Monday, August 13, 2012

Kicks in the Sticks Race Report

I had a great weekend.  The weather finally gave us a break from the triple digits.  We spent time with friends watching a movie outdoors.  I celebrated my 39th birthday and 17th wedding anniversary (Sat and Sun respectively).  And I got to do my first ever trail run (oh, and it was at a race).  And I fueled the afternoon of the race with my husband's fantastic smoked ribs (and plenty of birthday Oreos - they turned 100 this year!).

The Jefferson City Rotoract (group of young professionals) hosted the inaugeral "Kicks in the Sticks" as a fundraiser for the Halo Network and the Buddy Pack program.  The Halo Network does outreach to at risk youth locally and also raises money to fund an orphanage in Uganda.  The Buddy Pack program through our area food pantry helps kids during school breaks and weekends that may not be getting much to eat.  Always nice when your race fee goes to a good cause.  The race managed to get a good lineup of sponsors and was pretty well put together all around.  As a new event in a relatively small city, it was a small race.  There were distance options (1.2, 3.5, 7.5) and I figured I'd get the most bang for my buck by signing up for the long one.  It also meant that there were only about 35-40 people doing that length! 

I conned my friend Susan into doing it with me (though truthfully she had wanted to do the 3.5 mile route).  I told her this was my birthday present so we should go all out and do the 7.5 miles.  We could always walk.  This wasn't about speed - it was about having a great time in a beautiful place.  Binder Park was a fantastic setting.  The only other trail I've ever run is the Katy Trail which is wide and graveled and flat (an old railroad bed) so not really a "trail run".  Binder's woods stretch most of the way around Binder Lake and are full of mountain bike/running dirt trails with a ton of shade.  We did the blue and green trails as part of this race (Trail Map Link).

Before the race, I had picked up Susan and we went to the park.  It is on the opposite side of town, but that means it took about 15 minutes to get there - Jeff City is small.  I grew up on Binder Lake as it was one of my dad's favorite fishing holes.  He had the place competely mapped (including depth information) and could tell you where to catch any type of fish, on any type of bait, at any time of the year.  I thought about him a lot and the time we spent out there on this run. 

Once we got parked, we got our race numbers, shirts and swag (Parks and Rec had some cool water bottles and backpacks).  Then headed back to the car to drop it all off.  I texted SuperKate and she was sitting on the back deck of the bait shop so we hung out with her for a few minutes while we waited for everything to start (borrowing her bug spray which we had forgotten - thanks!).  Also met the other Team Virtus rep - Bob Jenkins - who I felt like I knew from all his blog posts on the Team Virtus site.  We took a couple pre-race photos and listened to the band that was playing.  I was pumped to get started. 
With Susan - a Super Friend!

With SuperKate
The 7.5 milers lined up behind the strip of duct tape in the park road that served as the starting line and within a couple of minutes, it was time to go.  Since I knew the road would be the easiest we would have it all evening, I decided to keep up with the back of the pack until we hit the woods.  That was like 0.1 of a mile.  Once in the woods, I tried to stay out of folks' way as they passed me (which I was towards the back so that wasn't a lot).  Susan had a rough first mile.  I think we went out too fast for her taste and she was having a bit of a moment of being overwhelmed by the distance in front of us.  I cheered her along and said I didn't care how long it took us and that I knew we could do this.  After the first mile (give or take), she shook off the mental issue and settled in enjoying the beautiful scenery and stayed more in the moment.  We actually ran a bit more than I thought we would, though the pace was comparatively slow with having to constantly watch your feet and pay attention to where they were landing (rocks, roots, etc).

There were good water stations along the way - seemingly just where I was needing them most.  We were very happy that towards the end they left the water out for us slowpokes.  The weather was warm, but not insanely hot.  We lost the breeze in the trees, but the shade and setting sun helped.  The course has a lot of terrain changes, but was a lot of fun.  As we hit the portion of the trail where I could see we were turning back and the mile markers indicated we were over half way, we both were feeling pretty good about how it was going.  We got some more water and I could tell exactly where we were because I could see the lake and knew that part of the lake relative to the course.  We continued cruising along and I fell once (not hard) after a minor ankle roll.  Had some other close calls, but always managed to catch myself after feeling my toe trip over a rock or root. 

