Happy Halloween!

Today I had a just-for-fun half marathon trail race.  I had no expectations going into this race, which I figured was a good thing.  I haven’t run much since the Adirondack Marathon – a couple 5 milers or so, and a 13.1 two weeks ago.  I basically took the month of October to rest.  So I didn’t expect my conditioning to be amazing.

On top of that, this was a trail race!  I haven’t really run trails since high school cross country.  I did 2 or 3 short trail runs this month, just to get reacquainted with the whole thing.  It wasn’t bad, but definitely tiring.  I had heard that the trails for Hairy Gorilla were really tough, so I was mentally ready, at least.

My main goal for today was to run the race, have a lot of fun, and keep encouraging my friend and running partner, Chelsea.  This was her first (official) half marathon.  We did a 13.1 two weeks ago, so she already knew she could go the distance.  But the fact that it was RACE DAY was making her nervous.

We spent a couple nights this week working on our costumes, and they turned out awesome…

Can you say “puffy paint and glitter???”

Awesomeness.

And very comfortable to run in too!  I am so saving that shirt for future races.  🙂

The whole setup for this race was great.  The volunteers are all in costumes and they get really into it…

A gorilla roaming the parking lot as we pulled in.

The squirrel – the six mile race is the “Squirrelly Six”

They’re everywhere!  They did this all along the course too.

Never had my picture taken with a gorilla before…

It was a beautiful (and a little chilly) day.  We were at Thatcher State Park – up on top of the Heldeberg Escarpment (geologist-speak for “cliff”).  So the view was excellent.  Unfortunately, my husband was having so much fun taking pictures of dogs (he loves dog pictures) and people in costume that this is the only picture we got of the view.  It really doesn’t do it justice.

We checked in and got our bibs and eventually found Carrie.  Much picture-taking ensued.

Carrie was without costume since she only decided to run 2.5 hours before the race actually started.

I also ran into Jen – another local running blogger.  She had a great bee costume!  She also has some great on-course pictures (Check them out!).  I didn’t bring my camera with me since I knew it was going to be muddy.  I didn’t want to slip and fall into the mud and drop my camera in it.  That would be bad.

The race got started and already the craziness was happening.  One of the volunteers was running around with a chainsaw (chain removed, no worries) and a hockey mask.  He was all over the registration area before the race and then he got himself right in the thick of things in the start.  He came after Chelsea and she screamed at the top of her lungs.  It was hilarious.

The first half mile was pretty congested.  It was a little tough since the group hadn’t had a chance to thin out yet and we went right into narrow trails.  There were parts where we had to stop and wait for a second to get through.  There was also a woman behind us screaming “JUST MOVE!!!” at the top of her lungs.  Someone was taking it a little too seriously…

The boys (my husband and Chelsea’s fiance) managed to catch us not too far in.  So we were still all smiles.

Then we got in to the REAL trails…

The first four miles were TOUGH.  And I mean TOUGH.  It was pretty intense hills.  And it was muddy.  And rocky.  And did I mention muddy??? Chelsea definitely didn’t enjoy the hills.  Every time we rounded a corner, only to be faced by another uphill, interesting strings of words kept being yelled very loudly muttered quietly to herself.  I had to keep reminding her that we were just doing this for fun.  If (when) we needed to stop and walk, it didn’t matter.  We needed to walk the uphills.  There was just no way we were going to be able to run up them with all the mud and leaves.  So we took our time.

We made our way through the first part of the course fairly uneventfully – except all the crazy uphills.  It was also very pretty, but hard to stop and appreciate because you were focused on your footing. Unfortunately I didn’t do a very good job with my footing and I kept rolling my ankles.  Between all the mud, and rocks, and the generally uneven terrain, I was just not doing a very good job.  And once I roll my ankle once, I seem to keep doing it over and over.  So they were getting sore.

We made it past the point where the 6 mile race turned to head to the finish and we split off and kept going.  By mile 7, I started to get shooting pains in my ankles and I started to get concerned that I was going to end up getting injured.  Since breaking my ankle a year and a half(ish) ago, I tend to be fairly cautious when it comes to ankle injuries.  So far I’ve been lucky and haven’t had any problems with the one that I broke, and I’d like it to stay that way.

By 7.5 miles, my ankles were feeling pretty bad.  I was rolling them more and more, and decided to play it safe.  I gave Chelsea my Garmin and told her to kick ass.  And that I would see her at the finish, screaming my head off.  I worked my way back to the finish (another 1.5 miles) – running wherever it wasn’t muddy, rocky, or steep.  On the flat and dry sections I was okay.  But there weren’t too many of those!

After I got back to the finish, I found my husband and Chelsea’s fiance.  Not too long after that, Chelsea appeared!

Our first glimpse of Chelsea as she was coming out of the woods.

I wish my camera batteries hadn’t died right then.  The chainsaw guy was waiting and hiding right next to us and kept popping out as people rounded the corner.  Since Chelsea was running with a couple other people, I told him to aim for her, since she would be sure to be hilarious.  And she was.  Darn.  Stupid camera batteries.  I promise it was good.

I ran down the field with Chelsea, screaming my head off as we went.  She popped back in the woods to loop around quickly and we got ourselves situated at the finish line.  I was so excited for her!

GO CHELSEA!!!

She kicked so much butt.  Her first official half marathon, AND it was a trail race.  And she OWNED it.

She did it!

A big hug from her fiance.

And then it sinks in… “I DID IT!”  And “I AM SO TIRED!”

An official half marathoner!

Showing off the medal.

So even though I didn’t run the whole thing today, I had a great time.  It was a really fun (and tough!) race.  And I am super proud of Chelsea for kicking butt and powering through her first (and a really tough) half marathon.

And now she’s ready to run the Buffalo Marathon with me.  🙂

Bring on the training!

Congrats Chelsea!!!

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