As I mentioned yesterday, I ran my first trail race this weekend. The Run with the Beavers Trail Race was at Casimir Pulaski Memorial State Park in Chepachet, RI. There was a 5 mile and 10 mile option. Registration was only $15 when I signed up last week, and several of my NP friends paid $5 over the winter. If only road races were that affordable…
When I first saw that NP people were running a race in Rhode Island, I didn’t even look at a map when I commented, “I’m in! It’s on my way to Jamestown.” The guy who posted about the event commented back, “You take an interesting way home…” Rhode Island is a tiny state but Chepachet is in the far left hand corner of the state on the Connecticut border. It was in the middle of nowhere, although I did go to Stop & Shop for bug spray on my way.
I left Boston around 6:45am Saturday (apparently bagel places open at 7am here so I had to go to Dunkin Donuts- the worst). The race was just over an hour away. When I got to the race around 8 for the 9am start, a lot of the other NP people were already there. The race was small with about 250 runners total, so the bib pickup process was easy. There were a couple of people sitting at a picnic table with a list of runners, you gave your name, and they handed you a bib. The end.
We hung around for a bit chatting until it was time to start. I’ve heard it from several people but had never experienced it for myself. Trail races are very low-key. We moseyed our way over to the start when they announced the race would be starting 15 minutes late due to traffic. They explained the course briefly and off we went. I think there was a gun, but I can’t remember.
I had no idea how I would do in a trail race. I am a very cautious person in general so I figured I’d be running much slower than my normal pace, but I had nothing to compare it to. It’s different than a cross country race because those aren’t technical, they’re just in the woods on a smooth trail. I only saw a few splits but the ones I saw ranged from 8:45-11.
The course was two five-mile loops. The first 1/2 mile was on a gravel road and then it went into a single-track course. There were fallen trees to jump over, small hills, steep downhills, and stunning views of a lake. Around mile 2.5 we were back on a gravel road where they had a water stop. They forgot to buy cups so they pulled together whatever they could find- mostly solo cups. The water was warm but it was 80 degrees out so I was happy with anything
We continued on the gravel road for a bit before heading back onto the more technical trails around mile 3. I made up time on the roads and then people would catch me on the trails. At mile 4 there was a tiny dirt hill and I stepped the wrong way with my right foot which caused a sharp pain in my knee. It was pretty painful but it felt okay after a few steps so I kept going. If it hurt or altered my gait, I would have stopped and walked to the finish.
After that, I was much more cautious and definitely slowed down significantly. I came through the 5 mile mark which was the finish line, grabbed water, and started loop 2. The second lap was much of the same, but I was trying to be more careful about my footing which in some ways made me trip more. The further into the race I got, the more times I rolled an ankle. At first it didn’t make much sense because we’d already run the loop once. Other people said the same thing, so it probably has to do with form breaking down as you get tired.
The last mile was the hardest part for me. I haven’t run more than 9 miles since last November and it was getting hotter. There was a semi-steep hill near the end that I did a walk-run up before someone from NP came up behind me and dragged me with him. We ran to the end.
They haven’t posted the results but I remember seeing 1:37:49 just before I crossed the line, so my guess is I was somewhere around 1:38. My watch has an auto-pause feature so every time I stopped for water, it would stop and take several seconds to catch up once I started running again, so my time isn’t accurate on that (it says I ran 1:36).
After the race ended, they did a mini-awards ceremony. One of the girls from NP came in 2nd (10 minutes faster than me) and got a little beaver for her trophy. They had some chips ahoy cookies, bananas, and fritos to munch on and then they asked random questions, such as who fell the hardest, to “raffle” off t-shirts, hydration belts, and more.
Overall this was a great experience and good practice for the trail race I’m running in San Francisco in December. I’m not sure I’m cut out for the trail racing life because I’m so injury-prone and I’m very cautious on non-paved surfaces. I do love how low-key the races are and how friendly everyone is, and that it’s impossible to worry about pace because every race is so different in terms of technicality. It’s a very different vibe from a road race where there is much more pressure and it felt like a relaxed run in the woods with friends.
Have you ever run a trail race?