A First-Time Trail Runner

first_imgI’venever felt such sweet relief as when I began to hear the music at the transitiontent and saw the high-powered lights ahead. But there was a hard truth waiting forme at the end of that first lap. I was only 4.3 miles in and had just struggledwith the easiest loop of the race. Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, Va. Lookingback post-race, I did not do enough to prepare. I should have spent more timerunning real trails to get used to the elevation. I should have done somerunning at night to get used to the limited sight. I should have, but I didn’t. The BRO Team took on the Richmond Ragnar Relay at Pocahontas State Park April 26-27. As we passed the race bib on to the last two runners, I knew my part was complete. Yousee, I am not a runner. I enjoy hiking, playing soccer, and generally gettingoutside. But I could never find the enjoyment in simply running that so many ofmy runner friends talk about. Our Ragnar team consisted of eight runners, each completing three laps for a total of 128 miles. My headlamp,which seemed bright enough back at the campsite, was almost useless on thetrail as I struggled to see more than a foot in front of me. Already a clumsyperson prone to stumbling over roots and rocks, the darkness did not help. I started training about four months before the race. As someone who thought running a mile was tough, I had no idea how I was going to make it to 16. I spent a lot of time researching different training methods online and putting off the actual running. Why didI sign up for this again? By thetime my third lap rolled around, the rain delay had put a number of teamsbehind schedule. Runners were doubling up to make sure we finished in time. The BRO team finished in 29 hours, 12minutes, and 32 seconds. For a team dealing with last minute injuries, illness,and deep-set fatigue, finishing 145 out of 265 teams was an achievement. Heck,finishing at all is something to be proud of and to celebrate. There was a point about a month before the race where I was struggling to run three miles. I was trying to figure out a way to get out of my commitment. At 4:30,I was back at the transition tent ready for my second lap. Armed with a teammate’sheadlamp (thank you Shannon!), I was ready to go. Everyoneat our campsite rushed to put up tarps and make sure our tents stayed dry. At thetime, our third runner was on the trail. Missy came back to the campsite drenchedand covered in mud.center_img By thetime I arrived at Pocahontas State Park on Friday afternoon, it started torain. Not a light drizzle that is refreshing when you’re outside on a humid day.It was the kind of rain where nothing escapes the downpour as the water rendersyour rain jacket useless. I triedto sleep a little in between loops, but between the throbbing in my calves andthe fact that everything was a little damp, it didn’t work very well. Aftera two-hour rain delay, the race was back on. Which brings us back to 8:30 thatnight. WhyI decided to sign up for the Ragnar Relay, I’m still not entirely sure. I amone of the newest members to the BRO office and thought it would be a fun thingto do together. I am always looking for ways to push myself and try new things.But running? It couldn’t have been anything else? It’s8:30 at night and I’m in the middle of the woods, picking myself up afterfalling for the fifth time. I let out a frustrated cry into the night, words mymother would not be happy if I repeated here. All I can think is what am Idoing here? Eventhough this loop was longer, there were not as many rolling hills. It wasimpossible to avoid the mud, but I managed to stay on my feet this time. The airwas cool and as the sun started to peak through the trees, I almost found myselfenjoying the run. At the end of 16 miles, I certainly felt a sense of accomplishment for finishing something I didn’t think was possible. And I enjoyed doing it with an awesome group of people. But mostly, I just wanted to crawl into my bed and sleep for 20 hours. WillI ever do something like this again? Ask me in a few weeks when the memory of thepain has faded. Thiswasn’t just a trail race. It was a mud run. Sometimes it felt more like I wasice skating across puddles than running. Are you interested in running a race like this? See what it was like out on the trails with our digital content specialist, Shannon McGowan. I don’tknow if I would have finished that final lap if I wasn’t running with someone. Myknees ached from the downhill and I could feel the blisters forming on my toes. We could not have done this if everyone onthe team hadn’t stepped up to do their part. Special shout out to Hannah andAlec, who picked up a fourth loop to fill in for our injured teammate, andJordan, who ran despite becoming sick Friday afternoon.last_img

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