For the second year in a row I decided to run the William O’Brien 10 mile trial race, north of Stillwater, MN. It’s a fun fall race on very runnable trail, with some decent hills on a beautiful prairie. It’s a small race, but you’re bound to run into people you know there. Many people who were at Fall Superior either run or volunteer at William O’Brien, so much of the conversation is reminiscing of a week ago up north. It was so much fun to catch up again with everyone, and there were so many I’m not even going to try to name everyone, lest I leave someone out.
I was also pleasantly surprised to run into an old co-worker, David, who decided to sign up for the race and try out this whole trail racing thing. He and I hadn’t connected for many years, so it was a ton of fun to get to catch up with him, and introduce him to a great community of runners. He got to hear all about the crazy stuff we trail runners do, such as 50K and 50 mile races, and the occasional 100 miler. As I was standing and talking with Tim, David was listening as we talked about rough trails, and brutal nights. He finally broke in, saying with a smile, “You know, you guys aren’t making me want to do more trail runs!”
As for the race itself, I had managed to beat 1:50 last year, and I wanted to see if I could at least match my time. I knew that last year I went out way too fast to start with, since the first section of the course is on easy road and trails, and I’m sure it hurt me towards the end on the hills. This year, I managed to slide into a 10 minute mile for my first mile, before easing into a nice 10:30. In my head I started doing the math to figure out what I needed to maintain to beat my previous time. Things were tight but not out of reach.
I managed to run up the first hill on the road back from the campground, and I kept running solidly until the huge long hill at mile 4. Once I crested the top I went back into running, but almost immediately I felt tired. I started to feel like my legs just didn’t want to move, and keeping up the pace I wanted to do, was difficult. I managed to keep running (albeit slower) for a long time before needing to walk up another hill before the final aid station. As I started doing the math I realized that beating last year’s time wasn’t going to happen. It just wasn’t my day in the speed department.
I still felt like I could come in at 1:50 though so I set my sights on trying to push the final sections a bit. At the same time the sun had warmed the day up and I was having some chaffing on my chest. I made the executive decision to subject all the other runners to my pasty white chest and take off my shirt. I’m not built like some of the local guys who look good without shirts, so my shirtless running tends to be more “giggly-middle-aged-dude”, and less “bad-ass-trail-runner”. The tattoo on my upper arm does help some, but you have to get past being blinded by my white-ness first.
As I approached the finish I saw the clock as it said 1:49:45. I sprinted as fast as I possibly could, rudely blowing past some poor guy trying to bring it home, but alas I couldn’t make it before the clock tipped over to 1:50. I crossed a few seconds after 1:50, somewhat disappointed, but happy with my finishing kick.
It’s probably best I didn’t push too hard, as I have a 24 hour race coming up this weekend, and need to be able to just keep moving through that, no matter the speed. Despite not quite making my goal time I had a great time, and felt like I mastered the hills much better this year.
I spent a bit more time chatting with friends, watched the award ceremony, and posed for a picture with the UMTR folks, before deciding it was time to head home. It was a great morning, and once again another reason why I love being out on the trails with such wonderful people, in beautiful surroundings.