It was a beautiful late November day in Birdsboro, PA, with temperatures hovering just above freezing, rain with the threat of snow, and a nice piercing icy breeze. Further south the Team Z bike ride was canceled for the day, and that was really my first sign that I was in for a treat with the weather. If I wasn’t getting picked up at 9:00 a.m., I may have stayed home. However, how often do you really get to go out into the woods and just savagely tromp through mud and scale hills? Not too often in Washington, D.C. I am afraid. So really, it was a day not to be missed. And even with the much less than ideal weather, it was really quite fun. Fun, if you definition of fun might be giving birth or getting hit by a car.
The trails were technical rocky root covered single track. As if that isn’t challenge enough, they were also covered in wet leaves. And it was pretty much 98% up or down long hills, some of which were very steep. And did I mention that this was a 15k? 9.6 miles or so? And 33 degrees and raining? It almost sounds like someone was trying to figure out the easiest way to kill 350 people at one time, doesn’t it? But luckily, no one was taken away in the ambulance this time.
It was cold, so at the start people took off fast but I did not get caught up in the rush. Instead I waited until we soon turned into the woods and went up hill for maybe a mile, and then people started quickly dropping off. People continued to drop off every time we turned back up hill again. By the first water stop I was told I was in 4th place for the women. I did not quite believe them until two more people told me as well. Along the way girl #5 caught up to me. Since she did not look older than me I figured she was surely in my 16-29 age group. I let her pass me but kept her easily in my sight. Long dramatic story short the race ended in a sprint, initiated by me with about half a mile to go, between, me, girl #5, and 2 guys. I am sure I could have waited a bit longer to pick it up, but looking back, I enjoyed making those 3 really hurt to the finish for what was likely and unnecessarily long amount of time. One of the guys beat me in our all our all out zone 8 run to the end, but he was sure struggling to do so, and I beat out girl #5 by 3 seconds (she was in my age group, well worth the effort for a turkey trophy).
So I came in 4th overall, with 2nd in my age group. I guess sometimes it really is worth it to brave the weather. My time was 1:24:14, or about 8:45 per mile. Which is actually better than I would have expected based on the conditions. It was also almost 5 minutes faster than 2 years ago. However, I guess I lucked out on the competition two years ago because I got second then too.
My friend Diane decided that 15k wasn’t long enough so midway through the race she made a wrong turn and added about 1.5 miles. By the time she returned her clothes weighed about an extra 10 pounds from the rain. The race director said she could claim “the idiot award.”
The race was great, but I think that the highlight of the day was scarfing pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and homefries (all covered in syrup and/or ketchup) afterwards in the warmth of the Exton Diner. I can’t imagine what the people in the restaurant thought had happened to us before we got there, but I am sure it was far more pleasant than the truth.