The Challenge

Meditations in Motion
Nope! Still can’t take a good selfie.

On Saturday, My hubby Bill and I traveled to Williamsport, a town about two hours north of us, to take part in the Williamsport Community Challenge trail race.

This is the fourth year the race has been held and the third time I have participated, so you can tell it’s a run I really like. Both of the previous times I did the race I ran the half marathon version (there is a half marathon course, a 10K and a 5K), but this year, because the race was less than two weeks after the Marine Corps Marathon, Bill and I opted for the 10K.

One intriguing feature of the race is that the race director changes each course every year, so even if you do the same distance two years in a row, you will not be running the same race. Another interesting feature is that you get to run on the Williamsport Water Authority property, a place usually off-limits to hikers, bikers, and runners.

Meditations in Motion

Before registering for the race, I looked at the course map. My family knows I am unable to read a map, so this was an exercise in futility. I learned nothing about the course. Bill had run the 10K before and really enjoyed it. Run mostly on logging roads, it was a very runnable course. New course each year, though.

Then we began getting emails from the race director describing how much more difficult the 10K would be this year compared to previous years. He wanted to make it more challenging. He also warned us the course would be longer than the advertised distance (not unusual for a trail race).

I received these emails, read them, and promptly forgot about the warnings as I trained for the marathon on my schedule.

Meditations in MotionWe arrived at the race site early, picked up our bibs, and went back to our car to stay warm before the race start. The temperature was 19 degrees when we woke up that morning, quite a difference from the 80-degree temperatures at the Marine Corps Marathon less than two weeks ago.

15 minutes before the start we ambled over to the starting line (two orange cones set up on a dirt road), looked for our friend who was also doing the race, listened to the race director’s brief instructions (Follow the orange ribbons!), and were off.

Meditations in Motion

The first part of the race was run on a dirt logging road. It was crowded with 400 runners and difficult to settle into a comfortable pace. We turned onto another, even rougher logging road at the half-mile mark and began climbing. And climbing.

The climb soon worked to thin out the runners and the trail quickly became much less crowded. I ran for the first part of the climb but soon switched to a run-walk strategy. As we climbed, I passed people when I ran, then saw them pass me while I walked. The runners who passed me, however, began to diminish as the climb wore on past the one-mile, then the two-mile mark and I wound up passing a bunch of runners on the way up.

I should mention that all distances are approximations since I forgot my watch. I was running “naked” and actually had no idea what the distances were.

Shortly after what I imagined was two miles, we turned off the logging road onto singletrack strewn with many rocks and roots. We were still climbing, but now the climb was at a steeper pitch and there were obstacles to contend with.

As we approached mile three, I could see that we were nearing the top of a mountain. “This has to be the end of the uphill,” I thought, and the tails did indeed level off. We rounded a bend, and I could see the trail held one more climb, the steepest of all, up a path consisting entirely of rocks.

I climbed the path, looked briefly at the magnificent view from the overlook at the top of the mountain, and finally began descending. The path leading down the mountain, however, was just as rocky as the one leading up, and I put on the brakes.

All of the people whom I passed on the way up, passed me on the way down.

We followed this rocky singletrack for about a mile, then turned off onto another rough, leaf-covered logging road. This was my favorite part of the race. I could open up and fly (relatively speaking) on the downhill logging road. I loved it!

At the end of the logging road, there was an aid station before we turned back onto more rocky singletrack. One of the guys manning the aid station yelled, “You’re almost done!

Really?” I asked skeptically, “Am I really almost done?” “Ummm…yesss…sort of,” he answered sheepishly. I knew I was not almost done.

We ran for another mile or so on narrow, rocky singletrack. At times it was difficult to tell where the trail was because the entire forest floor was leaf-covered, but the race director was right, I just had to follow the orange ribbons to stay on course.Β Meditations in MotionWe passed through a clearing where the trail surface switched to grass and I could soon begin to hear the noise of the finish line. I crossed the mat in 1:18, good enough for second place in my age group.

If you are in northern Pennsylvania the second weekend in November, I highly recommend this race. It is a different course every year, it benefits a wonderful cause (the Salvation Army), race organization is excellent, and logistics are easy.

As an added bonus, each of the runners who are 21+ got a bracelet to receive a free beer at the New Trail brewery, located about five minutes from the race. I got a hazy IPA and Bill got an amber ale, both of which were excellent.

