Pineland Farms, part one

Well my ill-advised ten day ten mile running challenge didn't quite work out. I completed the first day of the challenge, only to stop short at mile two on the second day. I had a disturbingly painful pain in my left calf, and assuming the worst, I called Jeff to have him come pick me up. I was sure I had some degree of calf strain, since the pain was definitely in the muscle and quite sharp. I resigned myself to probably six weeks off from running.

A few days later, after consuming massive amounts of muscle-repairing protein, I was convinced that I was completely fine. I had no pain in the muscle, even after poking and prodding, running, and jumping. After attempting a gentle three mile run, I was assured that whatever injury I thought I had was either gone or nonexistent. A couple days later, I tried a faster run to be sure. Again, no pain, no soreness, no problems.

Having firmly convinced myself that I was in fact, perfectly fine - if not in sanity, at least in musculature - I decided I was going to go for the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival 50K. I still had 20 weeks before my fall marathon, and having a good cushion before training begins in July, it didn't seem all that risky to me. If catastrophe struck, I still have time to rest before training again. And maybe I still had some of that marathon endurance kicking around somewhere...

After working Saturday night at the restaurant, I got up early Sunday morning to drive to Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine. It was a beautiful, pastoral campus with lush grass fields flanked by white fencing, and wide, well-maintained trails in the surrounding forest. It was a beautiful sunny, but mild spring day with temperatures only peaking around 60 degrees. Perfect running weather.

I quickly registered for the 50K and bought a bright yellow and green Pineland Farms trucker hat. A little cliche, but super cute with my bright yellow tank top. I also wore a bright pink skirt (which I had never worn before the race), bright pink compression socks, and my trusty Nike Frees. I thought about wearing my trail running shoes, but I knew the weight of those clunky suckers would drive me crazy. I had about four energy gels stuffed into my FlipBelt, another two or three jammed into the pocket of my handheld water bottle, plus a package of salt caplets. I was ready!

So cute. So dumb.

Or not. It hadn't even occurred to me that I have done absolutely no trail running this spring, and yet here I was about to embark on the longest run I've ever done on some extremely hilly trail terrain. Whoops. I just assumed that since I did a marathon, I could do 50K. Regardless, I was going to do it.

When I got in the start corral, I went to the very back of the pack to avoid starting too fast. And so did everyone else. People just kept moving further back to be in the back of the line, leaving just a small group at the start line, a wide gap in the middle, and everyone else trying to get behind everyone else. I had never seen anything like that at a race. When the announcer was counting us down, he assured us it was safe to move up to the start line. I took maybe a step or two forward. And then it was time.


Becky Clayton said…
Like you, I've never experienced runners trying to get to the BACK of the starting line/area before. I wonder if that's an ultra thing?! Oh, and I love the new hat! I'm curious about runners who use hand-held bottles. I feel like my hand would get profusely sweaty (or maybe I just sweat an inordinate amount!).