Confession: I am not a trail runner.
Each weekend, the Charleston area has multiple races and events, and 90% of the time, I choose the road event. I like running the bridge, roads, bike paths, and on the track. Repeats on the “evil oval” are my idea of a good time, and I don’t mind the treadmill.
I’m scared of snakes and other wildlife in the woods, and I don’t like dirt and mud. If I sign up for a trail race, it is for a good cause.
The Peyton’s Wild and Wacky 5K was a great cause in memory of Peyton, my friend Noah’s son who passed away due to a seizure in 2013. Peyton was nine years old and already wise beyond his years. He helped his dad coach the MooreOnRunning Couch to 5K class, encouraged other runners, and was a rockstar athlete for the Mt. Pleasant Recreational Department- throwing javelin, running track, and playing football. Peyton was a boy scout, honor roll student, and all around good kiddo.
Hundreds of runners, walkers, and volunteers came together on Saturday to remember Peyton and support his family by participating in the 5K or 50K (10 X 5K format, which is 10 hours with runners completing a 5K on the hour each hour).
The “everyone 5K” started at 11 AM, right in the middle of the 50K (10 x 5K) run. With a late start, I slept in until 8 AM, drank coffee and ate breakfast, and went for a shakeout run in my neighborhood. Normally, I opt to warm up at the race, on the race course, but with the ultra and relay runners on the course, this wasn’t an option.
I also wanted to make sure my old, worn out, shoes worked before wearing them during the race. I don’t have trail shoes, so I just save my worn-out trainers for dirty runs, and I hadn’t worn these since last year’s Peyton 5K. For the record, I wore Mizuno Wave Precision, which were last made in 2013- so they were OLD. The shoes felt okay so I headed out for the 45 minute drive to Laurel Hill Plantation.
A few ultra runners gave me course updates on Facebook, saying it was pretty muddy and technical. The 50Kers ran four 5Ks before the “everyone 5K” started, so the course got worse as the day progressed.
I’ve worked for years to drill road racing strategies into my head and legs, and this trail run would go against those strategies. First, you have to race the course, not the clock. Second, I had no clue who the competition was. Some runners on the course were ultra runners and some were “everyone 5Kers”- and there was no way to know who.
With no mud at the start, I started too fast on purpose. I wanted to get ahead of as many people as possible because passing would be hard on a single-track trail in the woods. I also wanted to run as fast as I could on the non-muddy, dirt road areas. Most of my running was slower because the course only had a few sections of hard, packed, terrain. The course signs had pictures of Peyton, and this was a nice touch and reminder of who the race honored.
We hit the mud pretty early in the first mile, as well as a 180 turn straight into the woods- and more mud. My first mile split was 8:08, and I found myself asking where all the mud came from because it hasn’t rained in Charleston in several weeks. It wouldn’t surprise me if Noah dumped water on the course the night before and created the mud holes himself. I avoided as much mud as possible, but when I couldn’t, I felt my feet sink into the mud. My already-too-heavy-for-5K-racing trainers soaked up the mud and got heavier.
In Mile 2 (8:36), I found myself running by 2 kids and behind another female. I knew she wasn’t running the 50K, but thought she went out a bit fast. I couldn’t speed up to pass with so much mud, so I conserved energy until we got to a patch of dirt road. This wasn’t a clean race at all- not only was the course dirty, but so was my language when I hit the mud puddles. I felt bad because lots of kids were around hearing me!
In Mile 3 (7:46), I hit the giant puddle and got my singlet muddy. Darn- I was hoping to keep all mud below the waist! We hit an out and back section of a dirt road, and while it had a lot of rocks, I was able to pick up some momentum and pass the other lady. I saw Chris and Cortez from Without Limits Charleston at the aid station, which was a nice boost and reminder that the finish was near. The mud was over, so I focused on holding the other female off, cruising it in to finish in 24:31.
After the race, I cooled down on the course, cheered for some friends, and hung out with some ultra runners between their 5K races. I also got some refreshments. Ultra marathons have the best refreshments. I had a PB&J sandwich and Nutter Butter cookie, which tasted so good- I think PB&J might be a new recovery meal for me.
The awards ceremony was at 1 PM. I never saw the results, so I’m glad I stuck around for awards because I was 3rd place female overall. It was a rather small 5K, and the fast ladies (minus the two ahead of me) must have run elsewhere that morning or opted for the 10 X 5K.
For placing, I received a painted rock. I have a painted rock from winning my age group at last year’s Peyton 5K, so I placed this one beside the other one on my porch. Age groupers won tervis tumblers full of chocolates/candy.
While I had no goal time for this race (hard to set a time goal on a trail), I met my #1 goal of finishing injury-free. At least two runners sprained ankles on the course. I am kind of a klutz, and with the Cooper River Bridge Run coming up, I’m glad I didn’t get hurt.
Last Saturday, I was too sick to walk to my mailbox, let alone run a 5K. After skipping the Bosch 5K, I was thankful to show up at the Peyton 5K, run, and be with friends. Regardless of race results, awards, and times, I love the atmosphere of a Saturday morning race. I missed that when I was stuck on the couch, and I was glad to experience it at Peyton’s run.
Race Name: Peyton’s Wild and Wacky 5K, 50K, and Relay
Location: Mt. Pleasant, SC (Laurel Hill Plantation)
Date and Time: March 12, 2016, 11 AM 5K start
Swag: Short sleeved tech shirt (gender specific), backpack, towel (5Kers), hat (50Kers), finisher’s medals for all runners.
The swag bag was really cool- I picked it up the day before and had fun unpacking it and finding little surprises like a toy monkey and a granola bar.
Post-race food: Jim and Nick’s BBQ sandwiches, refreshment table (PB&J, oranges, candy, pretzels, cookies, bacon, bananas), water, gatorade.
Weather: 75 degrees, 69% humidity, sunny. First post-race sunburn of the year!