North Trail Half and Long Run Recap

Yes, you read that blog title right.  No need to click back through my posts... yes, I ran a half May 1st, 7th, and 15th.  Yes, I have a racing problem.  No, I didn't plan to run this race... Yes, I give into peer pressure way too easily.  All the cool kids were doing it.

North Trail is a tiny half marathon put on by White Rock Racing.  There were maybe 100 people there.  And of course, our clan made up for a good portion of the party...

(Me, EW and Dana, Elaine, Libby, and Robin W)
EW is the one who started roping me in for this run, and then Libby clenched it when she mentioned that she needed to do her first 20-miler.  Since I had 20-22 on the schedule, well, that sealed the deal.
Libby and I met about an hour before race time at a lot that was just over 3 miles from the starting line.  I broke the golden rule of "nothing new on race day" because Libby brought me my lime North Texas Runners shirt.  Duh, of course I'm wearing it... check out the socks... come on!  I let Libby set the pace for the run in.  We kept it slow and steady.  We clocked in 3.28 miles on the run in and got a mini-preview of the course.  I loved this trail.  It's just north of the lake, and I didn't even know it existed.
I had time for a quick potty run and the above photo, and then we headed to the starting line.  The race started a little late, I believe due to some last minute changes to the course due to construction.  Anyhow, I was very happy to see that a guy was announcing paces and asking people to go to the start line when he called their pace.  Wow, smart move.  It was a narrow trail, and even with only 100 people, being lined up poorly could cause harsh starting conditions.  It made for a very smooth start.  I had already told Robin W, who has been itching for a 2:20, that I would be glad to run with her... otherwise, I'd take it easy since I had a lot more miles to do and already had 3.25 on my legs. 
We started out and just ran what felt good... which for the first mile, was a bit slow, but we steadily fell into a really nice pace.  I didn't look at my Garmin much.  The only thing I occassionally checked was to make sure the pace was below 10:40 min/mile to get Robin that goal time.  As long as we were below and running comfortably, we kept going.  The course was relatively flat, but felt like it had a very gradual uphill grade.  Just enough to confuse you and make it feel harder than you mentally think it should be.  And the quads could feel it.  We kept pushing along nice and steady until around mile 6 of the race when the ground decided shift and grab hold of my toe and send me flying into the pavement (my toe caught a metal rail that was connecting a bridge to the sidewalk).  I managed to keep myself from doing a face plant but when I hit my knees, I felt like I just kept skidding on them.  My body must've been in shock cause other than a minor sting, it didn't really hurt... I poured some water on it and just let the blood flow as I continued on (that was our worst mile and it was still only 10:59).  (The picture below is after it was cleaned up by medical at the finish.)
My first battle wounds.  I really didn't care about the bloody knees, I was just ready to plod on.  And so we did... it wasn't until around mile 9 or 10 that I noticed that the salty sweat was starting to make it sting and I could also feel the skin tightening which made it pull a bit while running.  But nothing major... keep on trucking.
Around mile 10, I was sure that Robin had this 2:20 in the bag.  Remember, I hadn't been looking at my watch much, so it wasn't until 10 or 11 that I started calculating in my head and realized she was going to have an awesome PR.  I was feeling a little tired, but nothing excessive.  I still felt pretty peppy.  So I just kept it steady in.  OK, I admit it... and Robin probably knows this... but I actually sped up that last mile because, well, there were two ladies in our sites, and well, you know me... I wanted us in their sites, not vice versa.  So the last mile was a 9:50... yeah, ok, I sped up.  Sorry!  And then, of course, I cannot stand to not sprint the finish.  I'm pretty sure Robin wasn't down with that idea, but she stayed right on my heels.  (Have I mentioned this is only her 4th half and her 1st was on April 11th?  She's done the same 3 in 3 weeks that I just did.)  Anyhow, I sprinted it in and then turned around to wait for Robin.  I didn't stop my watch until she crossed because this event was not chip timed and I wanted her to have an accurate number for her PR time.  A few seconds one way or the other didn't matter to me.  She came in at 2:16:32.  Her previous PR (set last week) was 2:25.  W-O-W.  This lady is a machine.  That's amazing.  She'll be leaving me in the dust in no time... she just started at this distance.  Unbelievable.
I gulped some water, refused some medical attention, rested for a couple of minutes, handed Robin W my medal, and headed back out onto the course... I ran out and had decided that I would run back in with either Elaine or Libby, whomever I found first.  I didn't want to add more than 2 miles on because with the distance back to the car, I would already be around 20.  On the way back out, the course was lonely.  It was such a small race that there was a lot of distance between runners.  Motivation can be tough when you are out there and feeling alone on the course.  Right around 0.9 miles, I found Elaine.  Perfect distance.  Elaine, unlike me, is not a buddy-runner... so I asked her before turning if she minded if I ran in with her.  Turns out that the loneliness of the course had been wearing on her a bit, and she was up for the company and even let me jibber-jabber the whole way back in.  (And trust me, she knows me well enough to tell me to shut up if she needs to!)  She pushed in with a great time and ended up with 3rd place Athena.  Rockin'!!!
Not too much later Libby came in... she also convinced me to go ahead and let medical clean up my knees.  It was just saline but seriously... wow... ouch.  (Yes, I'm whining over scraped knees... despite knowing that there are lots of bloggers right now who have suffered much worse... eek... I can't imagine.)
We only rested for a minute.  In fact, I didn't even remember to re-fill my water bottle... and neither of us ate anything.  Not too smart.  We headed back out towards the car.  We made it about a mile in, and Libby just wasn't feeling well.  I think we were both a little underfueled.  After a little bit of walking together, Libby asked me to go on (particularly because my marathon is in 3 weeks... for her, this was her first of 3 20-milers for a marathon in 11 weeks).  So I went on, and I ran the rest of the way back to the car.  I was a smidge short on mileage still... so I ran back out to Libby after I hit the car, and then I walked it in with her (she only had about half mile left by time I got back to her).  I needed the walk to aid recovery anyhow. 
In total, I tallied 22.15 miles.  And I actually felt pretty great.  Other than some pain in my rear-end (seriously... stupid glutes)... I feel fine.
Today, the knees have tightened and they actually look worse and feel worse... but it seems to just be flesh, so it should heal soon enough.  Other than that and this stupid glute, I feel fine.  The stairs aren't even bothering me.  I'm quite shocked how good I feel after 22 miles despite all the short breaks scattered into that run.  I had an appointment with Dr. Magic Hands today and he tore into that glute, and I'm fairly certain its more sore now... but I'm confident it'll feel improved tomorrow.
Back to the grind tomorrow... taper starts Saturday... woo-hoo!!!
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