Sunday, October 9, 2011

Race Report: Frogtown Trail Challenge

Since going to Mount Everest in April, I've had some nagging knee problems which kept me from training for the StumpJump 50k, which I ran and loved last year.

But the weather in Georgia has been beautiful, and I didn't want the fall to go by without doing some kind of outdoors adventure. The Frogtown Trail Challenge presented the perfect solution. At ten miles, it was a perfect distance to be challenging without doing too much damage. Plus, the obstacles would add some excitement to the event.

I talked Brian Weldon, Jeremy Anderson, and Ruthie into running the race with me, and we all registered. Brian and I work at a nonprofit called She Is Safe, and they provided "Run to Rescue" t-shirts for us. R2R is an initiative we're developing where sponsored runners can free and empower women and girls against trafficking.

While Ruthie ran the four-mile course, Brian, Jeremy, and I decided to run the ten as a team. Besides being more fun that way, this allowed us to take pictures of each other throughout the race.

The first obstacle was a short drop via a rope onto a lower trail. Since the field of runners was still pretty much together, it was fairly crowded, but it got us excited for challenges to come.

While the overall elevation change wasn't that severe, whoever organized the race did a good job of designing some wicked climbs into the course. We regularly had to walk to the top of a climb, then resume running when the trail leveled out. Several times, we power-walked past runners who decided to gut it out.
While all of the race was enjoyable, we had the most fun during a mile-long portion of the race that took place in a creek. The water was cold, our shoes filled with sand, and there were fallen logs all over the place. I felt like a kid again, splashing full-speed through knee-deep water.
The final miles of the race were marked by hilly loops. Around mile 8, my legs started to feel heavy, and it was a challenge to keep up with my team. At this point, Jeremy took the lead of our little group, and Brian and I pushed the pace to keep up with him.
The final obstacle was a rope net with a drill-sargent-like volunteer yelling at you. Jeremy climbed to the top, took a snapshot of Brian and me struggling our way up, then scrambled down the other side.
We finished the race together, in a pack of three, all sprinting together for the line. I had to fight to keep from throwing up because of the final push, but I felt elated at the same time. We had run a good race together, pushed ourselves, and finished well.

Ruthie had finished her four-mile course long before us, and was waiting at the line to cheer us in.
I usually finish races one of two ways: barely able to stagger across the line and hoping to die, or wishing I had given more and done better.

With a two-hour finish time after starting in the last wave, I felt perfect at the end of this race. I had pushed hard, managed my energy well, and enjoyed a day in the woods with two of my favorite people.