TARC Fall Classic Trail Race Recap

The weekend before last I had the joy of running the TARC Fall Classic trail half marathon. I love the TARC runners (TARC stands for Trail Animal Running Club) and the Fall Classic. Imagine running with a bunch of people who are really laid-back and focused on the fun of running and supporting each other.

 

Absolutely gorgeous morning for a race, right? Here, runners amassing behind the barn for the pre-race meeting.

Absolutely gorgeous morning for a race, right? Here, runners amassing behind the barn for the pre-race meeting.

There are several races in the Fall Classic: 10k, half marathon, full marathon, and ultra (50k, or about 31 miles). This year, I’d hoped to run the ultra that day (50k) but realized, about a month before the race, that it wasn’t the best idea for me. So I ran the half instead, with the goal of beating last year’s time. You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard, since last year I ran it as a fun run with some friends, but my training really flagged once I gave up the plan of doing the ultra, and my Achilles is sill a little tender.

 

Beautiful fall woods

Beautiful fall woods + random hound

In my favor, I’d be running with a friend who’d raced a very fast half marathon the previous week. I thought maybe I’d stay ahead of him and feel fast and powerful.

Ha! Have I mentioned my occasional ego smackdowns? As it turned out, I barely kept up with him…and not even for the whole race.

But also in my favor, I was powered with PerfectFuel chocolate (more on this in another post!) I ran the first 11 miles at a pretty lively pace; then I slowed down immensely. My friend left me on a hill, as did a woman I’d been trying (and unable) to pass for three miles, and I slogged along alone for the rest of the race.

happydownhill

I’m not ashamed to admit I limped up that little hill and when I saw the photographer on the other side, I ran down it, smiling. It’s true.

It was nice, actually — I was finally all alone in the early-autumn woods, losing myself in the patterns of the yellow leaves…which covered one particular rock, on which I tripped and sailed, Superman-style, landing face-down on the trail.

Oof.

“Down!” I yelled, to no one in particular. After a moment I got up. “Up!” I shouted, even though there was no one else in sight. I had dirt inside my bellybutton. But I wasn’t injured, and I was, in fact, giggling, because everyone trips at some point on a trail run, and I kept on running, and I finished the race ten minutes faster than I had the previous year….

to finish

Out of the woods, the final stretch around the field toward the finish line. Who’s so happy about that last tenth of a mile?

…which made me first in my age group and fourth woman overall (1:56, if you must know– slower than my road half marathon times, but not terrible). Not bad at all, really. It’s nice when all the faster women run other races, so that I have a chance of placing!

And then there was this:

one of four food tables

one of four food tables

The famous post-race/aid station. Four tables heaping with food (I mean, HEAPING). I went for the boiled potatoes dipped in salt, but there was plenty more to choose from.

I’ll be back next year, if not for the ultra then for the half again.

Thanks for another great Fall Classic, Trail Animals!

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