This past weekend I decided to switch things up a bit. In all honesty, I was getting a bit sick and tired of running 10-14 miles every Saturday in the 90+ heat and humidity we have been having here in SC for the past 4 months. I wanted a way to motivate myself to get out of bed for yet another hot and sticky training run. I discovered that the Dirt Dash Half Marathon would be running through the trails of Marion Forest not too far outside of Charleston and decide to jump on this opportunity, and the extra motivation to get up early.
I did not plan to race the event since:
– August in SC is HOT
– my ankle is close to 100%, but not quite
– I always take trail races a bit easy
Packet pickup was from 6:00-6:30 am which meant that with a 45 min drive I was out of my house at 5:15 (to allow time to park and be shuttled into the forest). Tip: If you do sign up for this race make sure you pop the parking lot address into you navigation system the night before as it is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere and easy to fly by in the the dark. However, once you make it there a bus takes you from the lot to the edge of the forest and then you can walk or ride a golf cart to packet pickup/onsite registration.
The race started at 7:00 (okay 7:10 because we were waiting for people to get out of the porta-potty line) with a pretty small field.
My goals, which are always the same for a trail race, were:
– don’t trip and fall
– don’t get lost
– have fun
As you can tell from the pictures, we ran on the forest’s fire truck roads which were really packed down, so there were not many trip hazards. However, there were decent sized rocks in lots of spots on the roads. This meant you had to carefully watch where your feet were landing so you didn’t step on a rock wrong and roll your ankle.
Speaking of ankles, post sprain I have been cleared for running, but my ankle is probably at 90-95%, not quite to 100 yet. Because of that, I decided to run comfortably and not push it. I kept reminding myself it was a training run, not a race. (Especially as people flew by me.) Those first 3-4 miles while I warmed up and saw what the leg could do were around an 11:45 – 11:50 pace.
After mile 4 my ankle was still feeling good so I allowed myself to increase my speed just a bit, nothing crazy, just to around 11:30 a mile to see how the ankle held up. I held my 11:30 pace until mile 10 when I got hit by that fast finish bug. One thing my coach and I have been working on a lot is being able to still have some speed left to pick it up at the end of a half and so in any training runs where I am healthy and feeling good I try to really pick it up those last 3 miles. And boy did I pick it up.! I knocked out those last three miles like nobodies business, each one faster than the last.
Overall, I finished the Dirt Dash Half Marathon in 2:28:26 which was an 11:19 average per mile. (That gives you a clue how fast the last 3 were when the previous 10 were all 11:30 and over.) Nothing near the race times I was bringing in this past winter, and nowhere near where I want to be this fall, but perfect for a HOT, trail training run.
*Special thanks to MizunoRunning for providing my the gear for this race, and all my runs.*
Let me know –
Are you able to run races just for training runs?
or do you get to caught up in the hype and end up racing?