On Sunday I ran the Chilly Cheeks 7 mile trail race. I did this race last year when the trails were covered with a few inches of snow. The footing last year was poor and I wasn't in as good of condition as I am this year so I didn't try to run as hard last year. In road races I generally finish in the top 5%, and trail races I'm closer to top 10-15%. I decided to try to change that and took off like a bat out of hell. A quarter mile into the race there's a free for all up a hill. I was probably in about about 20th place up that hill (out of 580), and when I started down the street to the next trail it felt like I was kicked in the gut. That feeling would stick with me for the next 7 miles. Whether it was the 15 degree weather or the fact that I'm not in as good of hill shape as I think I am, it didn't matter, I hurt. But, I wasn't about to slow down.
Without snow on the trails this year, I was surprised to find just how rocky the trails are. About 2.5 miles in I felt like my socks were bunched up in my shoes, but it turns out my feet were just starting to swell a little from taking the rocks too hard in shoes that probably don't have a rock plate (Adidas Marathon Trail). At 5 miles in there's the first flat stretch of the race where I was able to get my legs back and aim for people to pass. But, when you're running with the front of the pack, you can't easily catch someone 200 yards ahead of you. And when we hit the single track again I unfortunately followed them about 50 yards off course (straight down a hill of course). After climbing Mt. Whadafug (my 4th or 5th hill having to walk up) I knew it was all downhill from there. I flew down 600 feet of elevation over the next mile trying not to blink which would have resulted in a tumble. I ended up in 33rd place with a time of 1:01:something. 18 minutes and 54 places better than last year.
It's amazing how when I run a race like this I, and my legs are trembling beneath me as I trudge up another hill I question why I even do this. But, as soon as it's over I start planning on how I can do better next year.
The rocks beneath my feet were like that for about 70% of the trail.