Name of the race: Brookhaven Trail 15K
Where: Brookhaven Park, Wading River, NY
Date: April 10, 2016
Terrain: Non-technical trail with stretches of sandy trails, rolling hills
Entry free: $25 (pre-registration before March 20th), $30 day of
Swag: Tech t shirt for pre-registrants and free race photos
Post-race Food: Orange & grapefruit slices, water, and Gatorade
Performance: Overall 71/127; Gender 22/56; Age (35-39) 4/10
Weather: 37 degrees, 32% humidity, winds at 16 mph
I entered this race at the last minute because I wanted to do another long run that weekend. I ran 10 miles with PPTC, which went very very well. I was pleased and I thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a high volume week (high volume for me). I chose a trail race because 1) I like trail races, 2) the softer ground would be kinder to my legs and feet, and 3) I wouldn’t be freaking out about pace the way I do for road races. I have a fondness for trail races, even though I really suck at them. I run them far slower than what would be predicted from my road races, even taking into consideration terrain difficulty.
It was a small field, not unexpected since it was the inaugural race. It was very well-organized and well thought out. You knew that the race director was a runner himself and put on the type of race that he would want to do. As you enter the park, the road to the parking lot was decorated with funny “You know you’re a runner when” jokes (and more along the course too).
There was even a PR bell waiting for us at the start line, which confused me slightly. I thought they were only found at finish lines when you got a PR. I guess this one was to ring if you hoped for a PR?
The race director debriefed us on the layout of the course and then we were off. The course was very well marked with race tags and tape at intersections where the trail split off. Basically if you got lost, you were working really hard to do it. My legs were tired from the previous day’s run, so my idea was just to take it easy and enjoy myself. I relaxed and tried to look at nature and absorb the nice cool spring weather.
As fair as trail races go, the trail was non-technical. At no point was the trail narrow and single file. It was always “wide” for a trail and pretty well-groomed. There weren’t major roots and rocks that you had to watch out.
At around Mile 6, I was running along at a nice little clip on a nice flat packed dirt trail when I round the corner and bam! All of a sudden I hit a sandy stretch of the trail. And when I say sandy, I don’t mean a little sandy. I mean, sandy as in the loose sand you have on a beach. Plus it was uphill. I swore aloud and immediately decided to powerwalk up the hill. I knew it would be a waste of energy to run. It wasn’t the only sandy part of the trail, there were others, but this one was the worst of it because it was also uphill.
Although the weather was on the cool side, when we were out in the full sun, I got quite warm. I think I need more water than the average runner. I’m always happy that I run with my Simple Hydration bottle because this way I can drink whenever I feel like it. I think I would have been uncomfortable if I relied solely on aid stations (this goes for all races, not just this one).
During Miles 8 and 9, I worked to slowly reel in runners who had passed me earlier. When I do this, I study a runner for a few minutes to gauge how quickly they’re running. If they’re keeping the same pace or slowing down, I try to guess how long it’ll be until I pass them. It keeps my brain busy and not thinking about pain, or hunger, or fatigue, or anything else I don’t want/need to be thinking about at that moment. Plus it motivates me to move a little faster because I’m weak in the end game.
After I caught a handful of runners, I was alone for the last half mile or so. Finally through the trees I could hear the blaring music coming out of speakers. It was “Eye of the Tiger.” I sprinted the best I could so I could live up to lyrics that greeted me as I approached the finish line.
After the race, there were buckets and buckets of slices oranges and grapefruit that I gorged on. The grapefruit was especially good. It was perfect in quenching my thirst. I hung out a little waiting to see results to see if I got an age group award, despite running slowly. There was a tiny bit of hope because the field was small, but no, I was nowhere close (in terms of time). This was fine. I’ll just bottomfeed another day.