We hit the 7 mile marker and I was thrilled to know we'd be done soon.  My feet were starting to hurt (maybe I should've worn my newer shoes?) and the tendon on the outside of my right knee was nagging me a bit.  My shoulders felt a bit tight from all the looking down at my feet and I was just feeling like it was time to be done.  Unfortunately, the course markings left something to be desired.  because about 0.25 mile later we popped out of the woods into an open section of the trail and I could see the lake and I knew where we were and we were a long damn way from the finish line.  UGH! 

I mentally lost it there.  I started walking a lot as Susan tried to cheer me along so sure that the finish line was coming right up (she didn't know the lake like I did).  She really had to drag me in.  I kept thinking, "Well maybe the trail is straighter through this section so it really isn't as far as I think".  But then we popped out of another section and I could see we were still a ways out.  She kept talking me through trying to run more and walk less, but I was feeling pretty defeated.  The sun was setting and she wanted to be done before dark.  That is a lot sooner this time of year than in June!
Stole this pic from Kate's FB - thankfully she isn't close enough to see me NOT enjoying this last long uphill.
Finally, we came out of the woods for the last time and the orange painted arrows on the grass pointed up the hill (what a cruel way to end a race) to the cool finish line.  We ran it up as Kate and friends cheered us in.  God bless them!  I think our final time was right around 2:02 - for over 16 min/mile average pace.  But it wasn't about the time, right? 

Neat finish line!
We got a finish line photo and headed to get some drinks.  They had free beer, but I passed (not a beer drinker) and took a Sprite that tasted so good.  Susan had one - I think because it was free and sounds cool to say you had a beer after a race.  Neither of us was really up for the food yet (though everyone said it was great).  We sat and listened to the bands play and visited with another mom from our school who did the 3.5 miles with her girls.  Shortly thereafter, they did the awards.  Even though we came in last, Susan "won" 2nd in the "Female over 40" age group receiving one of the handmade (by the Halo kids) "medals".  Gotta love a small race! 

We got a chips/salsa snack and visited with Kate and the gang a little more.  Susan's boys were calling to see if she'd be home to tuck them in so we didn't hang out too long. I grabbed another Coke and we took off.   Should have taken a pic of the dirt/dust "tan" line I had at my socks, but was too eager to get in the hot shower.  I cleaned up and enjoyed the peace and quiet.  My daughter was with grandma and the boys went to the tractor/truck pull in Westphalia so I had plenty of time to myself to read and relax before shutting off the light and nodding off.   All in all, a pretty good birthday!

I didn't feel too bad when I got up on Sunday.  Only noticed any soreness as I took the stairs at the school open house after mass.  Had a pretty chill day and enjoyed dinner and movie with my husband.  We talked a little about me trying to fit in one more tri this season and the need to get registered for it.  Next weekend we are doing a family float trip on the Gasconade River.  The following weekend there are a couple of options for races, but I'll probably do the Heart 5K like I did last year.  It is local and a charity that I have supported for a long time.  The next weekend is the Epic Mud Run with my husband and another couple we conned into going with us.  So that leave three weekends in September that each have race options.  Just always seems silly to travel a long ways for a sprint race.  And I just don't think I have it in me to do the Oly this year.  I'm a little bummed I didn't push harder to get to where I could do it.  But I need to shit or get off the pot and decide or I won't have a choice.  So watch for the decision in the next few days.


  1. happy birthday.
    I planned my wedding out timely also. Mothers day, anita's bday, and anniversary all within 3 days.... sweet for gifts..... ONE!!!

    1. My husband must need some coaching - he went with the "zero" gifts option. I did get separate greeting cards though. No worries - I bought new running shoes, a new swimsuit (sale!) and a Road ID (long overdue). Now to shop for one or two other items to fill in around the edges. :)

  2. Congrats on a great 1st trail run! Trail running is less about the time and more about enjoying being out there. Slow is usually the order of the day on the trail...must be why I like it so much!

  3. That last "half mile" was so heartbreaking. I was definitely cussing the sadist who put up the mile markers. :)

    You did great! It's SO not about time on a trail race. For me, it's so much more about the experience. And I love the distraction that trails give me. I don't think nearly as much about how far I have left when I'm paying attention to the trail. You'll find that the more you run trails, the more comfortable you'll be with the rocks and roots and all that.

    Good luck making your decision about a final tri for the season! Great seeing you again and meeting Susan!

  4. Congrats on a great birthday race! Pretty cool way to celebrate it for sure.

    Happy anniversary too! Sounds like you two are about where we are with gifts :-)

  5. Trail runs are fun! What a great way to celebrate :)