The first super exciting thing is that I was able to race this weekend. I haven't done any racing since January and I was so happy to have the opportunity to do what I love again. The race was the XDuro 21K and it is honestly one of my favorite race courses ever. This was my second year participating in this particular race and so I knew how tough the course was and still went back for more. XDuro is a trail race that is run on great trails throughout the city of Richmond. The trails include hopping across rock beds, climbing multiple sets of stairs, crossing bridges, jumping across the river a few times, running through canals and tunnels, tons of hills, a little bit of road running and then more tough trails. It is an awesome course and one that makes me smile.
I woke up on race morning with the biggest smile on my face and went through my regular pre race rituals. (Breakfast, coffee, stretching...all the normal stuff.) I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous to be racing again because it has been SO long. However, my excitement far outweighed any nervous feelings I had. I set out for the race and met up with Mel, Billy and James for a little pre race photo shoot and some more stretching.
The race started right at 7:30 and we were off. It was a pretty hot and muggy morning but I felt awesome and was running at a decent pace. As we wound our way through the trails, I had the top three women in sight and I was pacing myself to make a move later in the race. I felt pretty confident that I could easily finish in the top three. Unfortunately, my foot connected with a big rock and before I realized what was happening, I went flying and ended up falling down a small hill. The fall didn't hurt too much but it tore my bib number off, scraped me up a bit and caused me to roll into a huge patch of poison ivy...which I am highly allergic too! Ugh! I pulled myself back up the hill and took off running but at that point I had lost sight of the three women ahead of me. I was only about 7 miles into the race at this point, so I assumed that I had plenty of time to catch them again. I picked up my pace a bit, ate a gel and tried to be a little more careful about watching where I was going. I was still feeling great and knew that I had plenty of energy left to finish strong. I was excited about how the race was going until I realized that something was seriously wrong with the course. I have been running the XDuro course for weeks now with Mel and Billy and know it pretty well. For some unknown reason, we were directed to a short cut on the course and with no explanation at all, the course was cut short and we were at the finish line. A race that was meant to be a 21K was turned into a 16K for no obvious reason! I was so confused and sort of upset as I crossed the finish line. I still had so much energy left and my race strategy was completely thrown off. I hadn't been given a chance to pick up my pace or finish strong. The only answer that the race director would give us is that they were worried about the heat but I don't think that was the whole story. As I walked through the finisher's shoot, I still had a ton of energy left, so I took off running as fast as I could along the course until I found all of my friends. I let them know that the course was shortened and they picked up the pace in order to finish strong. It was such a confusing mess of a race but I still had a blast.
After the race, I hung out with Mel and played with my camera until the results were posted. I finished fourth place overall and second in my age group which made me very happy. This race also had a special prize for the fastest man and woman from Richmond and I was the winner of the woman's division which meant I was definitely sticking around for the awards ceremony. The one thing I don't like about awards ceremonies is all of the waiting around. It takes forever to get everything organized and announce all of the age groups. Luckily Mel and Billy stuck around to keep me company and we killed time by taking more random pictures.
Finally it was my time to shine and I was called up on stage to receive my prize ($50!!) and a sweet medal. The best part was standing on the podium and shining like a superstar...wait a minute...who am I kidding? The best part was the $50! As soon as the awards ceremony was over, I packed up all of my race stuff and walked back to my car with a spring in my step. Despite all of the confusion with the course and the pain of my fall and the emotions of returning to a race without H by my side, it was a fabulous morning and I felt fabulous in it!
The rest of my weekend was spent lounging by the pool, hanging out with family and friends, working (boo!) and just doing my thing.