Today my friend Keith and I ran the Uwharrie Mountain Run in Uwharrie Mountain National Forest. Three races are run in one day - a 40 miler, a 20 miler, and an 8-miler. I was a single-digit racing gal.
In a word, the course was intense. There were quite a few times I was heaving heavier than I ever came close to on my marathon. LOTS of hills. Lots of mud. Lots of leaves, rocks, fallen trees, stumps, roots, and hidden dangers. But it was FUN. I let go on some of the downhills and really got up some speed (for me). I tried to be smart and walk most of the uphills. That's a trick taught me by ultra-marathoners. You typically expend more energy running the uphills than you gain in time, so it's better to walk them.
I fell once, but it was minor. I was walking over a log and put my foot down in muddy leaves and lost my footing. Caught myself on my hands before I went all the way down. Also got my left foot wet in the creek, but it dried almost instantly.
I was pooped by mile 5. Just wished it was over. What saved me is that I attached myself to two women running in front of me. I think one woman was a trainer for the other. She kept calling back advice like, "Okay, use your arms here and keep your core steady." Or, "We're going to run 50 paces up and then walk." It was like having my own trainer on the trail. They got me through most of the last 2 miles. (They stopped for water and I passed them in the end. Feel kind of bad about that as I wouldn't have gone as fast if not for them. But c'mon... you're less than a half mile from the finish. Water can wait.)
By my watch, I finished the course in 1: 37:55, almost 10 minutes faster than our trial run a few weeks ago. Keith and I agreed that it felt like we were running much faster than on our practice run. However, the first two miles were clogged with runners and and had to be walked single file. I think it took 28 minutes just to clear those two miles. After that, the group spread out and the running began.
Would I do it again? Probably. Although, I found myself thinking at a couple of points on the trail that I wasn't enjoying it. Not because I was tired, but because the trail is so technical and I just stayed nervous about falling. Maybe I don't have trail running blood...
I'm sore tonight. Much more so than after my 15-mile run of last weekend. My body feels pounded. You can't beat trail running for a total body workout. It's more than running--you're jumping, leaping, balancing, stretching... They also say it's easier on the joints. Maybe. All I know is, I am going to go become one with a bottle of Ibuprofen.