Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bear Creek 10mi Trail Race Report

Last weekend was my first trail run of the season.  Not one to build up to anything, I signed up with friends for the Bear Creek 10mi race in Cumberland County.  Nothing like going from a max of 7 miles of road running to 10 miles of trails.  And not just any trail run, but the full on "over the river(s) and through the woods" single track hilly as all get out trail runs.  Luckily I had awesome company!  All my friends are race veterans, but this was my first year running it. 

Saturday afternoon Tyler and I loaded up our respective pups and swung around south side to pick up Jilly before heading out of town.   Deere and Sophie were quick friends and behaved well in the car on the way down.  Bear Creek State Park is an easy <1hr drive from Richmond, and has both camping and cabins to stay in.  Lynn and Mike had arrived earlier in the day and had mulled wine warming on the stove.  YUM!  The weather was overcast and chilly--the forecast was for a dusting of snow that evening with clear skies in the morning.  Fellow racers Karen, Shawn, and Sharon were staying in the cabin next door and invited us over to share hors d'oeuvres and their crackling fire as it started snowing. 

The progressive dinner continued back at our cabin, where Lynn made an awesome pasta dish accompanied by salad courtesy of Jill. Fully carbed, we played a few hands of what my family calls "Dinosaur," a card game taught to me by Shawn and Karen while at Torturefest in Placid last year. Horror of horrors, we ran out of wine and seriously contemplated schelpping into town for more. But it was after 8 or 9 at night and many of us were trundling off to bed soon. I can't say many of us slept well, poor Tyler had to put up with someone snoring half the night. Must've been Sophie....

The morning dawned early--I was the first up and tried to sneak out quietly with the dogs. We had over a half inch of snow! It was so gorgeous, and cold!  You can see the lake through the trees, just as the sun is rising over the tree tops.

Back inside as everyone else got up, we all went about getting bundled up and eating our pre-race breakfasts.  Here is our cabin ready to go:

Thank goodness for heated seats!  No need to do that 20 minute warm up Jen wanted me to do.  We made it to the start with about 10 minutes to spare.  With fewer than 150 entries, it's a nice, small field and most everyone knows eachother.  Lots of familiar faces!  After the race director gave his little talk about blazes to look for and water stops, we walked down the start of the path and....we were off!  15 yards down the trail and we turn into the woods.  We let most of the fast folks go ahead which turned out to be everyone except us and 5 other folks!  Tyler was in the lead group as he was out for the race win (he finished in a blazing 1:18!) 

Up down over stumps and trees through beautiful woods covered in a fresh dusting of snow.  It was spectacular!  We kept up some fun banter and stories as we wound our way through the wilds of central
Virginia.  I think we counted 7 creek crossings on our way out.  This year they added a water stop at the 3/7 mile marker.  The race registration page describes the course as 5% on gravel trails--I think it was more like 200 yards on gravel trails.  The rest was a little biddy path through the woods.  We didn't see many other racers until mile 4--they were all on their way back.  Did I say it was hilly?  Jen had estimated a 2 hr race, including that 20 minute warm up that I didn't do.  Ha!  We finished almost last in a whopping 2:30 ish.  We could've finished a little earlier had we not got lost at the 9.75 mile point, but what's an extra 4/10ths of a mile?  I was pretty much toast at mile 9 and was working hard to just keep with the pack for the last mile.  Getting left for dead in the woods was not my idea of a good time.  Here is the course profile from my Garmin:
Check out the overall elevation gain.  Whew!

We made it back to the start (not from the correct direction, however...) Time for breakfast!  Back at the cabin, while everyone showered and packed up, I made blueberry buttwheat pancakes (pun intended) with bacon.  Sharon made some warm cinnamon apple slices which was the perfect accompaniment!  Sated, we cleaned the remaining dishes and headed home.  I needed a nap before tackling my Revit homework, but Joe made an awesome dinner that night and I slept well.

Lessons learned:
  •  trail running is hard and taxes your brain as well as your body.  You have to pay attention to the trail or risk getting tripped up--there is very little time to admire the view. 
  • friends, good stories, and singing songs are all required! 
  • I would've paid very good money for a hot tub post-race!
  • trails are a good way of working more than just road running-specific muscles.  I couldn't walk the day after, my quads would not let me go down stairs--all those hills trashed them. Ouch.
Sign me up for next year!


Jennifer Harrison said...

Brr, for once it looks cold there! LOL - great job on that race, it was so so hilly!!!!! :)

tri-ing races not cases said...

Love it! Will definitely run wit you next yr.