I spent the weekend driving back and forth to Mendon Ponds Park, for the Dirt Cheap Stage Races (3 trail races in 2 days). Last year a lot of my trail running friends did the series as well, but this year it was pretty much just me. That didn’t stop the race from being awesome though!
Stage 1 – Start time was 9 am on Saturday. It was a 3.1 hilly time trial. We lined up according to our bib # and were started individually every 5 seconds. It was a tough race, my legs didn’t have much juice and I was having some stomach issues… I thought I was going to lose it during the last mile. Time wen’t out the window and my goal was to just keep moving. My time wasn’t horrible, about a minute or 2 slower than last year… could have been worse!
Results – I was 56 overall out of 162 — 6th female — 3rd in age group — Time was 29:56
Stage 2 – Start time was 1 pm – also on Saturday. It was 5 miles, slightly less hilly but still had a couple good ones in there. It’s the same course we run for the Dirt Cheap Trail Races. I started out good, but ran into stomach issues again! I slowed down and eventually it got better. My time was again about a minute slower than last year.
Results – I was 39th overall out of 182 — 4th female — 3rd in age group — Time was 42:54
Stage 3 – Start time was 9 am on Sunday. This was the epic 11 miler, which takes up most of the park… including all the hills. I had no expectations for this stage. Saturday night my stomach was still upset from the day of racing… Sunday morning it still felt weird. So I decided I wouldn’t try anything crazy, I just wanted to earn my hoodie! (finishers of all 3 stages get a hoodie).
I started out easy – my plan was to take the first half super easy. I was trying to stay behind this girl runner in the beginning, and told myself not to pass her… but then she started walking up a hill and I passed her… argh! My goal was to run easy so that I’d have enough juice to run the hills too. Hills are where I lose a lot of time, especially if I walk them. (backtrack to Sunday morning quick – I re-read the article about how to run hills efficiently on TrailRunner Mag I think that helped me so much!)
My legs felt awesome during Stage 3, which blew my mind. Going easy went out the window thanks to all the down hills…. I figured might as well let gravity help me out. Somewhere after mile 5 I passed a friend I had been chasing for a while… never thought Id catch them. After I Passed them I was on my own, I made it to my favorite part of trail running. No mans land! It’s a crazy feeling to be in a race and have no one in sight behind or in front of you. It’s my favorite! I was also excited because I was over half way through the race and I was in a grove… It was an awesome feeling. I made it to this bog area where it gets really technical… first few steps I go flying. I did not expect a head dive to the ground… I found it kind of funny and got up immediately. After the bog came more hills. Some of them I couldn’t run up, my legs couldn’t do it. But the down hills always got me going again.
One thing I was thinking during the race – Trail running you can go from feeling great, to no juice in seconds. But then you can bounce back and get back in a grove. I’ve never had a 2nd wind while road running, but trail running I feel like you get a dozen 2nd winds!
This was an awesome race to boost my confidence. I feel like I’ve been beaten down mentally from racing, since the last 2 were very rough Marathons. This weekend was refreshing. It was also fun talking to new people, made a couple trail runner friends!
Results of Stage 3 – I was 28th overall — 3rd female — 2nd in age group — Time was 1:37:53 (about 27 seconds faster than last year 🙂 )
Overall Series Results – I was 31 overall out of 154 — 3rd female out of 58 — 2nd in age group out of 7 — Overall time for all 3 races 2:50:43 (last year was 2:48:24)
I am excited to really start trail running. I need a lot of hill training… but it will be exciting to notice improvements! I’m not much of a trail runner in the winter, hopefully this winter I can get out there. I may have to resort to inclination treadmill running as noted in Inclination for speed (I LOVE this article!)