I had not raced in three months. The desire to do it was just not there. We’d been saving money for other things and it didn’t seem worth it. The only races available in South Louisiana after Easter are 5Ks, and I really hate 5Ks.
But I had missed out on doing the Spillway Classic Trail Race last year, and I didn’t want to miss it again. The race fee was about to increase. So I bit the bullet and registered, forking over $25.
Saturday night as I debated skipping the race – what would have been my first DNS – because I really, really didn’t feel like going, it was the non-refundable $25 that made me end up doing it. Not fear that I’d regret skipping, even though I would have. It was not wanting to have wasted money.
So I got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday and eventually made my way to the race site, almost turned around when I saw police directing people to drive over the levee, and then sucked it up and followed everyone. Parked in mud and prayed I wouldn’t get stuck trying to leave.
Picked up my bib and race shirt, which was cute (albeit cotton) female-cut. I really like the color.
I made my way to the start line, listened to people chatter around me, and just kept thinking in my head, “Let’s get this over with, let’s get this over with.”
The emcee kept referring to “the gauntlet” and I was curious to see what that was. I knew the trail would be muddy (and I had worn my least-favorite running shirt and black Nike Tempos and my least favorite old running shoes), but “the gauntlet” sounded intriguing.
Finally, the race started, and I set out at a fast but comfortable pace. I did not wear a Garmin or iPod or anything – au naturel.
The first mile was on the levee, and it sprinkled a little but never full out rained. Eventually we were directed to run down the levee into the woods to our left, and I heard hoops and hollers ahead of me, by people I assumed were entering “the gauntlet.”
This was the gauntlet:
A decent length of muddy water, mostly up to the calves but there were some spots where it went up to the hips, probably, if you stepped in the right place. A girl running next to me at one point almost fell and I instinctively reached over to balance her as she gripped my arm.
After we got through the gauntlet, it was a typical dirt trail, extra muddy at some points but nothing too slippery. My biggest worry had been that I would slip and fall – I saw lots of people wearing duct tape wrapped around their shoelaces – I assumed this was to keep water out of their shoes as best as possible, but I didn’t see how it would be very effective, and I was worried the tape at the bottom of my shoes would lessen their grip on the ground so I passed on the tape.
On the trail you had to run pretty much single file for the most part – I did pass a few people running, and passed several people who had stopped to walk. The 3 miles went by fast because of the changes in the course and also because on the trail you have to pay attention to every step so you don’t fall – so that leaves less time to zone out or start wondering how far you’ve gone or how much is left.
Sprinted to the finish and came in at 29:09 – obviously not my best 5K time, but my best TRAIL 5K time (Since it’s my only trail 5K time 🙂
46th woman out of 380+ so not that shabby.
At the end, I was glad I didn’t skip out, and I always knew I’d be glad I went once it was over. It’s just getting through the “before” and not psyching yourself out that you have to overcome.