Race Recap: Jacobsburg 10 Mile Trail Run

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It took three weeks before I did another race post marathon. Honestly, I woke up on the day of this race with zero desire to do this race. I was tired, and felt pretty out of shape and not in the mood to race. I promised my friend, Leigh, I would do it with her. I talked previously about her traumatic accident last year and I wanted to support her. There was a five and ten mile option for the race. She wanted me to run it, but not with her. She likes to run alone and signed up for the five miler. Since I would have gone for about a 10 mile run that day anyway, I signed up for the 10.

Except the days before this race were a little crazy. We had some really crappy stuff happening at work with negotiating a new teacher contract. I ended up having a long, exhausting day on Friday that resulted in a migraine, lots of sushi and my couch. Saturday was my first ever pole competition, and it was a looong day (I left my house at 8am and didn’t get home until 11pm). I woke up on Sunday morning feeling quite rough. Mentally, I just didn’t feel like running a race. Both my mind and body were just not there.

I grabbed a coffee and perked up when I arrived at the race. I saw a bunch of local runners – some that I know, others that I was friends with on Facebook and never met before. Being around the running community and my friend, Leigh, made me happier about my decision to run. I was also excited to run the trails of Jacobsburg since I’d never run there before. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew this was a legitimate trail run – not the flat, cinder paths I run on frequently.

We lined up at the start and the race began promptly at 9am. The five and ten miler began together, so after the national anthem we were off. As usual, I shot out quickly to avoid the crowds. I like to do this on trail runs because if it becomes a single track situation, I don’t like being stuck behind people. Less than a mile into the run, the five miler went right and ten miler went to the left. As the course split and we settled into the 10 mile route, a woman surged past me. I didn’t follow her. I don’t know if I could have caught her, but I decided I just wanted to go for a 10 mile run in the woods. I found myself as second place female and just tried to get my footing. I haven’t been on any technical trails since last summer and I certainly didn’t want to turn an ankle now.

Miles 1-4 featured a lot of climbing. The whole race was really quite hilly:

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The climbs were certainly not as steep as the game preserve (my usual local trail run of choice) The first mile began straight up a hill, and the climbs pretty much kept coming until mile four. By the second mile of the race, I was running completely alone. I was concerned because I don’t know this area at all, and there were lots of little trails and intersections. I had no idea where I was and I have a terrible sense of direction. I paused at several intersections to question where I was supposed to go.

I want to say this course was well marked and poorly marked all at the same time. I’m not quite sure how to describe it. There were many confusing intersections, and the race directors did a good job of having a lot of markings on the course. It would be impossible to mark everything, and they hit the main areas of confusion. The problem was, though they spray painted arrows and had little signs in most places I often had no idea exactly where the arrows or signs were pointing. Sometimes, there were several different trails merging in one area and it got confusing. Honestly, the organizers marked it the best that they could and I probably just second guessed myself since I have zero sense of direction.

I hit mile four and it was probably one of my favorite parts of the course. We finally got a long, gradual descent and the scenery was beautiful. Here in the Lehigh Valley, there are these purple and white wildflowers that bloom everywhere and they were lining this section of the course. It was so pretty. I didn’t feel awesome, but I felt like I was out for a Sunday morning run on some trails. I was happy to see that I was averaging about an eight minute mile, but I don’t really look at my watch much while trail racing. The numbers never mean too much to me in a trail race because every trail is so different – it’s tough to compare.

Miles 5-10 were pretty equal in terms of uphill and downhill. Some of the uphills were long and I could tell that I need to do focus on some hill training this summer. Much of the run had sections with huge roots, rocks, and just tough terrain. I stopped a few times to make sure I was going the right way. I was completely alone and saw no one else during these miles and I was concerned that I made a wrong turn. Occasionally there would be a water stop or a road crossing with a volunteer directing traffic, and that would reassure me that I was on course. I was happy to run the 10 miles, but I was tired and didn’t want to run much further.

My watch beeped to indicate I’d reached mile 10, but I knew I was nowhere near the finish. SHITTTTT. Am I lost? Did I miss a turn? The trail dumped me out onto a road, and there was no one there to cross us. Any time the trail hit a road during the course, there was a volunteer or a cop there to cross you so I didn’t think I should cross the road. I stopped and looked around to try to see something – an arrow, a sign, a person. After a few minutes (well, it felt like a few minutes – probably more like one minute) of looking down each of the trails at this intersection, I spotted people in the far distance. I had no idea if it was the right direction, so I just took off towards them. Thankfully, it was. I finally found the finish line and my Garmin measured 10.5 miles. I heard other people saying their watches told them the course was 10.8-11 miles, so I got lucky.

