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The Night is Right….for Running

29 May

When I last spoke to you, I had made the hasty decision to run a trail race — in the dark — and was waiting on a confirmation of the results of my Diet Bet. I learned on Friday that I had indeed won my Diet Bet and the total amount I won was $57.11! The original buy in was $35, so I’d say that was definitely a worthwhile experiment. Shortly after claiming my winnings, a friend from High School invited me on Facebook to play another game for a $25 buy in. Since Diet Bet credits your account for your winnings, you can use them to play other games or request a Pay Pal payout. After I joined her bet and requested a pay out on Pay Pal, I ended up only being down $3 total. I’m pretty determined to win this next game too!

On to the night race! I’m sort of embarrassed about how naive I was about this race. When I heard “trail race” and “moonlight”, I assumed that we would be running on maybe gravel roads, but that ended up not being the case. This was a full-on trail race, with fallen trees that we had to climb over and duck under, narrow trails, steep uphill climbs and everything! I’ll attempt to recap the race without getting to rambly. Please note, most of the following photos were borrowed from the Kanawha Trace Trail Running Club‘s Facebook group, due to the fact it was PITCH BLACK and I couldn’t get many photos:

boy scout camp The race was held at Camp Arrowhead, which is  a local Boy Scout camp. I’d never been out there, but it’s just a lovely area. glow stick   The trail was marked by these orange flags and glow sticks. Leading up to the race, my thought was, “Well, it won’t be TOO dark, because it’s a full moon and there will be glow sticks!” — you guys, glow sticks aren’t that bright. I was straining my eyes to see them, mainly because once darkness fell and I was running, I was deathly afraid of getting lost. My worst fear was ending up away from the pack, which inevitably happened — at one point everyone who was in front of me was WAY in front of me and there was nobody behind me. That’s when I took this Vine video:

Click on the picture to go to the video!

Click on the picture to go to the video!

Oh, and the headlamp? Well, see, here’s where they naivete really comes into play. I didn’t even think of taking a light source with me until my friend Sarah tweeted that she was worried her headlamp would fall off. I immediately texted her and asked, “Should I get a headlamp!?” and she said, “DUH! of COURSE you should you big dummy!!!” — I”m totally kidding, she did not say that at all, but she really should have. Thank goodness I was headed to my friend Mandee’s house to do some wedding related things, and I’ve been camping with her enough to know she owns a headlamp, so I snagged that. Sarah never would have let me run without one, but thinking of running that race without one kind of cracks me up. It was SO dark! In fact, despite the headlamp, I downloaded a flashlight app for my phone while we were lined up waiting for the gun, just in case.

So, back to the race. I mentioned before that I’ve never run trails. The start of the race was on a gravel road much like the one I run on in the park so just after we started I was thinking “Oh, this isn’t bad. I can do this!” — and then we made a sharp left into the woods and immediately starting climbing a mountain! No joke. There was no choice at times but to walk (although I’m sure the 14 year old cross-country racers who won the race sprinted up the hill), but for those of us who are of normal fitness levels, walking was the only option. Not only were we running through uneven terrain, up steep hills and under giant fallen trees:

Imagine coming up on this guy in the dark!

Imagine coming up on this guy in the dark!

…..but there were also giant mud puddles, creeks, slick rocks and all the normal trail obstacles — with the added challenge of complete darkness. I fell twice — once was very minor, but the second time was right at the end of the race while we were running around that giant pond you see in the first photo on this post, and I swear I came pretty close to falling in. I was holding my phone at this point because I was checking our mileage (running in the dark was so disorienting, I wanted to see how close we were to finishing), and I fell directly on my thumb. It still really hurts! Once the finish line was in sight, I couldn’t imagine taking the 7 mile option (I did 3.5, so it would be like doing the whole thing again!) — I was wiped out!

I ended up finishing in 46:25 — about a 13 minute pace, and only about 4 minutes behind Sarah, who had just run a trail race the previous weekend, so I felt pretty good about that. I was the 8th female and 22nd overall, which is probably the first time I’ve ever been in the top ten (females) in a race, so there’s that! It was very cool after I finished watching the runners come down the trail — all you could see was headlamps and flashlights bobbing in the trees.

The overall verdict is: If you ever have a chance to run a trail race it the dark — DO IT! It was seriously scary, really, really hard, but one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had! Also, the organizers of the race did an amazing job setting everything up. For only a $5 entry fee ($20 if you wanted a t-shirt), we had a very well organized race. Furthermore, at the finish line we had music, a bonfire (complete with s’mores!):

The only decent photo I managed to take!

The only decent photo I managed to take!

…vegetarian chili, water, coffee, hot dogs and some pretty great prizes (although I didn’t win any!)

In fact, I was so inspired after the race that I woke up the next morning and was raring to go for a long run, so I did just that:

long run

I can’t tell you what a great time I had on Saturday night. I’ll definitely be participating in the moonlight race again in November, and I’m considering signing up for a 10k trail race that’s coming up. I’m even browsing trail running shoes in my spare time 🙂

For no reason at all, here’s a picture of Frank:

This is post-dog park, his favorite place on Earth.

This is post-dog park, his favorite place on Earth.

Question of the Day:
Would you ever run a race at night time?

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Christmas 2012: A photo Re-cap

27 Dec

I’m sitting at my desk at work, feeling a little bummed out that the holidays are over.

My sister and our cousins in the Christmas jams I bought for us. Twins!

My sister and our cousins in the Christmas jams I bought for us. Twins!

I’m also feeling overwhelmed – by work, unread blogs (I must read them all!), New Year’s Eve planning, 2013 resolution planning…. There is a lot to get done!

My second cousin Ava wearing her Christmas Nikes and sitting with my Dad.

My second cousin Ava wearing her Christmas Nikes and sitting with my Dad.

But, despite the stress of the post-Christmas, pre-New Year’s activities, I’ve got a huge smile on my face. Because I had the best Christmas (and birthday!) that I’ve ever had!

My Christmas and Birthday gifts! I'm a lucky girl!

My Christmas and Birthday gifts! I’m a lucky girl!

It was so nice to have Zach come with me to visit my family, but I’m also grateful that he and his family will soon be my family too!

2012-12-21 16.26.22

My future husband and some of my future in-laws (we’re missing Zach’s mom and step-dad)!

In a testament to how great my “new” family is, my Sister-in-law, Courtney (on the left in that photo) took care of our kitties while we were in Pittsburgh, and she surprised us with this photo on Christmas morning:

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Photo courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography

Isn’t that awesome!? She bought them a cat tree and surprised them with it on Christmas morning. It made me feel so happy and loved that she made sure my cats were having a good time while I was away.

Of course, not all the cats were impressed:

Yes, that's Tuscany vomiting by the cat tree.

Yes, that’s Tuscany vomiting by the cat tree. Photo courtesy of Courtney Bell Photography

Gross, I know, but also hilarious. Tuscany is a little hard to please.

All in all, I had a fabulous week. There is nothing in life better than having a loving family, and this year I’m so very grateful to be gaining a whole extra family to call my own.

Question of the day:
How was your Christmas!? 

Winter Break

21 Dec

I’m going to be take a blogging break until Thursday, while I go home to be with my family in Pittsburgh. Hopefully I’ll have much to share when I get back.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!