With the blazing Louisiana heat and humidity my summer race calendar has been scarce. Even though races are still held in the summer months there are fewer to choose from. I was determined to find a race to do last weekend since I was off of work and did not have much planned.
For those of you that know me, you know I am not a fan of trail runs….at all. Yes I ran cross-country in high school in college but those races were basically running in mowed grass and up and down levees. There is just something about the uneven surfaces and branches that makes me think I am going to sprain my ankle or trip and fall on my face.
I saw NOLA Running Systems was holding a 3 mile trail run at the Bonnet Carre Spillway Saturday. I have only run this course once but half of it was on top of a levee and it was about ten years ago. I decided to give a true trail run a try.
I was more than prepared Saturday morning. I wore my old trail shoes, bug repellant, and even brought a change of clothes just in case it was muddy.
The race was held at the Bonnet Carre boat launch in the actual Bonnet Carre Spillway. The heat index was already at 93 degrees at 7am but we were lucky enough to have a breeze. My “heat training,” consisting of ridding my yard of crab grass all week, seemed to pay off since I was not hot at all.
The race start was probably the most exciting I have experienced since the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. We were about to run in the woods so Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” played as we took off.
We ran through a open field for the first quarter mile then entered the woods onto the trail. I was a little frustrated the first half mile because we were forced to run single file because of the width of the trail, it was crowded, I was desperately trying to not trip over a branch. I felt like I was running a lot faster but I was at an 8:20 pace.
I finally got comfortable after the first mile and got into a rhythm. I stuck with a pack of three males that were running my pace. I was in third for the females but the two lead females were way too far ahead for me to catch up. The strange thing about this trail run is that you could only see about 8 feet in front of you at all times because of the winding course and trees. So there was really no way to see who was in front or behind you.
The one thing I was not expecting from this course was hills. I guess technically these would not count as hills but to this southerner it sure did. For the first 2 miles we were up and down every few feet navigating branches and a few mud pits.
The course flattened out a bit in the third mile. My pace slowed to almost a 10 minute mile. I was feeling the exhaustion in my legs from the constant turns and elevation changes.
I kept my third place spot and finished in 28:05. I was first in the 30-39 age group. All finishers were awarded custom steel cut medallions. This race was also the RRCA Louisiana State Cross-country championship and medals and plaques were awarded to the top finishers.
The after party had fresh fruit, pasta salad, Chee-Weez, and plenty of ice cold beer.
Guess what? I surprised myself and actually enjoyed a trail run. I think if my schedule allows I will try the full trail run series next summer.
Next up for me is the 15th Street Flyers Four on the Fourth Run this Saturday July 4. The four mile run promises lots of fun, competition, and a bikini beer mile. For more information visit www.15thstreetflyers.org