At the beginning of December (2014) I ran another trail race, the Sycamore 8. It is a race put on by The Capital Striders. I forgot that I had mentioned on Facebook that I was running it and at Christmas everyone asked me about it. I filled them in and wanted to let you know about it as well.
I spent November recovering from the GOATZ 50k. I may have mentioned this previously but after the race was over I didn't feel like running for a while. I didn't even want to run. When I finally went out for the first few times the runs were short and easy and actually quite hard. I was still fatigued. Eventually I was able to go out for a 4 or 5 mile without needing a nap. I ran by feel. I ran where I wanted to and how I wanted to and I ran the hills just to see if I could. There wasn't any pressure or any goal. Just go run.
Finally I decided I would sign up for the Sycamore 8 race. I have run on the first half many times and knew it wasn't technical or difficult. I joined the Turkey's for a Tuesday night run on the second half of the trail to see how that laid out. Again, not difficult. I kept my runs during the week easy and with no plan.
The morning of the race I texted my friend Amanda who was doing a Jingle Jog or Turkey Trot or some other 5k race and challenged her to run it naked- as in no watch and said I would do the same. I also challenged her to run all of December naked. I knew I needed to stay away from the data my watch could give me for this race. I needed to go out and run this for fun and as free as possible. I formulated to run this race strong.
Since the race is a point to point race, I parked at the finish line and climbed aboard a bus to be transported to the start line. I got a spot in the cozy bus and chatted with a woman who does triathlons. We were dropped off at the start and most of us made straightaway to the bathroom line. The men were directed to go take care of nature in nature and leave the toilets for us ladies unless they had other business to take care of. I made it through with just enough time to do some dynamic warm-ups before the start. I found a friend to hang as we started out. We chatted together for about the first mile but then I realized I was able to pull ahead without much effort and left her.
The trail is mostly single track but not tight therefore passing isn't too much of a problem. You just have to be patient and courteous as you make your pass or get over as someone passes you. Because I wanted to make sure I passed cleanly and also wasn't getting ahead of myself, I sometimes stayed behind a runner and only one time felt like it was too long. He mentioned that he wondered when I would pass and I felt bad because he might have felt pressured or annoyed. Anyway, all the rest of the time I handled it well. I did have one runner I leapfrogged with about four times. The first time, he passed me from well behind the pack. I joked with him saying that since he passed us and we let him, we would all like a part of his winnings. Not too far later, he had pulled off to drink from his water bottle and I passed him. Then he passed me again. No word from me because at this point I'm wondering if he's never practiced running and drinking at the same time even though he has a hydration belt on. Then I notice him further down the trail making his way back to the trail for obviously having pulled off because nature called. (Now writing this out I'm wondering if he was dealing with more Mother Nature than his body could handle but I didn't think that during the race.) We are maybe three miles in so far. It's a lot of passing and him getting out of my sight and then seeing him stopped later on in such a short amount of time. I saw him one more time during the race and I almost hollered out at him "Don't make me pass you again!". I didn't but gosh, dude- pacing. Like I said most of the race was not weird, clean passing.
Alright, I don't have any pictures for you on here. However, there are pictures from the race that you can look through to find me on this site.
The first is the hill. It's a short, steep little climb taking you from the trail which sits at river level up onto the bridge that crosses the river and under the interstate. The only to get up it is to take a running start otherwise you're left to grabbing it with your hands. (Like in my nightmares where I'm running but can't use my legs so I resort to crawling as fast as I can.) I had pulled up really close to the next person and then realized that that wasn't a good idea because the main line was already congested. I picked a different line and went for it. Fast foot turnover and keep the momentum going and I pulled ahead of her at the top except for the slip where my feet weren't quite under me. (Follow the series of shots here)
In the second set of pics along the river I was again behind a runner. I had just passed someone else and came up on him. As I got closer I heard music and thought it funny that the music was loud enough that I could clearly hear it but why couldn't I hear it sooner since he hadn't been that far ahead of me for a while. Aha! Because it was a speaker the photographer had set up! It was then that I realized then photographer would never get a picture of me if I stayed behind this guy so I had to pull around and pass him. (#337)
The race was coming to a close and while I was definitely feeling the effects of running almost 8 miles at a much faster pace than I had run in a while, I pushed myself to keep it strong all the way to the end. I picked off a few more runners before spotting where the trail met up with the parking lot. There was one runner left in front of me that I thought I could catch. I came up fast behind him. The race director, Brad, was standing right near them and hollered to him that I got him. I took a few steps and raised my hands in victory only to realize he wasn't going to let me just have it. I dropped my arms and sprinted all out to the end. The timer declared me the winner! (#5387)
I didn't place in my age group or anything but it was a personal best for pace in a short distance. I'm really satisfied with my effort. Running without a heart rate monitor or a watch to show me distance, pace or time was such a good thing. I had to rely on running by feel and trust myself. It is a good thing for everyone to do. (Amanda did indeed run her 5k naked and guess what? PR'd by almost 2 minutes!!)
The Sycamore 8 is a great trail race, especially if you are new to trail running but this would also be a good one to put on the speed if you want to. The race director, Brad Dains, did an excellent job promoting it, communicating, and covering all the details. Even if you think you can't run trails, you can run this one.