This was a free half marathon in its second year. A run through the woods of Pine Grove Furnace State Park. They asked for donations for Susan G. Komen organization. Interestingly enough, the RDs own sister was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and is currently cancer free between the first race last year and this years race. And they had double the turn out this year! I was glad to see a group of my Lancaster friends and a couple of York friends show up!! However, next year will be by registration because its just to hard for them to plan how many people will actually show up vs. sign up. Case in point...we had 1 bathroom for everyone today! Good thing we are trail runners. Lots of trees for me ;).
Anyhow, this race comes after a month of rough running for me including 2weeks of no running due to a bum ankle and then severe asthma issues for another 2weeks. I really needed a good run. The temps around here have been warm for March but this morning was alittle cooler which was good but humid and foggy. I wasnt sure how it would go.
The race was later start of 9am. We took off on time for a short 1/2mile loop to break up the group. Then headed into the woods on some single track. It wasnt long before I was in the back of the pack and we head up a long steady incline. I see Carli & Gary ahead of me and think I want to catch up and run with them. I am running good and breathing good. Even passed one or two people. But they are to just to fast and quickly fade away. At this point I am running with Angie & Amy. They are doing the talking and I throw in a word or two here or there. Angie is newer to trail running and is doing great.
Then comes the big hill. Its a good one. We basically hiked the entire thing. I really admire people who can run hills like that...someday! But I notice that I keep moving forward and at a pretty good pace. This is excellent! My breathing is great! We finally crest the hill and slowly start running again. I cant believe I didnt have to stop in the middle of the hill. My breathing has been so bad that I have been having to actually STOP midhill to regulate my breathing lately. Sometimes more then once. Not today! And this starts my runners high thats lasts the rest of the race and beyond :)
We head into the first AS where I grabbed a sip of Gatorade and kept moving. A group of 4 ladies hung out a little longer as did Angie & Amy. I figured I would keep moving down the stone road and they would all catch up with me, as usually happens with me. I ran down the stone road and left onto the most beautiful single track of the race. The fog was just beginning to lift so you couldnt see to far around you. This was a lollipop loop and little ups and downs with pine needles and rocks thrown into the beauty. I felt like I was cruising. I could hear some other girls but couldnt see them.
After I came out of that section I am still running by myself. I occasionally hear voices but never see anyone. At this point I kind went into auto pilot. Just running and running. Enjoying my surroundings and just how great I am feeling!
I eventually see another girl in red ahead of me. I follow behind at a decent distance. And here is where I need to get better. Most people see someone ahead and want to reel them in and pass them. Not me. Although I want to be a faster runner, the idea of catching up to and passing someone isnt really incentive for me! But I am getting better at passing people that are directly in front of me atleast. We come up to the steep decline that we were warned about. They said that you might have to butt slide it. But while I thought it was steep and happy to be going down instead of up it...it definately wasnt a butt sliding hill! And I was closing in on red shirt girl on the down hill.
Alittle bit more running and we come to the fire road. Alot of little rollers here (but mostly at an incline). It was just enough to keep a good pace going. And I hear no more voices from any of the girls behind me. Good sign! Then just when I am getting sick of the fire road we hit an AS where I grab a banana! Yum! Then hooray-single track! Great time to stop for a bathroom break. And I lose red shirt girl off into the distance...
I am running alone again and my pace has slowed but I am still feeling great! I just cant believe it! I kind of get lost in my thoughts and surroundings at this point. Run through a creek or two and the cold water feels great on my feet.
With about 3miles to go...what is that I see ahead?! Red shirt girl again! That gave me a little boost to pick up the pace again. And the fact that we are cruising downhill! I close in. Stomping full force thru the middle of the creek, fun! Until we hit the last uphill. Dang! Another hill?! You know how you think you are close enough the the finish that there cant possibly be another uphill?? And then there is one last uphill. Yeah, it sucks!
I make it out of the trail and onto the road and down into the park to the finish. 2:48:01. My goal was to be under 3hrs. Yay, I did it and I felt great the entire time!
It turns out red shirt girl is actually a friend of mine and she finished about 30seconds ahead of me. I had no idea it was her. It just never occured to me that it might be someone I know. I could have been running with her the whole time. That'll teach me next time...reel 'em in!!
I cant wait to do this race again next year. Great race. Great trails. Excellently marked. And best of all great volunteers...many which were kids! AND Rik over heard them saying about longer distances in the future...next year?!
Oh, and I even won a Mary Kay pedicure kit at the end raffle! Just what every trail running chick needs!!
Thanks for reading! Happy trails!!