This race wasn't on my radar initially. Instead I was going to do the Noblesville Half Marathon but a friend of mine was having a birthday party later in the day and the Trail Run was closer to my house. That meant I would have less travel time before needing to be at the party.
I had volunteered for it the year before and had lots of fun.
Registration had some hiccups and the discount code wasn't working initially but I know the director of this race and she eventually got it straightened out for me.
FRIDAY, MAY 24th: Packet pickup was at the Keystone Fashion Mall which isn't far from where I work but not close enough to get it done at lunch so I went after work. For some reason they had me listed on the Quarter Marathon list but once again the Race Director was there and knew I was a Half participant and got it switched for me.
I've gotta be honest, I was nervous about this race. This was a legit TRAIL race and I'd never done a trail race before. Should I have trial shoes? How much longer will it take me? Will I trip and fall over a branch/rock/wild animal thus breaking a bone and be out of commission for the next month or so? These are all questions that I posed to my running friends that are more familiar with - and that have done - trail races. The general consensus was - that I would be fine! (...and trail shoes wouldn't be necessary.)
SATURDAY, MAY 25TH: The weather was mostly ideal race morning. Thankfully it wasn't too hot or humid. (It WAS last year!)
The only adjustment that I made was that I wore my older running shoes because I wasn't sure if there would be a lot of mud. My other concern was my phone. I wanted to have it with me because I was certain there would be things that I wanted to take pictures of but I also didn't want to drop it, fall on it, break it, lose it...you get the idea. So I wasn't sure what to do. Since this was a two lap course, I thought it might be best to just complete one lap to get a feel for the trail overall and keep my phone put away. Then I could have it out for the second loop.
Upon seeing my friend TR at the Indy Women's Half Marathon tent, she said I could keep my phone there. Perfect. I put it in one of her bags and then it was time to line up.
As long as I saw pink ribbons, I would be okay!
So the first lap went fairly well. I didn't trip or fall and there weren't really any muddy areas aside from the "bog" section. I was surprised by the congestion that some areas had and there were some narrow passes but I felt confident that I could do the second loop with my phone and get some pictures. So once we were out of the trail and back at the start area, I ran over to the tent and grabbed my phone. Little did I know that I was also making a crucial course error.....but more on the later.
As I headed back into the trail, I saw the race director and chatted briefly while I downed some Gatorade.
While I've been to Eagle Creek Park numerous times, I've never "explored" it so I got to see a lot of this for the very first time.
I wasn't expecting steps! During the first loop, this was an area that got congested but during the second loop, there weren't many others still on the trail or at least near me.
Views along the course:
I always made sure that I am found the pink ribbons to guide my way:
I was about to enter a part of the course that was open and exposed to the sun. It had really warmed up during this second loop. I was walking at this point although since it was flat, I should have been running. During this section, I had a nice conversation with a girl that had done this race last year. As she was about to start running again, she joked that we'd probably catch up again at some point. She shouldn't have been right about that but she would be. More on that later.
I was happy to be headed back into the shade!
I couldn't believe how large this tree was. I reminded me of my trip to Yosemite.
I didn't realize that the park had a Ornithology (the study of birds) Center. And I'm not certain what type of bird this is. Does it look like a falcon?
Nor did I know that there was a "fitness trail" within the trail.
Midway through the loop is the only aid station. This is what I volunteered for last year and some of the guys were back again this year. They were so much fun. During the first loop, they had jello shots but I did not partake. Loops two - they were out of jello shots but they had some brownies and were kind enough to offer me some. At that point in time, they were the best brownies ever! I was really hungry and was thankful to eat those instead of taking a gel.
It was so green and lush in places...
...and so many beautiful flowers.
The "natural" obstacle certainly became more difficult on loop 2:
But at least the bog wasn't as challenging or as muddy as they say it was last year.
Nearing the end of the race I passed a man just as he's caught a fish. Naturally I had to take a picture. But not far from him was this family(?) of geese. You can see them giving me the ol' stink eye as I passed.
Remember the girl I spoke about that said we might see each other on the course again? With about 1/2 mile to go, all of the sudden I see her coming toward me but from a different path. At first I thought maybe she had already finished and was coming back on the course to cheer on a friend. But unfortunately she'd made a wrong turn and didn't pay attention to the fact that she wasn't seeing any pink ribbons at first. Although I felt bad that this had happened to her, it put me in front of her...where I stayed through to the finish.
This race is great about GIRL POWER and positive energy for women. They always have fun chalk sayings at the finish line. "Power to the She"
The one chalk mark/sign that I should have paid attention was this one: HALF STAY RIGHT
I didn't realize that when I came off the trail after the first loop and ran over to get my phone from the Indy Women's tent, I missed crossing the timing pad. When results were later posted, I was nowhere to be found. And although it took months to get me listed on the official results page, they were nice enough to use my Garmin timing. I mean its not like I knocked anyone off the podium or anything with my finishing time!
Every finisher get a cupcake from The Flying Cupcake (which are AMAZING) and a super cute medal.
And free pictures that you can download from their Facebook page!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS RACE:
- I really thought I would hate a trail race but I didn't. It was actually fun and if works with my schedule for next year, I'll do it again.
- I no longer have the pricing structure but it was about what an average half marathon would cost if you get in before any of the increases. I paid a little over $50.
- You do not get a shirt with your registration fee. This did make me a little sad becasue the shirts we got last year as volunteers were super soft cotton shirts and I was hoping that's what the participant shirt was as well. I think it was $10 extra for the shirt.
- Lots of ladies stick around until the very last finisher crosses the line. YAY!
This was Lifetime Half Marathon #74 and the 4th of 2015.