I got up at 6:45 AM to get ready. I grabbed a piece of toast with peanut butter along with a GU gel, LUNA bar, Gatorade Prime, and Gatorade recover. I also grabbed a bottle of water to leave in the car for after. I got to the Greenway entrance about 7:20 AM. There was a person at the entrance checking if you were with the race, asking if you were a member, and taking your zip code. He directed me to park in the field next to him just before the pavilion. It was rather chilly so I decided to wear my long sleeved shirt with my Sparkle Tech pink skirt, compression leg sleeves and Asics shoes. I would later wish I had layered my short sleeved shirt under it. I went to the pavilion and quickly and easily got my number and tech shirt. The people were very nice. Since it was so chilly, I went back and sat in my car. About 30 minutes before start, I went to use the restroom in a small building next to the pavilion. There were 3 unisex bathrooms and a shower in this building. The building felt like a sauna compared to the outside. I went back to my car. About 8:10, I drank my Gatorade Prime and made sure I had my watch on. I got out of my car and went by the pavilion. I learned there were only about 14 people signed up before race day for the 8k. The half marathon wasn’t that large of a crowd either, only 51. At just before 8:30, we all lined up by the cones that were the start line. The director gave us a last minute run through of the course and warned us not to run over the swinging bridges as they would cause people to be thrown off. Then we started.
I started running at the back knowing I was going to be slower than everyone. The start is down a gravel road and onto a larger path. I easily ran this section up to the first swinging bridge. At this point I still had a few people behind me. After the bridge, I started my intervals on my watch. I ran 2:1 intervals. At my first walk break, the few people behind me passed me. At this point I knew I would most likely finish last. By the second mile, I couldn’t see anyone else. The course was a winding trail most of the way with almost no flat parts. The 8k race started after us. However, they split off before Mile 4 to cut off a loop. The lead runner passed be just before the cut off. At some time between Mile 3 & 4 was the first water stop. It was at a point where the half marathon does a loop around the Middle and Elementary schools. I stopped briefly to drink a cup of Gatorade and refill my water bottle. I continued on the loop. Even though I was all by myself, the run was nice. There were so many roots across the path that I had to concentrate on my footing and couldn’t truly enjoy the surroundings. It was very peaceful, though. The next water stop was when we passed the recreation complex. We went through a tunnel under a road just before reaching it. There was a couple with a little boy at this water stop. I chatted with them briefly while I drank another Gatorade. They told me I looked good and at this point I still felt good. The course went through another tunnel under a road before coming back to the point in the loop.
Shortly after completing the loop, the course went around an old building where I found 2 older couples taking pictures. At this point I start losing memory. I do know there was a lot of mud from the rain 2 days earlier between Mile 8 and 10. It made the going slow since I would rather slow down than run through mud if I can help it. This was where being last helped. I could see where everyone else had stepped and chose the best path. Just before Mile 10, I did end up in one puddle up to my ankle. It was the only one that was unavoidable. Somewhere after Mile 10, I reached the lake. The path around the lake wasn’t too bad. The 8k continued around the lake where the half marathon takes a little extra loop out into a very hilly area. When I tried to start running again after all the mud, I tripped and landed on my hands and knees. This is where I realized my legs were gone and running could end up in injury. So, I made the decision to walk the last 3 miles. This was the 5th time I tripped. The first 4 I was able to get my balance before I fell. I did trip a sixth time before the finish. Also, there were about 6 bridges on the course. If I remember correctly, 3 were the swinging kind that you really needed to walk across. A couple more were only slightly better than a board across the water. While I was resigning myself to the walk around the lake, I noticed a lot of other people on the trails. The weather had warmed enough that I wished I would have been able to take off my long sleeved shirt. I knew at Mile 11 that I would not match my Princess Half Marathon timing. At that point, I was just hoping for a sub-4 hour time. On the last part, you turn onto a gravel road. I knew I had to be close to the end. I came up to the split rail fence that I knew was by the pavilion. To my surprise, there were still several people there. Two saw me coming and encouraged me. They assured me the end was just around the bend in the fence. I jogged from there to the end.
My final time was 3:52. I beat 4 hours by 8 minutes. I finished a full 45 minutes after the previous person. I was warmly greeted and told they had saved me pizza and had Gatorade left. To be honest, I think they had a little of everything left. I grabbed a piece of pizza and chatted with 2 people one of which was at a water stop on the course before. Everyone there was friendly. They gave me their opinions on the area races. I told them even though I had a rough race, I think I prefer the trail races. It’s just so peaceful and the nature made it interesting the whole way. I would definitely do this race again. I’ll just make sure I train more for the hills first. Oh, the person recording the times also gave me one of the remaining awards for finishing last. It was a nice water bottle with a clamp that had the ASC logo on it.