Paleozoic Trail Runs – Devonian Spring II 25K Race Report
When: March 18, 2023
Where: Willow Springs, Illinois
Finish Time: 2:44:53
Finish Place: 20th overall, 4th in Age Group M50-59
Results Link: RunRace Devonian Spring II 2023 Results
I ran this race last year in rainy and muddy conditions and it didn’t deter me from signing up for it this year for some reason. This year has to be better, right? Nope. 11 degrees F. at the start with a feels-like temperature of -2. That’s because it was super windy too! Fun times. At least it wasn’t muddy. Nice and firm frozen ground, which I would become very acquainted with later on.
I got there early enough to see my crazy ultrarunning friend Jodi start the 50K race an hour before my race started. I picked up my race packet and sat in the warm car for an hour. I had brought lots of clothing options and I really thought that I was going to have to run in my coat. But after seeing what some others were opting for, I also went a more minimal route – three long-sleeved shirts, the race shirt over that, two layers of gloves, a balaclava with a visor and another hat on top of it, and a new windbreaker jacket I bought last week. I also wore my warmest running pants which might not have been necessary, and to add to that, the elastic wasn’t as strong as it used to be. I slowed several times to pull them up, but eventually stopped and tied the drawstring in a knot. Anyway, I was pretty comfortable and maybe a little too warm.
I walked over to the start about 5 minutes before and took a look around at the competition. The race director gave us some last-minute info and the countdown was on, but no one was anywhere near the start gate. As he declared go, I was the first to bolt through it and off to the races!
I’m in first place! I had a smart pre-race plan of pacing slowly and not starting out too fast. Race day adrenaline took over and it wasn’t long before my labored breathing was forcing me to slow down. Being in first place in any race is kinda fun, but I would much rather pass people (encouraging!) than be passed (discouraging!). By a quarter-mile into it, a young lady joined me and we paced together until about a mile into it, when we got to a hill and I slowed and she didn’t. She would finish in 2nd overall. I had no business pacing with her. Another guy passed and I was now in third.
I kept up the count every time someone passed me, and I would tell them “you are now in 4th! or 5th or 6th, etc. I quit telling them after I dropped out of the top 10, which was about 4-5 miles into the race.
I was starting to sense that something was wrong with the way I was feeling. I felt like I was running on fumes and might be in for a slog. Thankfully, I brought along some gels to help get me through some rough spots.
I got to the turn-around of this out-and-back race and was feeling pretty happy about my time at that point. My split was an hour and twelve minutes for 7.75 miles and I was turning for home. But right about a half-mile later I came to a dead stop, tripping on some damn root or stone and falling to the ground with a thud. Since I have started running trails I have been falling, and I was super cognizant of that today, but it didn’t matter. The bill of my visor struck the ground causing my glasses to be forced into my nose causing a cut. I had the wind knocked out of me, yet that didn’t stop me from unleashing a string of curse words that had the forest creatures running. I was also seeing some stars after getting to my feet. That’s a new one. A few kind runners took time to stop and take stock of my dumb ass and offer assistance. One asked if I wanted her to walk me back to the turn-around for help and I initially said yes. Then I said no. I could walk, nothing seemed broken, and I felt like I could probably press on. And press on I did, albeit much, much, slower.
The rest of the way was a combination of running the flat sections and walking up and down hills and just moving forward. I was starting to get foot cramps and I was starting to think I was very dehydrated. I had water and I was drinking it, but I don’t think it was enough. I didn’t feel like I had been sweating all that much, but my wife Kari said my clothes were soaked when I got home.
I got to the finish and was glad it was over. One volunteer asked if I was okay, and I said no. I was mad at myself, but it was nice of him to ask. The race director asked how old I was and then said I had just missed the age group award. I kind of figured that out. It was actually a relief because it meant I didn’t have to hang around for any awards.
I walked back to the car and sent Kari this picture:
I sent “I’m all done with my 25K!”
Kari replied “Why are you bleeding!!”
Me: “The ground might have had something to do with it.”
Her: “I can’t let you out of the house!!”
I was a little concerned that my calves would cramp up on the 20-minute drive home, so I got out and walked around a little bit. I went into the toilet and peed some pretty dark urine, which was all the indication I needed that I was pretty dehydrated. I grabbed a nearly frozen Coke from the finish line and started drinking it. It turned me around pretty quickly and I drove home with no issues.
So there you have it, falling at trail races seems to be a thing for me. It’s a good thing that I only have three more on the calendar this year.