Yesterday’s Fair Oaks Fiesta Sun Run 5 miler was… interesting. This course is about half “paved” road and half trail. And the entire thing is hilly save for about a mile. Normally at this time of year it’s in the high 80s or 90s (hence the “Sun Run” concept) and so when I signed up for this race I was a little worried about getting really, really hot. Well, we’ve had torrential, muggy, jungle feeling downpours for 3 days straight. The heat was not an issue. The mud, however, as you will hear… made life a little interesting (and a whole lot more fun).
I got to the race about an hour before the start to make sure I had plenty of time to do a warm-up, get my race packet, say hi to my peeps, use the bathroom, etc. Packet pick-up went great and I did my usual 3 mile (it takes me a really, really long time to feel warmed up… 4 miles is an even better warm-up for me but feels excessive) warm-up. During my warm-up the sky started dumping buckets of GIANT rain drops all over and I was instantly soaked from head to foot. So, that wasn’t fun. But! During my little jog I found clean, indoor bathrooms and was able to use those instead of waiting in a massive line for gross race porta-potties! Score! Found my friend/coach Paul, stashed my warmups and jacket in his car, did some strides and headed to the start.
The first mile was a lot of fun. It started downhill and wound around through a cute little neighborhood to the trails down by the river. I felt pretty good and came through the first mile in 7:15. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. I can rock 7:15s for a flat course, but a hilly course, in the rain and mud for a 5-miler… not so much.
Miles 2-3.5ish were on a rolling trail north of the bike trail where I do a ton of long runs. I had no idea that trail is down there and now that I know… I am SO going to run there all the time! This was actually my favorite part of the race. I fell in with a pack of women and we powered through the mud and puddles like we were born running cross country. I just had the best time splashing through the puddles, getting muddy and gritting it out. I felt like a little kid! The downside is that the mud was so thick we really, really slowed down through here. But it was so fun I almost didn’t care.
Miles 4-5 were not enjoyable. AT ALL. I was wet, soggy and starting to get tired from all of the rolling hills. And, the last 2 hills “The Beast” and “Last Gasp” came during these miles. I powered myself up them but it was not a quick situation and I lost a lot of time. But I’m pretty proud of myself that I hung tough and finished strong. There was a point where I started to enter the “puke threshold” and really backed off, but overall I felt decent during the race.
If you recall I had some goals for this race, so let’s review:
1. Have fun. A+. Done and done. Running through the mud was awesome and I had fun talking with the people I was running with.
2. Stay mentally tough. I think I earn a B+ on this one. I could have been a little tougher in the last couple of miles and I need to knock off the negative self talk in the middle miles.
3. Keep my arms down um, no. I was a little hill running, TRex of a runner 🙂
4. Establish a baseline time well that was going to happen no matter what. So, passing grade but no letter to my GPA 🙂
5. Run like hell. I did. I was aggressive on the flats and downhills and tried to keep my effort even on the uphills. I passed people, chose runners to pick off and considering how sore I am today, I’d say I succeeded. A.
After the race I hung out with my runner friends, did a cool down with the SUPER fast guys (um, their cooldown jog is my race pace… so I got 3 more miles in at that pace but whatever, it was fun), ate a banana (interestingly the only time I ever eat bananas is after a race), chugged some coffee to warm-up, watched the awards ceremony and headed to church. Yes, ladies and gentlement, I went to church muddy, soaking wet, sweaty, smelly and in my running clothes. My church is small and really casual but this was pushing it. Pretty much everyone made fun of me but they’re used to me in my running finery… I guess. Good thing we meet in a school so I can drip on the floor!
After church I put in 5 more miles since I missed my long run this week, FINALLY took a shower and just crashed for the rest of the day. Phew.
Overall a great time was had, the race was impecabbly organized and despite the rain I had a blast!