I was fortunate to work at the park for more than 3 years. And while employed there I learned of an awesome race over the trails of the 1500 acre natural woodlands, the Allerton Park Trail Run. I had participated in the run a number of times,but only in the capacity of helping to set up for the event as an employee of the park. But this year I was finally able to participate in the race as a runner!
The race consists of a 5.7 mile run through the wooded paths. There are a tremendous amount of obstacles such as natural springs forded by fallen logs, tree roots, concrete culverts, and random walnuts that all serve as trip hazards along the run. The organizers do a great job of identifying as many of these obstacles as possible, but nevertheless I was still very nervous about the opportunity for injury.
I really took my time in the first part of the run, partially to avoid the possibility of injury and partially because of the congestion of runners on the early trails. I finished my first mile in exactly 10 minutes. I was well below my normal pace and was not even breathing with difficulty. As the path flattened out along the river bed and the congestion began to clear up, I picked up my pace significantly as my confidence increased.
There were still a couple of times that I was not so sure-footed. You would be amazed at how close you can get to breaking an ankle when you step on a fallen walnut the wrong way. I also got lazy a couple of times with my form and stumbled dramatically; I never went all the way down to the ground, but I was really close!
When I reached the Death of the Last Centaur sculpture, I knew it was time to pick up the pace. The slow start had afforded me plenty of energy to finish strong. I did forget that there were a couple of significant hills to finish the race, and as I neared the finish line I was feeling pretty gassed. Just then I heard another runner start his final kick and I gave a quick glance over my shoulder to size up the competition. Just that little glance gave me the motivation to avoid being passed. The other runner kept up with me for a couple of strides, and then I heard him say "I am not gonna do it," and I knew I had him beat.
|"You can't catch me!"|
P.S. I ran my first 200yd dash in 32.09 seconds and did 4 pull-ups in a row! But the winter weather is fast approaching. I had better hurry up if I want to get to 30 sec and 5 pull-ups!