I would definitely do this race again. The next time, however, I will pay more attention to the race director’s emails describing the courses prior to the race.

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Natalie the Explorer for Wellness Wednesday, and Coach Debbie Runs for Coaches’ Corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

97 comments

    • I just have a watch – not a Garmin – so I don’t really know how far I’ve gone, just how long I’ve been running. The post-race beer was really good. I have to see if we can get it where we live.

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  1. LOL at not paying attention to the RD. They lie anyway. One guy at the race today told everyone at mile 5 that it was downhill from there, and I knew darn well it wasn’t — thankfully, this race is mostly the same (they did change if a couple of times since I started racing it, but just slightly).

    Congrats on your AG award! You are a tough cookie!

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  2. Oh my, it sounds really hard and incredibly challenging… yet, you will return. Awesome – I bow to you in admiration. But I do know from having my husband and sons work at some of the most gorgeous water authority property in Northern California, that it is an honor and privilege to be able to run such trails. And if a runner has a chance, grab it!

    Hooray for you and hubby πŸ‘

    Susan Grace

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  3. Congrats on the AG!! Do you find that you have a good sense of distance (without the aid of a GPS device) even on a trail (with technical terrain to navigate)? I ran a 5K last February, and had forgotten both my music source and watch…but I think I had a good sense of the mile marks regardless. Crazy, huh! The race sounds fun, especially in terms that it changes each year.

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    • I think I had a pretty good idea of where I was most of the time. We do get used to what one mile, two miles, etc. …feel like. It really is a fun race. You never know what to expect.

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  4. Congrats on your AG win Laurie πŸ˜€.

    19 Degree’s, you would of needed a crowbar to get me out of the car πŸ˜‚, I had ( chose ) to do that in high school for PE class every Friday rain, snow, windy didn’t matter out the door you went for a mile run that was timed for your grad, that was brutal for the first half mile dressed in shorts and a t-shirt.

    ❀️✌️
    BY FOR NOW

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    • Thank you, Dawn. I didn’t want to get out of the car to race. I told Bill to crank up the heater so I could be warm before the race. I would not have wanted to run that race in shorts and a T-shirt. That sounds like child abuse!

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      • Your welcome Laurie πŸ˜€.

        Well you know how it was back in the late 80’s early 90’s as long as they didn’t touch you it wasn’t child abuse, good thing for me I was pretty fast bad thing was my lungs weren’t as fast as my legs so my finesh left me on the floor for the next 15 minutes hipper ventalating.

        ❀️✌️
        BY FOR NOW

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  5. I think it was a good selfie Laurie – you both look happy and you still did well … you should be proud of yourself. It does sound like fun … fun and games as to walking are over now – they say 3-5, maybe 6 inches for us today. It is snowing like crazy right now.

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    • Thank you, Linda. I looked happy because I was laughing at our inability to take a selfie. Bill was saying “Hold the camera here. Now turn it. Hold it up higher…” Oh no! So sorry to read about the snow. Ugh!

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      • Yes, I thought it would be fun for you guys to have – I don’t know how heavy or big it is to carry around with you though. Well hopefully rain ends and no snow appears and you can squeak in another week at running club.

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      • I don’t even carry my phone with me on runs, so all of my pictures are from either before or after, but it would be pretty convenient to have in the car. No snow in southeastern PA last night. It WAS cold and windy, though!

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      • No, I don’t blame you Laurie, as too much bumping around as you are doing your run. You were lucky – your running club was able to get out then, despite the cold and windy conditions. We have had an inordinate amount of wind this Fall. I’m monitoring the leaves all around for gutter clean-up and hoping my handyman does not need to go up on the roof without it being 100% dry and free of ice/snow. He could do gutters from the perimeter, but he checks for shingles missing and checks the chimney flashing at the same time. The leaves behind me are 100% down and the leaves across the street are mostly on the trees. He generally does it around Thanksgiving.

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      • Yes, Bill and I went to running club, did 2 quick loops around the park (3.5 miles), and hightailed it off to the restaurant where we gathered for sandwiches and drinks. My handyman is Bill, so I am hoping he does not have to get up on the roof either!

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      • It’s getting to a point where you get out and get back in the house as quickly as you can – I am looking forward to those promised days in the 50s next week – hope you have the same weather. I looked again this morning – lots of leaves in the trees yet and the gutters were already frozen at the drain spouts earlier this week. I hope it gets milder – I have now 112 miles to walk and exactly six weeks to get it done!

