Saturday, July 10, 2010
On Saturday, I ran Dances with Dirt - Devil's Lake Trail Half Marathon. This race also had a marathon, 50K, 50 miler, and 100K relay. I was running the wimpy option.
While I have been running trails for as long as I have been running, this was my first trail race and wow, did I pick a good one! I knew I was getting myself into some serious trail. This would be significantly more difficult than the trails I normally run. I've been hiking at Devil's Lake since I was a kid, so I was familiar with the area. It's a beautiful place.
For those of you from Runner's World who were talking about running the race but didn't, you missed out on an amazing time! By far one of the best races I've done to date. Despite a strangely fitting shirt (which I was able to exchange for a different size later) and a bib with no holes on top, this was well run and well organized race.
I didn't have any goals for this race other than to finish, have a good time and take pictures. I have to say that I accomplished that.
Me and my friends who also ran the race. (And finished way before me.)
People milling around before the race.
The half marathon was the last race to start in the morning at 7:30. I arrived around 6:45am and parking was a breeze (we parked in a big field.) Made use of the portapottys and milled around until it was time to start. Lined up at the back of the pack and we were off.
Jogged with the mass of people for about 2 minutes before we came to a stop. Over 300 people all needed to jam onto a singletrack trail, so there was some waiting involved. Garmin tells me I had to wait about 2 minutes and 40 seconds for people to filter through and get going again. After about a half a mile, we were on the Ice Age Trail and climbing. We went up. And up. And up. The first two miles are entirely uphill. I power walked the entire hill and was dripping with sweat after just a few minutes. Amanda and Jason both told me it was "okay to walk the hills" during a trail race. I had to laugh, because I have no idea how anyone would be able to run this.
Elevation at start = 869 ft
Elevation 2 miles in = 1,529 ft
Once we made it to the top of a section called Parfrey's Glen, we kept going up and down. Eventually back down a lot. I settled into running with 3 other women who were going at the same pace. It was nice to have the conversation and the miles ticked. (If any of you are reading this, THANK YOU! It was great to run with you.) Before I knew it, we were at the first aid station. I was wearing my Camelbak, so I was drinking as I ran, but I grabbed some Gatorade and headed back into the woods.
These rocks were not the best surface to run on.
But there was cool rocks to look at!
I lost my three running partners here, but was enjoying the scenery. I walked any uphills and ran the flats and downhills. Took a GU at some point. I pulled out my camera around mile 6 and started taking pictures, because I knew we'd get some really scenic views soon. The reward of the climb was worth it! Soon I arrived at the aid station on the cliff. You actually had to climb a bit to get there. It had amazing views. Don't look down! I ate a fig newton and drank some water.
The view once we were up top.
Getting to the aid station.
Aid station on a cliff!
Leaving the aid station.
After the second aid station, a group of us took a short detour - also known as getting lost. As we were running along, someone called out, "Has anyone seen any orange flags recently?" (The HM course was following orange flags.) No one had, so we turned around and eventually found the right way again.
You can just see Devil's Lake in the background.
Possibly going the wrong way. Pink ribbons do not equal orange ribbons.
Back on track.
I was running along quite nicely at this point in the race and was possibly beginning to hallucinate because I started thinking about running the marathon here next year. Thankfully, those thoughts were short lived. My body started getting tired about 8-9 miles in. We were slowly going back uphill. I probably should have taken another GU here, but I didn't. We ran through some muddy sections and I heard a scream behind me - the mud had sucked off a girl's shoe and she was hopping around. I had to laugh.
Very pretty running.
Trail closed? Don't mind if I do!
Crossed over some bridges.
More great trail.
We started to climb again during mile 10 and my running buddies from before found me. We settled into a rhythm again, this time with me leading, but no one talked much. I think we were all exhausted. I called out miles from my Garmin and we all wondered when we'd be getting to the downhill portion.
This was difficult to run down.
Then after hitting an elevation of around 1,600, it was alllll downhill to the finish line. The downhill actually hurt worse than the uphill. I was thankful to have young joints and young knees. We saw many people paused on the trail because their bodies just needed a break from all the pounding. We hit some sand and I skidded and took a tumble. My first one of the race. Cut up my thumb a bit, but it's not a good trail run until you're bleeding, right?
About a mile from the end, I stumbled over a root or a rock or who knows what and twisted my ankle. I didn't fall, but yowch, that hurt! I tested it and was able to put weight on it, so I just kept on trucking down that hill. Finally I saw sunlight and we burst out of the woods onto a dirt road. I didn't have much of a finishing kick, but I managed to pick up the pace to normal running for the last bit.
The crowd support for the back of pack half marathon finishers was great. I really appreciated their enthusiasm and good jobs. The people at this race were spectacular. I love trail runners and the whole community.
I finished, got my medal and DWD shot glass. Age Group winners got some pretty awesome beer mugs. Post-race we soaked our feet in a lake, drank free beer, and had an amazing lunch.
Soaking our feet in the lake felt so good!
I'm actually not too muddy.
We made it! My friend on the right took 10th woman overall.
Free Spotted Cow and delicious food.
I forgot to turn my Garmin off auto-pause, so Garmin gives me a time of 3:12:06 for 13.72 miles.
Official time was 3:19:52. About an hour slower than my road half marathon PR.
Mile 1 - 14:53
Mile 2 - 18:31
Mile 3 - 13:03
Mile 4 - 13:43
Mile 5 - 13:11
Mile 6 - 13:04
Mile 7 - 14:00
Mile 8 - 12:59
Mile 9 - 13:37
Mile 10 - 14:20
Mile 11 - 16:27
Mile 12 - 13:19
Mile 13 - 12:05
Last .72 - 11:55 pace
My whole body hurt for days afterward, but I loved it all. I definitely recommend any of the Dances with Dirt races if you're up for a challenge.