I ended up finishing in something like 1:24:30. I was the second overall female, and I won the 30-39 age group. They gave the first overall winners awards, and an award to the top finisher in each 10 year age group. The prizes were all different types of running “items” that you could choose from, and I chose an LED flashlight. Figured I had plenty of socks (the other option) and could use something like that to keep in my car. I think the first place female ran something like 1:16. I think if I’d been more into the race, felt a little better, and didn’t stop so often because I thought I was lost, I could have probably broken 1:20 but I’m not so sure about running a 1:16. If I were in better shape and not in the middle of recovering from Kentucky, perhaps a 1:16 on that course would have been possible. I actually looked up the winner on Athinks out of curiosity, and we have the same PR for the 10 mile distance in a road race (1:05) and similar 5K PRs.

I wasn’t upset that the course was long or I got a little turned around. I was really happy with this run in general because I was able to participate in a race during recovery and not race it. Part of this was due to the nature of the race. I find it very easy to sign up for a trail race and just go for a run rather than race it. It’s really hard to compare mile splits and data from trail race to trail race since they are all so different. Other than the fact that I was fatigued in general that morning, my legs felt decent. I thought this race was a good way to gauge how my recovery was going, and to run on some new trails. I would do this one again next year!

Do you enjoy trail racing?

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11 Replies to “Race Recap: Jacobsburg 10 Mile Trail Run”

  1. Way to pull yourself out of feeling apathetic and turn in a great race! I’ve never done a trail race and have never really done much trail running, but I’d love to try it out more. I think I’d love running through the woods.

  2. See, this is just an example of how much more badass you are than I am. I don’t like running trails at all, and just reading about the confusing markings and how you didn’t know where to go and how the course went long just really stresses me out. I am NOT easy going enough for that stuff. It’s cool that you did it though, especially for the reasons you did, and despite dealing with all that stress at work and the stress of the pole competition (I still haven’t watched it yet; I need to watch it at a time where I can relax and really enjoy it! Mornings are too hectic here). YOU ARE MY HERO.

  3. great job as usual, lady! i’ve never done a trail race (and never even get to do any trail running at all, actually), but would definitely consider trying, although i know i’d be scared to trip or turn an ankle or something. sounds like it can be confusing/worrisome though, wondering if you’re even on the right trail!

  4. You know I love trail running/racing and for many of the reasons you stated. I’m not a fast road runner and I just feel more at ease on the trails–less pressure to run fast. I like that I’m alone more than in a crowd and there’s usually better things to look at than on the road, lol! But I love road running too and am lucky I’m in a place where I can do both. I’d love to do trails back East like where you’re from. Out here it’s desert terrain and I’d love to run in more woodsy trails 🙂

  5. I really don’t like trail running and racing, honestly. It’s my least favorite place to run and I’d rather run on the treadmill (and frequently do). But I like how you incorporated this race into your training and just did it as a 10 mile run, and I love that you didn’t let the other lady running ahead of you bother you. I have tried so hard to be this way with runs and just do them as tempos, but then get upset when I don’t place as high as I wanted to, or if I could’ve run faster, forgetting about the point of the run to begin with. It’s hard to do. It’s still awesome that you placed, and you got something out of it.

    Hooray for running the race with a friend, even if you didn’t run *with* her and just being there to celebrate her victories. It takes a lot for someone whose been in an accident or through something like that to have the guts to get out and run/race again… and to me victories like that are worth celebrating!

  6. Congrats on winning your age group! I actually just did my first, and probably last, trail race back in April. I didn’t know to go out faster, so I did find myself in a single track situation. I was stuck behind people who were walking almost right away and it got really frustrating. I was terrified of twisting my ankle and almost fell several times. The race that I did was a half, thankfully I didn’t pick the full, and we had to cross a stream around mile 5. I was a little cranky that I then had soggy feet for 8 more miles. Anyway, I don’t think trail racing is for me but it’s definitely worth trying out for a change of pace and scenery. 🙂

  7. Good job, Allison! I love trail races because they are so “la la la”. I only ever RACED one trail race and even that one I didn’t decide to start racing until around mile 7 when I found out I was one of the first women! Are you sore now? My ankles are always sore when I run trail for the first time in awhile.

  8. It’s tough to get out there and enjoy a race when you had so many reasons not to! Congrats on a really strong finish!

    Trail eaves scare me because of the marking issue. I’m never so far ahead that I can’t follow people, but once during a race I came out onto a road and the volunteers were at the next turn instead of at that intersection, and for about a quarter mile I wasn’t sure if I was going the right way! It was really nerve-wracking!

  9. I did my first trail race yesterday and I am unbelievably sore today. Trail racing is totally different than I’m used to! I’d like to do more in the future, though. It felt more like exploring than running.

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