Nothing more unnerving than being a thing.
-Dorothea Lasky, Milk
My first attempt at a longer trail race…was an experience. Not quite unnerving, but felt very much like I didn’t want to be a body. I ran the Hyner Trail Half Marathon yesterday. Quite a few people gave me useful, practical advice beforehand about the course and the climbs, yet the real time experience left me feeling deceased by mile 5. It was a 14 mile race—those last 9 miles were straight guts / wondering if I was a ghost.
I had a little pity party on Strava, so I’d rather focus on additional pieces of the race that struck me in a positive way:
- PA Trail Dogs put on such a fun race—from clear communication about how to get to the start in a remote area to delightful folks at the aid stations. I am keeping tabs of more races they host throughout the year. The group maintains Central PA trails, and at the adult races, they use proceeds to fund trail races for kids.
- Pennsylvania trail runners absolutely crush descents. I was told to watch for this before the race, and then every time I saw it happen as I was passed, I would tell the runner they were incredible.
- Bless the aid stations. I took a spill on a root of a flat section about a half mile before the mile 8 aid station. Correct, I didn’t fall on a technical section. I paused to try to decide if I should just call it an 8 mile training run. I had pickle juice, ginger ale, and then one of the volunteers looked at me while I was sipping coke and said “want some Fireball?” I added some in my soda. This is not a road race, kids.
- It was not the final climb (so many steep climbs, I misunderstood the elevation chart and expected more rolling hills, my bad), but there was a climb again after the mile 11 aid station. As I stared at the ascent, the speaker at the station started playing “Come Out and Play.” The rage of The Offspring came when I needed it. I did not exactly charge up the hill in my state, but it was a decent effort.
- A man was playing a banjo and drinking from a growler around mile 12— other runners acknowledged him so I know I wasn’t hallucinating. I told him he was doing it right, we had a brief laugh.
- I have such a good time with my brother. I was talking about Wineglass and how I never want to hear a race is net downhill ever again, so after I finished Hyner he was like “Well, this race was net downhill. The finish is below the start line.” LOL I had a good laugh in my frustrated post-race mood.
- Lighter shoes are not always better. I definitely wore the wrong shoes. No, a different shoe wouldn’t take me from a 14 minute-mile struggle descent on switchbacks to an 8 minute-mile send-it, but my toes were not protected enough in my beloved Adidas Terrex Speed Ultra. I thought “race” and brought them, but I should have brought my Altras (I don’t know the model because I bought them so long ago, they are basically Hummers for my feet). My toes were tenderized by all the slamming downhill early in the race. They needed more protection on the descents.
I’ve already debriefed a bit with my coach, and I’m excited to add more long trail efforts to my training and to hit more races. I love the controlled chaos of trail running, and the camaraderie after. I’ll take a few days off, then be back out there logging longer miles for bigger goals, and having a good time with the Faster Bastards Oberhills crew.
Books I’m thinking about / recently read:
- Milk by Dorothea Lasky
- The 2000s Made Me Gay by Grace Perry
- I’m So Fine by Khadijah Queen
Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.