Silence in the Woods
I have been looking forward to my latest race for quite some time. Having never run a trail race before, I was told by many friends to purchase trail shoes as opposed to my normal running pair. Trail shoes are made to better absorb the rough terrain and provide extra support around your feet.
I walked into my favorite running store, Run For Your Life, and went to get my bib for the race. To my surprise, the employees behind the counter said that 11 bibs had been “pre-stamped.” I asked “What does that mean?” It meant there were giveaways like shoes, runnnig shirts, and other gear being raffled to a handful of runners post-race. I took this as a good omen, purchased a pair of trail shoes and headed to meet my good friend Adam for a pasta dinner at Maggiano’s: gnocchi with vodka sauce and sausage…delicious!
The night before the race, I layed out my gear (superstitious -yea I’ll own it). My alarm went off at 6:57 AM (yes another superstition) and I headed out to the race located at the White Water Center in Charlotte, NC. The temperature was in the high 70’s by the start of the race and I felt really comfortable and ready to run.
The race had about 400 runners and I learned real quickly that passing people on a trail run was not something that was going to happen very often due to the narrowness, slope and tight angles of the path. It was more single file leading into the woods which was an easy way to keep the pace.
Once inside the woods, I remembered what my good friend Christy said, “Make sure to watch your feet at all times!” Excellent advice. There were tons of roots sticking out, big dips & sloped inclines as well as miscellaneous natural debris scattered throughout the trail.
This race was so different than all the others because for the most part, it was utter silence. The only supporters along the way were a handful of Run For Your Life Employees at 2 water stations and directing the flow of the route. It was so calm and peaceful to be jogging in the woods. Normally, I feed off the crowd cheering me on, but this serene quietness was a completely different type of atmosphere, which I was starting to love mile by mile.
The challenging part was balancing the quick dips versus the steeper inclines. While running downhill, I had to carefully slow down my body and use a lot more energy due to the sharp declines. Contrastingly, on the steep uphills, I would quickly run up the path. I knew that if I went at my normal pace, I would expend too much energy and be too fatigued moving forward. This tactic proved wise as I could recover at the top when the path leveled out.
Overall, the race was a winding and weaving trail with obstacles all along the way: avoiding numerous roots, running alongside the water and doing my best not to turn an ankle with the awkward slopes. This was a fantastic experience and without a doubt, will not be my last trail race.
I am already looking forward to the next one…