Sunday, January 31, 2010

Piney Woods 10 Miler and Then Some

Yesterday was the Inaugural Race of the Piney Woods 10 Mile and 5K Trail Run.  It was held in the beautiful Lake Houston Wilderness Park.  I was not aware of this park's existence before this race but I am so glad to have finally been introduced to it.  It is a wonderful little gem in the Montgomery County area and will be a place I return to.

How I came to run this race was quite by accident.   With Alicia's baby being due any moment, I resigned myself to not commit to any races after the Texas Trail Run and until March.  Another wonderful race,  The Bill Crews Remission Run, was also held yesterday and I would love to have run that or even volunteered, but knowing that I would most probably be enjoying my first grandbaby, I erred on the side of caution and did not register.  

One night, in the midst of a "pre-Christmas" bout of insomnia, I received an email about a new race coming to the area.  The fact that it was a trail run caught my eye instantly, and thinking that the race was on January 3, 2010, I registered.   As soon as I received my confirmation email, I smacked myself in the head realizing that it was not the 3rd rather, it was the 30th!  Have I ever mentioned that I am stubborn about wearing my glasses?  In fact, as I struggle to type this, backspacing, erasing, re-doing the typing errors, my glasses sit upon my bedside table and I refuse to go get them...ok...I give.  I will go get them. 

Much better.  As the date approached for the race, my house has endured the pleasures of a nasty stomach flu which hit every member of the house until we were all down.  As soon as we came through the worst of it, Boo showed signs of yet another illness.  We had been battling sickness for 3 weeks straight.   Two days before the race, I began showing the signs of a nasty head cold and proceeded to pout like a baby.  A big baby.  And speaking of baby, on Friday, the day before the race, my pouting was interrupted by a call from my daughter with symptoms that anyone would have been convinced were signs of labor.  

She headed to the hospital and I threw back some God-awful over-the-counter cold medicines trying to mask the fact that I was sick.  I packed my bags and began to make the three hour trek to Temple, where she resides.  As Lem and I were making our way through the traffic of I-45, we made all the appropriate phone calls to families and friends and canceled all of our weekend plans.  As soon as the last phone call was made, Alicia called to say that the hospital was sending her home.  It was too soon.   So Lem and I turned around and headed back home fully expecting to get a call any moment to head back out.  

All night I waited.  Nothing.  I couldn't sleep one bit thinking that if I did fall asleep, I would never hear the phone.  As well, that cold medicine I had taken earlier was now keeping me wide awake.  So what does any sane person do while awaiting a phone call from their daughter who is about to have a baby, well they pack their bag and head to the race that they accidentally signed up for...that's what they do!

I arrived at Lake Houston Wilderness Park early enough to pick up my packet and move around the trails a bit to see what this place was all about.  Despite being very cold, 34 degrees, it was a great morning for a run.  

I have my little pre-race rituals that I go through.  One of the things that I do is use my inhaler 30 minutes before every run.  Exercise-induced asthma is no fun and in cold air, it's really bothersome.  As I attempted to administer the dosage, I realized that the inhaler was not working.  I tried unclogging it, but then discovered that the canister was empty!  Normally this would not be a problem because I always carry TWO inhalers with me.  Well, wouldn't you know, the bag I packed for the baby trip is the bag I placed my extra inhaler in.  Ugh.  The prospect of running in 34 degrees for 10 miles knowing that I would be battling the asthma demons was not appealing to me at all.  And then, a bright a shiny couple of faces meandered past my car.  Ed, Trudy, and Andy were there to run too!  I got out to say hello and decided that I would run even if it meant I walked most of the time.

As I made way to the start line, I noticed a woman using an inhaler.  I can't believe I did this, but I asked her for a puff or two!  She was more than happy to share with me, but I soon realized that my fear of putting her inhaler in my mouth, the fact that I was sick and didn't want to share it with her, made me only take one puff of medicine which ended up mostly in the air because I did not seal my mouth around the inhaler.  

I ventured forward to the start where all of the smart folks were standing around the bonfire!  I ran into Bill 
and Andrea and their beautiful family.  I also ran into Evan which was nice because I had not seen him in quite some time!  It was then that I realized I had forgotten my Garmin in the car.  Normally, I would not have cared, but facing the prospect of having an all out asthma attack on the trail, I really felt like I needed the gps to help me pace myself and be aware of where I was mileage wise.  I ran back to the car to grab it and made it just in time for the start.

Trudy and I decided to run this thing together.  She had also been ill with a head cold, so it was a perfect match.   Within just a few minutes, we discovered just how muddy this run was going to be.  We were ankle deep in mud for what seemed like miles.  While the resistance of the mud made running more challenging, it is also what makes this kind of adventure so much fun!  Slipping, sliding, swimming.  A total trail running blast!

Trudy did take a pretty good fall, but she is a tough girl and just got right back to it.  I saw Bill for a brief bit out there and he looked so strong.  He ended up having a great race and he is going to do very well at his first 50 miler next weekend!  

From about mile 6 - 8 our pace was quite slow between breathing issues and mud issues.  We had to venture off trail quite a bit to find solid ground to cross over.  At about mile 8.5 or so, I decided that the extra effort to stay on dry, solid ground was not worth the expense of energy and just started slogging through the mud and deep puddles.  It was fantastic!  What better way to forget about the cares of life than to get outside, get muddy, and run with a friend!

We were both pretty exhausted by the time we crossed the finish line with a time of  2:01.  Not a pretty time, but worth every second out there.  We weren't out there for a PR or to win any medals, unless they were giving them out for being the most muddy.  We had a great time and I would do it again in a heartbeat!  To sum this race up, I would say it was one of the very best times I have ever had racing!  Second in difficulty only to Hell's Hills when Tiffany and I ran an 11 mile loop in 3 hours amidst a torrential flood and lightening storm!

Andy ran his first trail run with a time of 1:33, I believe.  Amazing!  Trudy and Ed took 3rd in their AG which was well deserved.   Bill Gardner did a wonderful job of putting this race together.  He took great care of everyone and of course none of these races could ever work if it weren't for the volunteers.  Their level of dedication never ceases to amaze me.  

As I returned home, the cares of the day returned, most pressing, "IS MY GRANDBABY COMING YET?!"  She has decided to wait a bit longer.  Perfection takes time you know...


  1. So glad that you got a run in. I know that must have helped you find that balance that is off when people are sick. We are praying for that precious little one.

  2. Nice. I guess the asthma demons stayed away.