Last Saturday (9/26) was the 3rd time I’ve run the Salem Lake Trail Run. It’s one of my favorites! The fall foliage, wide & smooth trail, and moderate temps make it awesome! More about Salem Lake here.
I was going for a streak on this race, similar to my streak with Moonlight Madness 5K, but last year I just couldn’t imagine running 7 miles when my body had only had 4 months to recover from the pregnancy, then giving birth to Asher. So I regretfully skipped last year’s. But in 2012, I ran the 30K (link from my previous blog), and 2 years ago I ran the 7 miler. I just found the pics from 2013 on Javi’s old iPhone!
I ran a 1:04-something two years ago, so this year I set out to finally beat my goal of running the entire loop around the lake in less than 1 hour. I knew this was very possible, as I ran a 50:22 for the 10K in March. So just add about 0.8 miles in 9 minutes? Should be easy. Turns out, I had to work pretty hard for it.
Friday’s nutrition wasn’t the best… I had a chicken kabob pita from Pita Delite for the first time (lunch) and that didn’t agree with me. Then I had nothing in the house for dinner, so I got a pizza on the way home from picking up my race # at Omega Sports. So that didn’t help. I pretty much knew I’d need an Immodium before the race, and I did. It rained, but thankfully wasn’t cold (60*-ish).
I woke up a 5:45 to eat an egg and 2 slices of toast. I then cooked breakfast for the boys, and got ready to go. I chose my orange tank so Javi could spot me easily, and my black Asic “go-to” shorts, for stashing a GU and my iPod prior to the race. The boys dropped me off, I hitched a ride to the start in one of th shuttle vans, and I hung out for about an hour. The 30K started at 8, and the 7 miler at 8:30. The rain was coming down steady, but not super hard. A little heavier than a mist.
I hit the bathroom around 8:10, warmed up for a few minutes, did my dynamic stretch routine, then took my pre-race GU. I stashed my sweatshirt in the event trailer, and got ready to run! My running acquaintance Julie from the Y was there, so we chatted for a few. I didn’t have any nerves at all, as I was merely running against myself and the 1 hour goal. Going off of past years’ results, I wasn’t going to be anywhere close to top 3 in my age group, so I figured I wouldn’t worry at all about placing.
I took it easy the first few miles, as I didn’t want to go out too hard. There’s a hill after the first mile that’s pretty big, so I eased up it and sprinted down the other side. My boys were waiting at the halfway point, Linville Road parking lot (where I normally park on a training run day). The map looks like this (from my Garmin watch, with the squares/commentary added in by me later:
As you can see, it’s not a full 7 miles, but it’s sure close. The course is very close to the lake’s edge, nearly all the time, so it’s gorgeous and scenic thru the woods. I was doing fine thru the first half, when I came up on the “cheer zone” and my wonderful husband and sons! Gabe handed off some water to me, since I didn’t realize there was a water stop there.
The race had photographers this time, unlike the last two times I ran it, so here’s my pic from him:
At this point, I started to get tired, but I told myself “no, you’re not tired!” I tried not to pay attention to my lagging legs, and for awhile I attempted to figure out why I felt so sluggish. Then I realized my speedwork lately has been pretty much… well, zilch. And my tempo runs… pretty non-existent too. And I just ran last weekend, as hard as I could, 100% effort. So, that explains it. I hung on the best I could, between 8:30 and 9:00 min miles.
The “back half” of the lake is relatively boring compared to the first half. Less hills, twists & turns, and less “landmarks” such as clearings, bridges, and overlooks. There’s one bridge, and you can see the railroad bridge in the distance, as well as hear I-40 Business. After that, there’s a snaking downhill portion that has several U-turns. I knew once I got there, I’d be nearly done, so I hung on and conserved for my downhill sprint. I was able to pass several people, then I just had to keep the momentum going, across the final bridge [a left turn, where the 30K goes straight… incidentally, the turn I missed the very first time I ever ran Salem Lake!]. And up the final hill. I chugged along, knowing that I was so close to meeting my goal of sub-1 hour. Two girls that had been in front of me pretty much the whole race, had slowed to a walk, so I was thrilled to pass them, only to have them pass me back… so on the final downhill stretch, I sprinted–not a 100% effort, but about 95%. I saw the boys, and the finish line!
I might add here that the finish line was actually a left turn that I would have missed, if they hadn’t put up a barricade. At least the race officials steered me in the right direction 🙂
I had (mistakenly) thought I was out of medal range, so when I later found out I came in 4th (again… womp) I was a bit perturbed. Third place ran 58:03. My official time was 58:56. 53 seconds… darnit! Next year the goal is top 3 in age group. I know I can go faster, but that day I didn’t have any “pep in my step” as my husband says. Here’s the stats from my Garmin:
We hit up the snack tent for fruit, pretzels, and M&Ms, then headed to Costco for our bi-weekly grocery shopping. Gabe & Javi later had their boys’ day out (lunch at Chik Fil A + the Minions movie!) Overall, a great race and a fun weekend!