It’s that time of year again. Days are getting longer, the sun is shining more often, the temperature is rising, and Northwest Trail Runs has kicked off their Tuesday Trail to Grill Series. The first event of the season was at Woodland Park in Seattle, where runners could choose between a 5K (1 loop) and a 10K (2 loops). The best part about this race series is obviously the barbeque at the finish (featuring regular hot dogs AND veggie dogs)!
Events by Northwest Trail Runs are always a great experience and this was no exception. The weather was perfect – plenty of sunshine but not too hot – and the course was tough but very well marked with multiple types of terrain. Runners began the race with a short, steep uphill and then continued onto a rolling gravel trail. Next was an open grassy section that made me reminisce back to college cross country meets, and after that there were patches of bark trails, narrow, technical trails, gravel paths, pavement, and even a section on the dirt track near Green Lake. It was refreshing, yet difficult to run on the varying terrain and the course was rarely (I would venture to say never) flat, which was an added challenge.
I knew from the start that I was going to struggle in this race. I had what I thought was allergies, which turned into a cold, which turned into a minor case of bronchitis, which I’ve been dealing with for the last two weeks. As a result I have not been running much and when I do run it is not very far and certainly not very fast. For a warm up I ran the first mile of the course, had a coughing fit, stretched, and did some agility drills and strides. My body felt the typical fatigue that it has for the last couple of weeks but I was hoping for one of those races where you forget that you aren’t feeling so hot and end up pleasantly surprised with how fit you are. That didn’t happen.
I came through the 2-mile mark at 13:13, which would have been okay on any other day, but I knew for a fact that I wasn’t going to be able to hold the pace. The third mile was pretty difficult with many uphill sections and I could tell that I was slowing down. My first 5K was about 21:30. Going into the second and final loop I knew that I would be going much slower, so I made it my goal to finish in under 45 minutes. With each successive mile I could feel myself slowing and I was coughing more frequently, but I had to finish. Once I hit the 6 mile mark I was able to pick it up a little and I came through the finish in 44:36 – the first overall female 10K participant and the second overall 10K participant (losing only to my husband).
A very important lesson was learned from this race and my experience with being under the weather. Recovery is important. Listen to your body. Perhaps if I would have been a little more careful when I first got sick I wouldn’t be taking this long to bounce back from it. Maybe if I would have rested instead of dragging myself through slow and miserable runs I wouldn’t still have lingering fatigue and a nagging cough. It’s okay to take days off when it is what your body needs.