Racing on a trail provides a new running challenge

Posted at 5:03 PM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-06 21:19:55-05

I stood at the base of a steep incline, covered in sharp rocks and gnarly roots, and thought there was no way I was running up THAT.

At least, not very fast!

Over the weekend, I ran my 11th half-marathon: The Little Patuxent River Run in Howard County. It was my first race on a trail, and my first official race running as an ambassador for Rip It Events, a Howard County-based race management company. (Disclosure: As an ambassador, I get to run all Rip It events for free. All views expressed in this blog post are mine!)

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The 13.1-mile race fit in perfectly with my training for the Charlottesville Marathon, but I was a bit nervous about racing on an off-road path. I am not known for my coordination and have fallen while running on the cobblestone streets of historic Annapolis and on the sidewalks in Rodgers Forge. So, I knew there was a strong possibility that I could fall on this course.

But I didn’t! I made sure to look where I was running, and while I certainly didn’t PR (I ran a full nine minutes slower than my last half, the Annapolis Running Classic in November), I got second place in my age group.  

RELATED: The Annapolis Running Classic: A challenging and scenic course

The run began on a paved surface and then continued for a mile or so down a dirt path, crossing a road before it became a “technical” trail. In other words, the Patuxent and Wincopin Trail was dotted with rocks, roots and uneven surfaces. It would be easy to trip if you were just taking a leisurely hike by yourself, let alone racing around other people.

But I liked the added challenge of trail running. Even the most enthusiastic runners can get bored running on the road for hours at a time, especially if you train on the same routes day after day. This course followed the Little Patuxent and Middle Patuxent rivers and I found myself distracted by the pretty scenery, when I wasn’t eyeing the ground beneath me to watch my step.

The inclines provided good training, too, especially because I am expecting the Charlottesville Marathon to be hilly. “This is where champions are made!” one of my fellow ambassadors said as we trudged up one hill. I had to agree! And so do my aching quads.

The race was a 10K and a half-marathon, and both races began and ended at the Guilford Pratt Truss Bridge. 10K runners ran one loop, and half-marathoners ran two (so according to my GPS watch, it wasn't a perfect 13.1 race, but .. oh well.)

I would have preferred warmer temperatures—it was 32 degrees at the start of the race, but hey, it was Feb. 5. I was just thankful it wasn’t snowy and icy.

Interested in running a Rip It race? Email me or contact me on Twitter for your 10 percent off discount code! 

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