Adjusting a Goal

When I signed up for the Wabash Heritage Trail (Quarter) Marathon, I guessed I would be a bit slower than a typical 10K race pace. I have never officially run a 10K, but I am guessing I could finish a race in about 50 minutes (or at least very close to that – I think I’ve done like 52 minutes in training runs). I had never done any serious trail running before (there is about 1/4 mile of trail near my house that isn’t paved), but I had read a teeny tiny bit about trail running, and it said I would have to go slower, so I guessed I’d have to slow down and settle with a goal of finishing the race in about an hour.

My new goal: finish without getting injured and have a nice time. I mean, I’m guessing I’ll finish in about 1:10-1:15 minutes based on my runs yesterday and today, so I guess I theoretically have a time “goal” (more like a guesstimate of when I will finish), but the last two days of running the actual trail will the race will occur have taught me a lot. And it’s only been 2 days!

I mentioned yesterday that I was slower, and that my friend (who does cross-country skiing and orienteering and is all around more athletic and outdoorsy than me, so this is to be expected) was a bit faster than me. Today, however, I was lagging WAY behind her. Like, I was running so hard I was gasping for breath and she was having to stop to wait for me. She was worried I was embarrassed, and I was a little, but mostly I just felt like an ass in my head for thinking that trail running would only be a “little” harder. Now that I realize how difficult it is, I feel less embarrassed and more ready to face a new challenge! I also felt bad that she probably couldn’t enjoy the run as much because she had to keep waiting up for me! Then again, it is probably because we did over THREE THOUSAND feet of climbing. WTF!?

I had 10 miles on the schedule today, and I had thought about cutting a bit off since she and I ran 7 yesterday and I was only scheduled for 5, so I told her that maybe we should run about the same distance we did yesterday. We took a slightly different route on the trail, though, and wound up getting back to our cars at about mile 5. I was so exhausted from being on the trail that I could not fathom another mile on there and told her we didn’t need to worry about meeting my training goal. Instead, I headed back to my house to run my second 5 miles on a regular running path. It’s very enlightening to see the difference in my pace:

The five miles on trails: mile 3 was a climb up a mountain, and mile “6” (the last few yards) was precariously crossing a stream to get back to our cars, which explains the exceptionally bad paces there.

The five miles on a paved path. You can see that these are more in line with my long run pace (9:00-9:30/mile)…and this was the second half of my run, after I was already exhausted from climbing up giant hills!

I think I could get used to trail running and come to enjoy it quite a bit, after I get better at it. Already today, I found myself a bit more able to find my footing (it seems to help to look a few feet ahead instead of right at my feet, which I would have known had I done ANY research on trail running) and I managed to not get any additional injuries. There are also some nice things that you will see when running on a trail that you rarely (if ever) see on roads/sidewalks/paths. For example, we saw a deer today. I have seen them before on the paved section of this trail near my house, but it’s a pretty rare sight, whereas I see them almost every time I go on a real trail (like for hikes). Also, I got to take this picture:

It may not be the prettiest, but it’s about as pretty as Indiana gets.

To end this post, one funny store about climbing up the mountain to get this photo. While on a different section of the trail, my friend pointed towards the place where I am standing to take this photo and told me we could try a new section of the trail, where we would end up at the top of the clearing we could see. I thought she meant we were going to run up the grassy area that is cleared out between the trees and I was like “ok…but I cannot run up that hill.” I didn’t realize she meant there was a far less steep path through the woods that we could take and I could actually run up!

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