passing by the 4 mile mark. I looked at my watch which told me 3.8 miles. I hate it when this happens for these reasons.
- Either the course is marked wrong at this one spot and we really are at 3.8 of 5.3 or...
- We are at 4 miles and I need to start thinking about going faster for a strong finish.
Eventually we caught up to a man in front of us. I tried to run behind him and catch a draft. He was going a little slower than I wanted but I was okay with that since I wanted to save some juice for the finish. Unfortunately, I am not skilled with drafting and have very little experience with it. I got a whiff of his laundry detergent fragrance and gagged. My sickness was coming back. I had to get around this guy.
We got to the point where it looked like we were coming back to the finish. It was a slight down hill with a little opening in the trail. I took advantage of it and ran off the trail to pass him. As I entered back on the trail my ankle hit the edge of the trail and twisted. I heard a tearing noise. "Ahh F**K!" I yelled. Fortunately it sounded worse than it hurt and I was able to keep moving. That was the first time I had ever twisted my ankle! More shoe == Less Procioception == More Ankle Twisting.
What I thought was the finish was really a false finish. We winded back into the woods and went up and down the rolling trail. Soon enough we hit a wide, kinda ugly, dirt road. I could see a turn up ahead and didn't really know how much more there was left. Thankfully, a volunteer was cheering us on and said, "C'mon guys! You're almost there. Just about a tenth of a mile left!"
I didn't trust him. After being lied to by volunteers(probably by mistake) I am skeptical. Sure enough, we made another turn and the finish line was in sight. I could see the second guy that I let pass me earlier in front of me. I got right behind him and waited for him to make his move. He took off and I waited. After about 2 seconds I went into a dead-on sprint. I had to be moving around 5 minute/mile. I zipped past him and held the sprint to the finish at 39:36.8 minutes.
After finishing I didn't know how my body would react. Earlier in the race I wanted to puke. I went into a brisk walk and hoped my body could transition. After a few seconds of walking I trusted that I would not throw up and hit the water station. I congratulated Kara and thanked her for pushing me.
I later learned that Kara won overall woman’s! I was really proud of her but couldn't find her again to congratulate her. So CONGRATULATIONS KARA!
Now, this may sound cocky of me, but I feel like I played a good role on this race for her. Earlier, while we were talking, she mentioned/joked that I was pacing her. I hope this was true and that she was able to perform her best partially because of me. I love seeing people achieve their goals!
About 10 minutes later my Dad came in! This was an excellent time for him! He kept 9:17 min/miles, which is unheard of for him!
About 10 minutes after that my Mom came in. Being a new trail runner I was impressed! She even took second in her age group!
Overall I really enjoyed this race. It was extremely well marked and had people pointing on every non-obvious turn. There was literally no way to get lost! I definitely want to do this race next year and maybe even do the series. There were some fast people out there. I hope with my training I can keep moving up in the pack!
If you ran this race, or any Dirty Spokes race, leave a comment. I have a feeling almost everyone had a good experience. They even made this stellar video!