Today was a very wet, cold, muddy and believe it or not, a fun third race in the three race cross country series called Mud in Your Eye. After the last two Mud in Your Eye races...run in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, I found myself in third place in my age group but I wasn't expecting to move up in the field with the two strong runners ahead of me and just hoped to hold off the fourth place runner with a solid run.
This 8K race was run on the Virginia Wesleyan campus in Norfolk and consisted of one small loop followed by two large loops going around the perimeter of the campus. The course is flat except for a very small mound in one of the fields. Past races also included a pile of hay bales to run up and over as well as some potential mud to run through...Hey...This series is called Mud in Your Eye!...I was looking forward to seeing some mud and with the rain we had the night before, the prospect of mud on the course was very good. The weather forecast had called for low temps in the 30-40's with some showers for today. I decided to wear the minimum in case it rained, so just a short sleeved shirt, running shorts, shoes and socks. I took my watch but decided not to wear it for this race, so there will be no splits.
I get up and look out the window to check the weather to find it overcast and although it had rained the day before, the roads were drying. Looked like a great day for a race. Took my shower and ate my breakfast and headed out to the race site. Just as I get to the entrance of the campus, a few small raindrops hit my windshield. As I parked about 500 meters from the bib and chip pickup, it started drizzling. I picked up my bib and chip and headed back to my truck and the rain started coming down hard. I stayed in the truck since there was no other cover except for some scattered trees. At one point the rain stopped completely for a few minutes but started again. I had planned to run a mile warm up but decided to stay in the truck until the last few minutes and run to the start line. I also had to make a pit stop but the three port-a-lets had a long line. Finally about 10 minutes before the start of the race, I left the warm and dry confines of my truck and started jogging out to the start line in pouring rain. I stood in the port-a-potty line thinking I may need to find a tree or bush instead but just as I was about to leave someone said there was only one minute until the start and almost everyone in line left leaving me and a couple of others that had to go too. Earlier as we're standing in the potty line there is a flash of lightening and a good roll of thunder, causing a lot of us wondering if this race was going to go on but that turned out to be the only one. Finally finished and ran to the start line splashing in the puddles along the way. This was going to be one wet and muddy race!
I get to the starting line and they warn us the course is very wet and slippery and to watch our step out there. The horn sounds at 8:00 and we are off...charging down the field, splashing in the soggy grass trying to avoid the deep puddles that have already formed and it's still raining. I try to hold back a bit and stay with the runner that is second in my age group for the first small loop. I remark that I hadn't seen the first place runner in our age group and find out he wasn't able to make this race because of a business trip. We near the area near the start line again we come to the neat stack of hay bales and I take it safely by running up and down instead of trying to hurdle it. We start going around the first large loop and pass the one mile marker. We're still running on soggy grass with puddles and hit a small stretch of asphalt where I can speed up without fear of slipping but soon we are back on the grass and trail. Soon we hit another small stretch of asphalt where I can speed up again. Coming off the asphalt we hit a very muddy trail...no grass, tree roots or anything else for traction...and I cautiously make my way slipping through the mud, trying to avoid the deeper pockets and trying not to slip and fall. We hit a nice grass trail again...it's still very soggy but not as slippery as the muddy area...and we pass mile 2 and cross a road to the small mound in the field that we run up and over. Then around the front perimeter heading back to the start/finish line and the hay bales again starting our second loop. The second time though the loop, the course is even muddier since it has been beaten up by all the runners from the first go around and I try to run along the edges of the trail to keep on firmer ground and grass...and pass mile marker 3. The first long loop I had passed a lot of runners and had been passed by a couple but the second loop everyone was pretty much spread out and the only ones passed were those still on the tail end of the first loop. Even with the deteriorating course, I manage a good pace through the grass and muddy parts and speeding up when we hit the asphalt sections. We hit mile 4 and then we go over the mound again and head along the outside perimeter heading to the finish line. Just before the finish is a huge puddle right in the middle of our path and I just run though it...what's a little more water on a wet day...and cross the finish mat with the clock showing 34:01.
I wait around near the finish for a while waiting for one of the ladies from my gym but don't see her. I'm starting to shake from the wet and cold and start walking back to my truck to get dried off and get some dry clothes on. That was one wet, cold and muddy run, but it was great fun. Fortunately they held the awards ceremony in one of the dry, warm buildings where they also had pizza, bagel, Danishes, coffee and hot chocolate...they ran out of coffee and hot chocolate when I got there. I placed second in my age group for the three series with a total time of 1:19:19:30 and got a great hand made iron trophy of a runner.
There were 10 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 247 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 28 of 247
Age group finish place was 2 of 10
Time: 34:01.25 for an overall pace of 6:51 per mile
Next race is tomorrow...The Anheuser-Busch Colonial Half Marathon...but start time is 1:00 pm and the weather should be dry and a bit warmer.
Happy weekend to all!