Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wildcat Ridge Romp Race Report

The Wildcat Ridge Romp is a trail run put on by the NJ Trail Series. This year's race was held on August 10th. 

I signed up for the 10 mile distance, and as I posted in the weeks coming up to the race, was not quite able to put in the training due to moving and wedding planning. I figured that I could take it easy and finish, so that was the game plan going in. 

The weather gods smiled down on us that morning and provided us with a not-too-sunny, not humid, perfect-for-running day. I arrived around 8:30 and saw several of the ultra runners coming through the aid station on one of their laps. They had already been running for a couple of hours!  
When the 10M started, I took my place at the back and tried not to go out too fast following the faster runners. After a half or three-quarters of a mile, the course turned uphill. Some people were powering up it, others were slowing down, and some were walking. I was hopping lightly up with a quick cadence that didn't feel like I was expending too much energy. As I passed some people, I saw that I could make some moves and pass more.  I put a little more effort into it and finally settled into a comfortable position. I still ended up leap-frogging some people, but for the most part, everyone here was running with similar paces. When I got around mile two, my support staff (human and canine) was there to greet me. The pup wasn't on a leash, and when she saw me, she bolted after me and right onto the trail, where she ran with me until the next road crossing. 
Anna is admiring the view after unexpectedly joining the race.
I was afraid that the other runners would be annoyed that she was in the way, since she has a tendency to come barreling up behind you on the single track, but most people enjoyed seeing her bounding through the woods and trotting down the dirt roads. 

Anna hangs out with a 50K runner.

After running with me for about 2 miles, Anna was leashed and held captive while I got to continue frolicking in the woods.
I may have passed an ultra runner during one of my peppier sections, but for the most part, when I heard someone coming up behind me, I stepped aside for them to pass. I was extremely impressed by their speed and nimbleness after all of those miles. It seemed like everyone on the course was courteous and supportive. Thanks, everyone, you were awesome! 

The trail was a great mix of terrains. Lots of single track up and down hills in the woods, some wide dirt roads, rock gardens, large stream crossings, and there were a couple of blown-down trees to climb over. I was running along a wide path next to a really pretty stream when I took the picture to the right. I didn't have a lot of speed, and the soles of my feet were hurting from the rocks, since I was advised that my particular trail shoes are bad for my feet and that I should stick with my road shoes until I get new trail kicks. Anyway, I was just hanging out, running through the woods. I had to walk through a lot of sections, especially the  rocks and slick mud, since I didn't have much traction, but I felt pretty good. 

Here's the dam for the reservoir that supplies Newark's drinking water.
Talking about varied terrain, there was a bit of a rock scramble to get up from the base of this reservoir to the top. I walked it, was disappointed that there was no water left at the aid station at the top, and then was rewarded with a view across the reservoir.

As I ran up to the end of the reservoir, my support staff was waiting for me.  Anna jogged along with me for a little while before returning to captivity.
In the final three miles, I started to feel a little more uncomfortable. I had almost finished my water/Gatorade solution and was very thirsty. I got a side stitch and downed the rest in my bottle, hoping that the aid station at 8.5 miles would have water. It did, and after the volunteer there pointed me in the right direction, I was in the home stretch. The section right after the aid station was flat and downhill, but the surface was sooo rocky on my sore feet.  My side stitch improved after drinking, but for a while I couldn't focus on anything but how much the balls of my feet hurt. I didn't see anyone else around me for about a mile and a half or two miles.

The trail came out into a housing development, on the road for a little. My knees hurt at this point, and I felt my under-training. I was soon back on trail, though, and when I came back out onto a road again, it was the last half mile before the finish line. I didn't have any speed in me, but I finished feeling really good about the experience.  
The finish!

I enjoyed being out there with all of the other runners. I loved the adventurous feeling of not knowing where I was going and what I was going to see or do next. I was proud of myself for being able to complete the distance without feeling as if it had caused some major injury, and even though I had felt those twinges in my knees and the pain in my feet, when I was finished, I felt great. I wasn't totally wiped out or limping for a week. I was sore, but a good sore. (I guess I can credit foam rolling for that.) Now I can't wait for my next trail run!

No comments: