Mud and Chocolate Half Marathon

Race Complete! Let me just state again so I don't ever forget, I LOVE trail running. This race was not easy for me and I really felt like I was pushing hard during some parts of it when I should have just chilled the eff out, but I cannot get over how amazing it feels to be running in the woods. I am so grateful to live in such a magically beautiful region where I can drive 40 minutes ( or 10 minutes) and be in a gorgeous woods setting bounding (slogging) along trails, dodging massive piles of horse poop and mud puddles all the while my internal monologue is screaming "I am a woodlands princess and I am made to be outside!!" It gets a little weird in my head on runs, but whatever it feels amazing. 

Prepping the night before, getting directions. 

Prepping the night before, getting directions. 

I woke up, ate bread/PB/banana, guzzled coffee, and let the miracle of digestion happen. I headed out to the East Side with zero traffic and arrived an hour before start time. I wasn't sure what I was going to wear, so I packed an extra shirt option in case the weather got weird by the time I arrived. I'm glad I did because I ended up changing in the car, adding a layer just for the first mile to get through the cold was worth it. I also hung out there for a while since I was running solo and it was so so so cold I couldn't imagine waiting around for the start. I finally pried myself out of the warm car around 9 and stood around with all the other racers until the pep talk at 9:20. One of the reasons I like trail races is because they are way smaller than other road races and you get to see most everyone you'll be running with at some point. At the start the RD points out the flags, gives any last minute warnings, and this time gave out 3 pretty bitchin prizes before we even hit the trail. Then all of a sudden we were off! 

Stolen from Tuscany HOA. (Not from today.)

Stolen from Tuscany HOA. (Not from today.)

The start was pretty cramped and very slick, but after about 3 miles everybody cleared out a bit. I followed two nice ladies from about halfway through the first lap to the second and then a different set of two ladies for the last half. I brought a Chocolate #9 of my own that I had at 4.5 miles and then one they handed out at 9 miles. I've had them before and man are they delicious. It's just like chocolate sauce and I love that they only have about 2 ingredients. I also grabbed a tiny cup of water with both stops. 

From about mile 3 to mile 12 there were serious mental games happening. I was trying to stick with people so I didn't get lost, but I was also trying to not race too hard since the whole point of this race was to run without getting injured or aggravating those already existing injuries. Each lap (3x4.5) seemed pretty long and it wasn't until the last one that I remembered where the inclines were to watch out for. Pro tip: study the map. I am not a pro, I did not study the map. I was basically lost the entire race and heavily relying on other runners and the handy pink flags. It worked out okay in this race but I have a feeling this is something I'm going to need to work on in the future. Thank you to the ladies who let me be a creep runner so I didn't die alone and cold in the woods.

Sweet Swag. 

Sweet Swag. 

On the website for the race they advised the the course really is 13.1 even if your Garmin says otherwise and mine definitely said otherwise. I came in at 12.56 miles in 2:13:42. By far my worst half marathon time, but hey it was amazing and I honestly do not give a shit about this time. I had so much fun. The course was tough and I managed to have some gas in the tank for a hustle at the end. I am very grateful to the girls (both sets) that let me hover behind them and eavesdrop on their conversations, using them for motivation and navigation for the race. I feel a little bad that I left the race before all the finishers came through but I really wanted to beat traffic and had a date with the in-laws to get to. They are some of my biggest cheerleaders and I love getting to hangout with them after races drinking warm beverages and recounting the race. This time we got a buttload of chocolate for finishing so I got to share that since I'm trying to keep the sugar on the lowdown until pie time on Thanksgiving. 

Post Race Blissed Out Freak Show with Lucky Yellow Hat

Post Race Blissed Out Freak Show with Lucky Yellow Hat

Overall I loved this race. Good vibes, great treats, a pretty medal, and a super gorgeous course. I've already signed up for my next trail run last week and I'm so glad I did. I'm really looking forward to a Fall/Winter filled with more foggy and wet woods runs.