This race had a later start with it being New Year’s Day and cold. So, I didn’t have to leave the house until 8:15 AM. I decided to layer with a long sleeved tech shirt under a half zip tech jacket with thumb holes. I only wish it had a zipped front pocket and not open. I wore my older shoes that had previously been worn to the half at this trail area. They got very muddy last time and I had a feeling they would again. I made my usual stop at Starbucks for a tall Pumpkin Spice Latte. They were more crowded than usual due to it being later in the morning. I was in my car and on my way to the Anne Springs Close Greenway before 8:30. Since I had been there before, I was familiar with the entrance we were using. It’s not one of the more popular ones. I got there just before 9 AM. Check in was in a covered pavilion with a fireplace. They had the fire going and several people were hanging out
there. I had no problem checking in and getting my bib. They also gave out these strings with jingle bells on them to go with the race theme. Knowing I was at the back and because I love dressing up, I grabbed a nice red and green string and put it around my neck like a necklace. I figured they could hear me coming and know I was still there. It was cold so I decided to wait the next 20 minutes in my car. I finished up my latte and checked my email. With 30 minutes to go, I decided to use the nice heated bathrooms close to the pavilion. Then I went back to hang out at the pavilion until start time. I got a nice lady to take my before picture. Everyone running and organizing this race was very friendly and encouraging. I also saw the awards table with all the hand bells. It’s a great idea for a theme.
With about 10 minutes to go, they had us all move to the start area. There is also a 5k to this race. It started after the 14k. I lined up in the back with another lady who thought she would be at the end. The organizer who had told me she would be at the back if she wasn’t volunteering came up to us both and gave us a high five and encouragement.
Soon, the starting gun sounded and we were off. This course was slightly different than the half. One was since it’s a shorter distance and I think also because of the rain they tried to stay away from the really muddy areas. We ran down a gravel road to a field. Here we did a loop and made our way back to the first swinging bridge. That was at about Mile 2, I think. My GPS didn’t keep up well with the elevation on the trails. The 5k runners do not do the loop. I ran under the bridge as the front 5kers were already across. Some chose to run through the water, I opted to use the bridges. After crossing the bridge, we all ran the same trails in another loop back towards the bridge. I briefly saw and waved to the other 14k lady.
When we got back to the bridge, the 5kers crossed again and the 14kers did a sharp left onto more trails. We had to go under a road at one point. At 45 minutes, I had my first GU. I was a little slower, but keeping up my intervals good at this point. There were some places we had to step over trees on the ground and several steeper up and down areas, but nothing that felt terrible. I hadn’t seen anyone since the separation, so I decided to just enjoy my run and take some pictures along the way. This was when I got to the bridge you had to cross.
On the other side of the bridge, I came to be running along the side of a creek.
I noticed there were trails on the other side. Several times on this stretch, I saw racers on the other side. A few of them noticed or heard me and waved in greeting. Somewhere along this section was the mill stone. It’s supposed to be good luck to touch it as you go by. I made sure to do just that. There was one more bridge around this creek before we got to the access road area and the water stop. I got Gatorade and stopped to drink it so I could use the trash bag. I did not want to litter in the greenway. The guys at the stop were very friendly and encouraging. Oh, one guy actually ran past me on my way here that I believe had been a volunteer at the first bridge section. They told me I was halfway done. At that point, my GPS was only slightly behind halfway. After the water stop, there was a foot bridge and then we came to the Old Mill building. We run around this and then the really hilly area starts.
Briefly it’s not as hilly because we’re on the opposite side of the creek. There were a couple points were the path was narrow and I had to pay attention. Once we got off the path by the creek, there was some pretty muddy sections. I was glad I was last so I could see the footprints. I was able to avoid most of the mud. I did tend to walk through those areas and the steeper climbs. I still generally kept to my intervals, though. Soon, I went back under the road on the opposite side of the creek. I think it was muddiest between this and the lake. There are a bunch of horse trails and those tend to be muddy. I did notice some new building right next to the greenway. I also noticed some stables by the greenway. It must be convenient for them to take the horses for a walk.
Eventually I made it to the lake. As I was starting around, I saw an older man and the lady I started with on the other side. My GPS had fallen behind and I didn’t realize it, so I thought I was going too slowly. I did my best to run every downhill at that point. I had another GU just before I reached the lake parking area. We crossed this area and I veered a little to use the trash can. As I got to the other side of the lake, I was starting to see people that I thought I had seen before the start. I knew I had to be close even though my GPS said otherwise. We turned off the lake path onto a gravel road. It is at a pretty decent uphill slope. I knew this would lead me to the end, so I walked it. When I got to the split rail fence around the bathrooms, I ran it in. I knew I was the last one, but I was happy I was able to keep up my intervals to the end. The last time I tweaked my ankle and walked the last 3 miles. The bells around my neck let everyone hear me coming. So, I had a few people cheering me in.
The photographer had me recreate my finish so he could get it.
Then, I heard my kids. My husband had brought the kids to see me finish. They ran up and hugged me which the photographer also captured. My son immediately went to play with some other boys. My daughter wanted me to carry her and ate the skittles they had at the end. They did have quite a spread of food left. I know there were bagels, chips, skittles, cookies, and also water, Gatorade, and hot beverages. They even handed me one of the bell awards. I anticipated finishing in about 2 hours. I thought I was running much slower, but ended up with an official time of 2:11:16. I finished last of the 64 racers of the 14k and only 11 minutes behind the other lady. I was happy with that. If anyone is ever in the area, these races are well marked and the volunteers are great. Typically only the top 3 in each age group get an award, but the course itself is lovely. I will definitely do another one of their races when it fits in my schedule.