Before I begin today, let me start with what simply HAS to be said (even if I'm a bit late to the party here). HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the Chicago Blackhawks on becoming Stanley Cup champions again this year!!! I couldn't be more proud of my beloved Blackhawks for their grit, perseverance, fortitude, and unbelievable work-ethic. Who would have ever imagined that in the last 80 seconds of Game 6 the Hawks could go from the despair of a 2-1 deficit to the jubilation of a 3-2 lead within 17 seconds flat? Talk about heart-stopping moments. Even now I am still shaking my head in disbelief.
Much more about the Hawks to come another day. But for now, here's how Adam and I watched Game 5 from a Michigan beach town:
Not a bad way to roll, eh?
Okay, let's get down to the topic of the day. Last Friday I ran the Fenn Valley Winery 5K Frolic in the Vineyards. I was really excited to run my first-ever trail race through a vineyard with its own wine served during the post-race party!
I thought that running a trail race through vineyards wouldn't be that hard. I knew that trail races are generally done at slower paces than road races due to the terrain, but it's not like we were navigating through heavily wooded Brazilian rainforest mountains or anything of the sort. A vineyard couldn't be that different than your typical road race, right?
The race course involved running over unmowed grass, dirt, mulch, and just a bit of gravel road. I learned very quickly just how much the type of surface can slow you down. With the exception of the gravel roads, all of the surfaces were incredibly challenging to run through. The grass was soft and uneven with random sticks and branches providing plenty of trip hazards, and the dirt and mulch were not much better. I literally felt like I was running in quicksand the whole time. It was exhausting.
|Do not be fooled by this picture of the gravel path along the vineyards. Only a tiny, TINY little portion of the race was done on the gravel path. The vast majority of it was done in unmowed grass.|
To add to the challenging running terrain:
1) I forgot to bring my Garmin with me. And there were no mile markers out on the course. Therefore, I was basically running blindly with little or no sense of how far along I was, how fast I was going, and how much further I had to go.
2) There were several killer hills along the course. Given my state of struggle even without any inclines, I didn't even bother trying to run up any of the hills. Not a chance, not a chance.
Here are a couple of pictures from the start.
|Me lining up with other runners, waiting for the race to start.|
|And we're off! I'm a little off-center to the right in the white hat and purple shirt.|
I spent nearly the entire race looking down at the ground directly in front of me and doing what I could to stay upright. Even despite my caution, I still managed to turn my left ankle a couple of times. Regretfully, I was so focused on the immediate ground surfaces that I barely enjoyed the vineyard scenery.
All in all, it was the longest and toughest 5K I can ever remember running. 35 minutes and 12 seconds of gritting my teeth and trying my best to avoid tripping and falling and breaking my skull.
I was really, really relieved when I got to the finish line.
|Obligatory race photo body spasm celebrating the sight of the finish line|
I have a lot more respect now for cross-country runners. I seriously had no understanding until now how challenging the courses can be. Wow!
Onto the post-race party. It had a very local vibe to it. Refreshments featured some picnicky foods (sandwiches, chips, and pasta salad), plus gelato samples and one glass of wine per participant. A local band played and lots of raffle prizes were given out. Unfortunately there were a lot of mosquitos keeping us company and no bug spray to be found, so Adam and I didn't stick around very long.
I am very happy to make Michigan #4 on my list of states raced in, and I was happy to experience a trail race for the first time. However, I don't think I will run any more trail races. My joints and all trail runner afficionados will hate me for this, I know - but give me a running surface of asphalt and/or concrete anyday over grass!
My next race: the Home Team Charity Run 10K on July 14. (What better way to celebrate the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory than a race that features them, eh?!?!?)