Rockport Trail Runs 2012

Posted Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wendi and I went to Rockport Park for the Rockport Trail Runs which were scheduled for 10:00. This was only my second race since I took up running this past summer (my first was a 5k on Labor Day) and my first trail race EVER. We arrived early, shortly after 9:00; it was chilly (low 30s) with a north breeze coming up. I got my packet which contained my race bib (#420), a raffle ticket, some literature about the park, a magazine called Silent Sports, and a commemorative T-shirt. Wendi pinned the bib on me; then we chatted with some people before the race. Wendi befriended a lady who was there to watch her daughter race, and they talked while the races were on.

My friend, Jessica Garcia, was there; she ran the more difficult 10k race, while I ran the less difficult (but still challenging) 4 mile race.

Due to the chilly weather, I wore a tank top covered with a light sweater, and sweat pants. I wore my winter coat until just before the race. I commented to someone that I didn’t own any proper running clothes. The person replied, “Running clothes are whatever you wear when you are running!” Good point.

The races started together at 9:58 a.m. At first we headed downhill in a group, on the wide ski trail. Dappled morning sunlight glistened off the frost on the grass; the chilly north breeze made our eyes water. Soon the 10k course turned left while the 4 mile course went straight ahead. Once deeper into the woods, we couldn’t feel the breeze as much, and we warmed up.

The courses were well marked, and there were people at the various intersections and turns to direct us where to go. There was even a water station at the 2-mile mark; I took advantage of this.

Even on the 4 mile course, there were some notable hills; I had to stop running and settle into a walk on five different occasions, the first at about 0.8 mile into the race. During the second mile, runners started passing me; first there was a woman who, when I said hello, responded with “It’s a nice day for a run.” She got way ahead of me on the next hill. ~ Later, two men passed me on a hill but apparently used up their energy, for I eased past them effortlessly on the straight, only to be passed again on the next long hill, this time for good. This was during the third mile; the hills were really getting to me, and I began to wonder if I would be able to run the rest of the race.

Finally I got into the last mile, and things began to look up for me. By now the runners were quite spread out, and no one else passed me. A man and his son (probably not in the race) appeared on the trail, then cut across through the woods to meet the mom who was running the 10k. ~ At another turn, the people directing the turn said “Good job—you’re almost there!” and later, “Just over half a mile to go—you’re doing great.” This encouraged me right when I needed it. ~ Finally I came out onto the paved trail. “Two hundred yards; you’ll make it,” called another race director. By now I could hear Wendi cheering for me; the other lady had moved her down to a spot near the paved trail so she could watch the finish. Wendi even got a couple of pictures of me on her iPhone.

Finally I reached the finish line, with a chorus of race directors cheering me on. The clock said 42:02, which amounted to a 10:30 average pace—not bad considering the fairly challenging course and the fact that I had never broken 11:00 per mile on these trails before. Had I been able to conquer the hills better, my time would have been faster, but I was quite happy with this result.

After the race, there was an assortment of food and drink available, and Wendi and I had some; even Wendi’s energy was depleted from the chilly air and all the excitement. There was spiced cider and coffee, chicken noodle soup with oyster crackers, various nut breads, cookies, pumpkin bars and fresh bananas. ~ I chatted with some of the other finishers as we waited for the drawings and awards. ~ Partial results from the 4 mile race were posted as of 10:44 a.m.; by then, 25 people had finished. My time was 22nd at 42:01.84, and the posting said I had placed 3rd among 50-year-old males, which qualified me for an award. When I told Wendi this, she was ecstatic.

There were a few larger gifts in the drawing: a Bunn coffeemaker, a Hamilton Beach toaster oven, and a large blanket with a Budweiser logo on it. The rest of the gifts were running gloves, running socks, and small pumpkins. Most of the people ended up with something; I got a pumpkin (that was all that was left by then).

The computer system had gone down after the partial results posting; fortunately they had written down results manually as the runners came in. Though we were allowed to check our times on the sheet, they couldn’t give out official times or awards today. The race director promised to email us the results and send the awards by postal mail. The gathering broke up at about noon. It had been a great time.

UPDATE: Results came in via email on Sunday. I placed 22nd of 33 runners overall in the 4 mile, and 3rd of 4 among males age 50–59, with a time of 42:01.84 (10:30/mile average). Not spectacular, but not bad for a beginner. ~ Jessica Garcia placed 13th of 40 runners overall in the 10k and was the fastest female overall with a time of 56:18 (9:05/mile average).