Sunday, November 4, 2012

Race Report: Big Woods Run

Even though this race report from a few weeks ago, I am posting it anyway as it hallmarks a distinct running moment in my journey as a female runner. 

I signed up for the Big Woods Run trail half-marathon with my friend, Rose, before I knew I was pregnant.  I ran this race in 2010 and it remains one of my favorite trail races in Minnesota as the course follows wooded paths up and down hilly ravines.  Come October 2012 and four months pregnant, I wasn't willing to drop out of the race as I ached for the solitude of the tall trees and the sound leaves crunching beneath my running shoes.

Rose and I started the race together with the plan that she would run ahead after a couple miles and I would find her husband after running five or six miles.   The problem with this plan is that the race course looks like this:
The only place accessible to cars is where highway 29 crosses the course, somewhere around mile three or four.  Now if you know me at all, I am just getting warmed up at that point!  Secretly, I think I already recognized this "problem" and I subconsciously decided that I would complete the full race (as long as I truly felt fine).  This is not unlike the mentality that I used to finish my first marathon in 2008.

I breathed in the smell wet pines and oak leaves as I relaxed into an easy pace around mile 5.  Although I stayed connected with Timbuk (the growing Vasich) to see if the little one was enjoying the ride through the woods, I felt more at peace than I had in weeks.  A soft rain kept my skin fresh.  Over thirteen miles, my inner animal rejoiced as my heart pumped, my legs stretched, and my mind focused on each physical sensation. This may sound silly, but I really sensed that Timbuk and I were a team and Timbuk was loving it.

Whereas the first mile is on a paved road working downhill from the church, mile thirteen is just the opposite.  Big Woods Run is famous for this last uphill.  As racers say, the church seems to get farther away with each step towards it.  I was jubilant at this point- passing runners and thinking in my head, "four months pregnant, suckers!"  Now, I know this is a little competitive (okay, a lot competitive) and not peaceful at all, but it did make me smile as I made my way to the finish.  Rose and Dustin cheered me on in disbelief as I waved my hands in the air as I crossed the line.