04 December 2011

Backyard Burn 5.5 Miler - race report

I had been hemming and hawing the past few weeks over whether or not I would sign up for a race this weekend and if so, which one. The Hot Chocolate 5K/15K seemed like the natural choice (ahem - CHOCOLATE), but I just couldn't justify the high entry fee (and after reading the live feed on FB yesterday morning about THAT race debacle, I'm glad I didn't sign up). When my friend Karen told me she wasn't going to be able to race the Backyard Burn 5 Miler in Clifton, Virginia this Sunday and that she could transfer the bib to me, I took her up on it. It's an awesome series, well run races, and really casual. I've only raced the Wakefield course before (which is one of the easier ones) so I was interested to see what the more technical Hemlock course would be like. It was hard. Like, sucking-wind, almost-falling-into-rivers-twice kind of hard. It was hilly and rocky and definitely required some scrambling. The first 0.7 was mostly on pavement on gravel and then the course hurtled you down some steps built into a hill, then it was an immediate uphill. We looped around into the woods and started the hard stuff. I had forgotten my HR monitor and Garmin (yaaayyy low-key running) so I had no idea of pace, mile markers, elapsed time, etc etc etc. As we entered the woods, I counted myself as the 5th girl (but I had no idea how many of the girls ahead of me were 5 milers and how many were 10 milers - I assumed all were 5 miles because they were BOOKING it). I passed one girl after a few minutes of entering the woods and was promptly passed by a different girl who had relaxed form as she sped away from me. I managed to keep her in sight for the next couple of miles, but I didn't kill myself trying to catch her and focused on keeping the 5th position. Trail running requires more thought than road running (i.e., how do I get over those rocks without simultaneously falling into a ravine) and I found it took me AWHILE to get into a rhythm. Probably at least 2 miles. We ran by the finish start/finish area as we started a different loop back into the woods. It was here that I started to find my form. After a short uphill on pavement, the trail flattened out and then went downhill, allowing me to catch my breath. At one switchback before this section, I saw that there was a girl not too far behind me, and I ran the rest of the race convinced she was on my heels ready to pass me and I didn't look back (if I didn't run with these thoughts, I surely would've stopped/walked up some of the uphills towards the end). We had a nice section by the river where I picked up my pace (until we hit some rocks) and then... another uphill... that just... kept... going. It eventually flattened out and I knew I was probably a little more than a mile from the finish and tried to pick it up. I didn't see anyone ahead of me and here and there I would hear someone behind me. I just wanted to keep my 5th place (still convinced all the girls ahead of me were 5 milers). I *finally* saw the finish and the clock read 44:12 when I crossed the line. Not as fast as I wanted, but Mark told me I crossed the line in 2nd overall (which means 3 of those super fast girls were 10 milers who were doing ANOTHER loop). He also told me they were only about 30 seconds ahead of me (and the winning 5 miler girl finished only about a minute ahead of me) and I had closed alot of the gap during the back-half of the race. So that made me feel better about my time (and when I looked at last year's results, I would've also gotten 2nd overall with my time as well - so I'm not as slow as I thought, it was just a harder course than other trail races I've done).

We stayed around the the awards (I needed to build up my pint glass collection) and I got to stand on top of the podium as I won the 30-39 AG (NEVER have gotten to stand on top of a podium - it was weird and Mark said I looked really uncomfortable up there, haha). It's too bad this was the last trail run in the series this season, but I am toying with the idea of signing up for a few of the races in the spring series. I love the laid back environment and EX2 Adventures runs a first-class event every time. Plus, trail running is supposed to help build strength and make one a stronger runner overall and who can't use a little of that?? It was good to see some of the other Team Z'rs out there and I'm excited for the 2012 season!


Kathy said...

BYB are my favorite races ever! And now you've done the hardest one. Congrats on the 2nd OA and AG win.

Jennifer Harrison said...

CONGRATS awesome Caroline!!!! ;))

Katie said...

I've heard the BYB races are awesome and I'm glad you had such a good day. Congrats on the win!

Caroline said...

Thanks Kathy - Hemlock was DEFINITELY harder than Wakefield.
Jen - I'm glad I ended 2011 on a high note (though, there really weren't many low notes at all this season :) )
Katie - you should totally do one of the spring BYB races - SO much fun!