Yesterday I ran the Tyler Trail 10k for the second consecutive year with my friend Janine. This race really embodies what trail running is all about, and is near and dear to my heart. The 2013 Tyler Trail 10k was my first trail race EVER. The course is run on beautiful and well maintained trails through Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA. Once again, we had a wonderful time!
When I signed up for this race over the winter, I had two goals in mind:
1) Beat my 2013 time of 55:06.
2) Place in my age group (I missed a medal by one spot last year)
I was hesitant to write these goals out in a post beforehand because I had just raced The Love Run half marathon only 6 days prior, and wasn't sure if my legs would recover in time. Luckily, I rested a lot during the week leading up to the 10k and my legs felt fresh on race day.
Janine and I arrived around 8:15, picked up our bibs and t-shirts, and took some sweet pre-race pics in the parking lot.
We headed down to the start around 8:55 for the 9 AM start with about 400 other runners. The race directer yelled "go!" and we were off! I took off fast, and my legs felt great after resting for most of the week. Once we past the 1 mile marker, my watch read 7:13 which i knew was WAY too fast for a 10k pace, even though the first mile included a lot of downhill.
Soon after, we came to the first of four water crossings. The water was about 6-8 inches deep so it wasn't possible to get through without getting wet.
The next couple of miles included lots of hills, which I was completely unprepared for. I remembered that it was a hilly race from 2013, but last year I was regularly training at Wissahickon Park, and was in peak shape for a trail 50k. This year, I've been training to run shorter and faster on flat pavement, which does not lend itself to a hilly trail race. Regardless, I pushed through the inclines, mostly running but also hiking when my breathing was too labored.
I ended up hitting the halfway point somewhere around 27 or 28 minutes, and thinking that I needed to speed up to achieve my first goal of beating my 2013 time. Since I went out way too fast and was unprepared for the hills, I felt like I had already hit the wall at 3.1, and couldn't imagine running a faster second half. At that point, I decided my number one goal was to maintain my place and not let any women pass me rather than focus on time.
This proved to be a good motivational strategy for the remainder of the race. Most of the runners around me were men, but there were two other women close by that I wanted to keep behind me. I still felt pretty slow and weak on the uphills in the back half of the course, but around mile 5, I felt a surge of energy as my endurance training kicked in. I decided to run faster, since I still had a shot at beating last year's time.
The last mile included a lot of uphill climbing, which I definitely remembered from last year's race. I turned on the jets for the last half mile, and eventually sprinted uphill to the finish line after spectators shouted that someone was coming right up behind me. It made for quite an interesting finish line photo:
My finish time was 54:29, a 37 second PR for this course. I was really proud to beat my time from last year, especially because I felt like I wasn't in peak trail racing shape this year. I also finished 2nd in my age group (18-29) which made the day even better.
Overall, I had a wonderful time again at the Tyler Trail 10k. This race will be on my calendar for years to come, and I hope to improve each year. Plus, It's always more fun racing with friends!