Saturday, October 30, 2010

Race Report: A Nu Race Trail Run

My first 1st Place finish!! Yea ok there were only 11 women running my distance but still I was SOOOOO excited! Time was 1:28:33, wouldn't have been a good time on the road, but given the hills I'm happy with it. Full results here.

I did the Nu Race Trail Run at Mohican State Forest in Perrysville. The had 3.5, 8, 13.1 and 31 mile distances. It was an inaugural run, about 25 people in each distance, to benefit Camp Nuhop, a camp for children with developmental disabilities.

I hope this event grows. It was well organized, a beautiful and challenging course, and for a good cause. It was far more challenging than the Hocking Hills Indian Run last month. They had all kinds of goodies at the aid stations -- I decided not to find out what would have happened to my stomach had I eaten the peanut M&Ms on the course but having them out was a nice gesture. And they gave out long-sleeved tech shirts, which is amazing.

My only complaint was the same one I had for the Indian Run, there were no mileage markers so I had no idea where I stood the entire time. Also the last two miles or so doubled back on the same narrow trail, that wasn't bad because it was a small field but if it gets more crowded that might get messy.

All distances but the longest started at 9 a.m. I was up at 6, ate a bagel and a banana, drove for an hour and got there around 8. Tried Gatorade Prime again --I don't know if it's worth it, I really didn't notice any difference from regular Gatorade.

The different distances were assigned colors. The 8-milers were the "Blues" (sound hauntingly familiar, NNCO friends?) As he was explaining the course, the guy with the bullhorn says:

"Oh, there's a special surprise, just for you blues."

"Just don't shoot the messenger."

Here's a topo map of the course. The first and last quarter miles were on the road, the rest was trail. The first two miles were relatively uneventful. All the distances were together at that point, on Little Lyons Falls trail, and the path was a foot-and-a-half wide at best which made passing people very difficult. I found myself wanting to pass on the uphills and getting passed/tailed on the downhills (Note to self: Practice running downhill.)

I was behind one woman in a red shirt for most of the first couple miles. Then she stopped on a hill and I didn't see her after, she was probably doing another distance.

And I was all alone. Nobody in site ahead of me. Nobody behind me. I crossed my fingers that the course was well marked, turned down my iPod so I could hear any approaching footsteps, and continued on my merry way.

After 20 minutes the three milers broke off. The next half mile or so was relatively flat, from the map it looks like this was Stage Coach Trail. At around 30 minutes a woman in a white and grey jacket caught up to me and we tagged back and forth for awhile.

The course started to get ugly around the halfway point. The hills got steep and rooty. They were covered with leaves so I really had to watch my footing. I tripped once, have a nasty bruise to show for it but no injury.

The 13.1 milers broke off around mile 4 1/2 - 5ish (hard to tell without markers) and the 8-milers were all by their lonesome. We went around a bend and the path was smooth and flat, and then I saw what the guy with the bullhorn was talking about.

We were out of the woods and in the clearing at Pleasant Hill Dam. Then there was a big grassy hill, no, scratch that, a big grassy cliff, with blue arrows pointing straight up. I was by myself at this point, I had lost white and grey jacket when she stopped for a drink, and every curse word in my vocabulary came to mind. I stayed at something resembling a jog for about 2-3 of the way up, maybe about 100 yards. Then it turned into large, uneven concrete steps. That I had to stop and walk. I couldn't find a pic of this monstrosity on a quick Google search but I'll keep looking.

After the cliff the course turned a corner...

And kept going uphill. This one was a slightly lower grade and about a quarter mile, I was about ready to stop again when I saw what looked like the end coming.

Another turn, and more uphill! And more! And more! Evil! Evil! Evil! My legs are screaming at this point, every joint is aching. I'd love to say I ran the whole thing, but I ended up walking for short amounts of time twice. This torture lasted for probably a good mile or two, again it's hard to tell without markers, and finally we crossed a road back onto the path that lead back. I grabbed a handful of pretzels at the aid station and learned that it is in fact possible to eat while running.

At this point I know I wasn't going to make my goal of 1 hour 20 minutes. I know I started out too fast and when I passed that aid station the first time I was at 20 minutes. Now my watch said 1:05.

I really wish I had a Garmin, because then I'd be saying with some authority that I was thrilled to see a 6-grade hill, or something like that. No part of these last two miles (same path as the first two miles) was flat, but compared to that evil thing by the dam these hills were easy.

I had been by myself since I lost white and grey jacket at the dam, and the last two miles were incredibly peaceful. The terrain was easier by comparison, I could see the ground I was running on, for every uphill there was a downhill. The course spit out onto the road for the last quarter mile, and then, suddenly, I was done.

I wanted to jump up and down and squeal when they handed me the first place plaque but I just ended up coughing all the cold air out of my lungs. I think the first decipherable words out of my mouth were "what the hell was that hill". The guys that finished ahead of me confessed to walking it too.

My official time was 1:28:33. A defacto personal best, since I've never done the distance before.

Mom met us at the lodge after and we went to the West Main Cafe in Loudonville, where I was about ready to knaw the legs off the table. It is yet to be scientifically proven, but accurate by today's believe-anything-you-want culture, that no food has calories in the immediate aftermath of running 6 miles or more. So I ordered a Reuben, which I haven't had in ages, and it was delicious. (Those 3 pounds I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to lose? I'll worry about them tomorrow. Her famous last words.)

The next race is the Cleveland Turkey Trot, which I'm going to do with my little sis. After that it's the 10-mile trail challenge at Salt Fork.

Good day. I'm beat. It's naptime.

I keep meaning to get Matt to take a recent picture. I found this one on my camera from Sept. 4, from the Pet-A-Palooza.


  1. Okay my hills in my 5k have nothing on this. It sounds like it was brutal, but you survived and lived to tell it.

    Congrats on your first place!

    And I know what you mean about practicing running downhill. I think I hold back on hills.

  2. Jess,

    Awesome job on your first place finish! I'm not a big fan of doing hills on a treadmill, or for that matter, any training on it. But safety is of primary concern, especially when it gets darker earlier. I have an idea though. You should do a block of hill workouts, say 8 weeks of it. You need to decide where, when and how much to do. I suggest you do them on the weekends during the day. I recommend doing 2-8 hill repeats each week for 2 months, gradually increasing the number to a total of 8. An alternative to this is to find a mile or so loop course with two hills and add that to a longer run.

    Just a few ideas.


  3. @Kerry, thanks! Practicing hills once a week has made them a lot easier, but there were just a few too many in this race.

    @Ken Thanks! I think it is just a matter of adding hills to my daily routine.