Number 45 is my favorite number of all time but I disliked number 45 during yesterday’s Wildwood Trail Marathon. I was being impulsive last Friday and signed up to run Wildwood Trail Marathon. It was my second trail marathon. My time was better than my first trail marathon (Bizz Johnson). It wasn’t my best marathon time but I had a great time. My goal in every race is to finish, have a great time, and don't be the last runner to finish. Before the race, an announcement was made that there were only 45 registrants for the marathon. I was like, "Holy s***t!!! " I’m not one of the fasties so chances are pretty high that I might be finisher number 45 if I don’t push myself even for a little bit.
I knew that trail runs involve hills and tons of them. The total elevation gain is 2,350'. My race strategy before the race was "5-min run then 1-min walk" but that did not materialize because of the hills. Instead I walked the hills and ran downhills and flats. At the half-way mark aid station, I asked the volunteers how many runners came by at the aid station, and I was told that I was probably the 25th or so runner. I felt somehow relieved when I heard that but after about 45 minutes of not seeing any runner going the opposite direction, I started to feel anxious and thought what the volunteers at the aid station told me, “Yeah, right. 25th runner or so... I am obviously more in or so.” All those time, it was only me and the 3 runners behind me though after 30 minutes, the two of them passed me. That left me and the one runner. Few more minutes passed and still no runners going the opposite direction. I finally told myself, “Finisher number 45 could either be me or that one runner behind me.” I kept going and that runner behind me finally caught up with me. I told her to go ahead of me but stayed with her. She and I eventually started chatting and she happened to be a DailyMile member too! How cool was that?!!! We chat, ran, walked, and repeat. And then finally! We came across a runner coming from the opposite direction! I told myself, “Okay, I can definitely relax.” After another 30 minutes, another one showed up. I made Debbie well aware that even though I’m slow, I don’t want to be finisher number 45. Debbie and I continued on... chat, ran, walked and repeat. My left hamstring was acting up towards the end of the race that going downhill was a little challenging. About mile 5 from the finish line, we caught up with this guy Brian who is doing his first marathon. Debbie and I joked with him that of all the marathons he could have chosen, he chose a trail marathon for his first. One thing the three of us had in common was we signed up on whim! Debbie signed up on Tuesday, Brian on Thursday, and I signed up on Friday. The three of us had a great time chipping away the remainder of the miles. Finally, we saw the wooden railings which reminded us that we were really getting close to the finish line so the three of made a loud cheer!!! Not too long after we cheered, I saw hubby waiting and he cheered us on! Seeing my hubby was a treat! Hubby, by the way, ran the half-marathon. He ran with me for about half a mile then he told me that he’ll meet me at the finish line because he just had lunch. I continued and Debbie and Brian were not too far behind me. I was finisher number 38 out of 43!!! Debbie was finisher number 39, and Brian was finisher number 40. Whew!
Finisher Number 38
It was a great experience running Wildwood Trail for the first time and also having company during those last grueling miles. The trail was so grand and gorgeous! It was humbling to be able to run in this gorgeous place. There were tons of slug-casualties on the trail, and one little mouse too. I was very good on not stepping on them, thankfully! Why is that some slugs love to lay straight on the trail?!! Do they have death wish or something? I also witness one runner slipped and fell. I offered her help but she said she was fine. I also saw one older gentleman with his knees bleeding and he was finisher number 26, by the way.
Debbie and I already agreed that she and I will definitely go for a long run at Wildwood Trail one of these days. Debbie is also thinking about doing the PCT 50-miler in July 2011 so that was exciting! In the end, my impulsiveness paid off. I will definitely do this run again and next year and be prepared for those hills!