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      • I am hoping for milder weather too. Until the following week. Then we will be in sunny, warm Arizona and I don’t care about PA weather! πŸ™‚ I was wondering how far you had to reach your goal. If the weather cooperates, you should be able to get it done.

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      • I’ll just tuck myself into your suitcase Laurie and go along – no worries about the flurries and my goal. You didn’t tell Benji yet, but he’s had you home for a while now, so he’ll adjust better. Arizona sounds just great – sun and fun! And you won’t have to spend Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen either!

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      • Haha! If you can find room in my suitcase, you are welcome to go. Bill is a firm believer in “no checked luggage”, so we travel light. My carry-on is usually stuffed to the gills! I hope Benji does OK while we are in Arizona. He doesn’t like it when we go away.

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      • Thank you but I’m too big for a carry-on. That’s a better way to travel for sure – no worries about lost luggage or standing around waiting for the carousel to bring your luggage and wasting time doing so. Well, you are staying put for a while after you return right? How are the Portuguese lessons coming along?

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      • Yes. He has brought me around to his way of thinking. Plus, it’s easier to navigate the airports and other means of transportation with a smaller suitcase. Our next trip is down to visit my sister in Florida in January. We will make several stops along the way both down and back. I just wrote about the Portuguese lessons for a post that will be published tonight. Portuguese is TOUGH!

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  6. Your aid station volunteer reminds me of a time I was passing out water at a marathon. We were at the bottom of a .6 mile windy wooded hill. One of the other water stop volunteers kept telling every runner that they had a little hill ahead. I’m sure she thought she was doing them a favor, but I was surprised someone didn’t run back down the road and club her over the head.

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    • Ha! I am surprised too!!! My husband actually gets angry at people who yell “You’re almost there!” When we’re NOT almost there. He mutters under his breath “Then YOU come out and run it for me.”

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  7. the reason why I don’t run trails – I ran my 2nd ever one (the first was up up up up up and then turn around and go flying back down), didn’t pay attention to the communication, didn’t know what to make of the map and… would have gotten lost if it hadn’t been for Ron and another friend of ours coming to search for me! I was dead last, which I normally don’t care about, but there wasn’t even the promised cup of Dutch pea soup (or anything for that matter) at the end. It was december, I was frozen, or and I had a huge blister as well. ha!

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    • Hmmm…sounds almost like my race, except for the getting lost part. The race director told us before the race it was impossible to get lost and I thought “Mm hmmm…I bet I could do it!” Sorry your race was such a bad experience!

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  8. Sounds like an adventure πŸ™‚ Good for you running the race “naked” – I get so anxious if I dont have every watch or phone for music fully charged! LOL

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  9. Congratulations, Laurie, on your impressive run results! I’ve done 5K races and enjoyed reading your descriptions as I would have similar line of thoughts when I run in a race. I smiled at the “almost done” cheer from the aid station. I’ve also done cheering for races and say that at the 500m mark. Thanks for linking up on Wellness Wednesday.

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    • Thank you, Natalie. Running is my fitness activity of choice. Saying “You’re almost done” at the 500m mark is great; saying it with 1.5 miles to go was not-so-great! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the chance to link up.

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  10. Oh my goodness. My lungs and quads are bursting as I read this and when you mentioned rocks I swear I had a little panic. Congratulations…(and I giggled at the “almost done” comment…)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh wow, that sounds like a tough course! Congrats on your second place AG finish!

    Those leaf covered trails scare me, though. I once ended up in the ER after my foot twisted as a hidden rock rolled as I stepped on it during a trail run with my husband. I was on the ground before I even realized what had happened!

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    • It was kind of a tough course, but not ridiculous, like some of the trail races I have done! πŸ™‚ I once twisted my ankle in a trail race too, but I obviously didn’t learn my lesson! πŸ™‚

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  12. I was holding my breath the whole ‘run.’ Bless your heart, all that climbing, and the rugged road. And the guy teasing you that you were almost at the end!! Kinda.
    It’s hard for me to glance at my fitness tracker while running so even though I have it on, I don’t always know how long or far I have run. One thing for sure, it is never much more than 5K. Bravo to running the distances you do.

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    • Trail races are my favorites. I really enjoyed this one. I don’t like looking at a watch when I run either. I would rather just go by how I feel. Brovo to you for getting out there and running too!

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