This past Sunday I raced at Lums Pond State Park in Bear, DE for the first time ever. I knew of some people that had ran and mountain biked at Lums Pond so I kind of knew what the terrain was going to be like ahead of time – flat, non-technical, but with a few scattered rooty sections. None of these characteristics of the course played in my favor. Truthfully, I have a better chance excelling on a hilly, technical, rocky course. I wasn’t looking forward to this race at all and, honestly, I regretted even signing up for it. I only signed up for it because it was part of a series of trail races and back in January/February I was desperate for some motivation to get myself out for runs. So here I was on race morning, standing in a state park parking lot trying to find an inkling of trail serenity in a road-runner dominated field of runners (sorry, roadies).
Josh selflessly chauffeured me to Bear, DE so I was thankful to have him there to be my morning company. I picked up my bib number and race swag and got back into Josh’s truck.
The morning was chilly but warmer than usual so I was trying to figure out what I wanted to race in. I went for a warm-up with 3/4 length capris, an Altra sweatshirt, Sneakers & Spokes long sleeve, a base layer long sleeve, gloves, and my Team Altra buff. I warmed up on the road for 10 minutes than discovered a trail that ended up being the last 1/4 mile of the race course. By the end of a 15-minute warm-up, I decided I need to shed my base layer for the race. I also decided I wanted to race in shorts and ditch the gloves. Wardrobe malfunction! My Sneakers & Spokes long sleeve was so long that it covered up my spandex shorts making it appear that I wasn’t wearing shorts. DARNIT! I tried pinning the bottom of the shirt up but it was a lost cause once the race started.
The race started on time and we ran across the parking lot towards the path. We would be running one 6-7 mile clockwise loop around Lums Pond (literally, I giant pond). I navigated around some racers and I could see 2 women in front of me. I hoped to keep them in my sight, but that didn’t last long.
1.5 miles into the race I found myself pancaked on the ground. My memory fails me, but I’m assuming I tripped on a root. I had no chance to catch my fall. One second I was running, the next second I was on the ground, and one second after that I was back to running. The men behind me asked if I was ok. I said bluntly, “yes, I’m fine”, as they sprinted around me. Nothing hurt but I could see some blood on my thigh. Not exactly how I wanted to run the next 5.5 miles of the race but oh well.
The course wasn’t exactly scenic. There were a lot of little turns, some rooty sections, and very small “hills”. The “hills” were basically speed bumps that slowed racers down a little but they took about 3 seconds to get up and 2 seconds to get down. Not impressed. I had lost complete sight of the women by this point, men were passing me left & right, but I just kept chugging along. I was more focused on where I was putting my feet and less focused on catching anyone ahead of me. My elbow started to sting but everything else felt fine.
I remember crossing a 200m mini bridge which was pretty cool. I jumped over a few muddy spots to avoid soaking my Superiors. We passed through a field. Then we reached the part of the course I had ran earlier for my warm-up. I knew I was almost done. I heard Josh to the right and caught a brief glimpse of him with his phone out snapping pictures. I crossed the finish line and they handed me a medal.
I looked down at my knees for the first time since I’d fallen and both were bloody. My thigh looked like a bear scratched it up. My elbow was still stinging. I knew I needed to get my cuts cleaned up so I looped back to find Josh, told him I needed to clean my knees (which is actually when he even noticed my knees were scraped). We walked over to the ambulance parked in the lot. I asked them for some peroxide and they gave me saline water and a towel to clean myself up. I sat haphazardly on the asphalt as I cleaned up. They didn’t have any normal sized bandaids and I could tell that my right knee was still bleeding so the paramedic wrapped me up with gauze and medical wrap. Josh told the paramedics, “she runs 50ks up mountains and doesn’t fall but here she is after a 12k…”. Yes, the irony of it all.
I finished in 57:28 as the 3rd overall female and 25th overall out of 98. The course was shorter than a 12k so technically it’s not a 12k PR. I stayed for the awards ceremony and then left for the 2nd race of the day – spectating the NJ NICA race held in Alloway. It was a busy but great Sunday. I didn’t do a cool-down after the race because I spent my time with the paramedics, but I ran around the NICA course with Josh to cheer on the racers.
Would I race this again? No. The course wasn’t hilly or technical (despite the fact that I tripped on a root). I thrive on challenging trail courses. This was more so a cross country style race and those days of xc racing were over after college. I don’t have the speed to keep up with those xc-type of racers. I would rather go a little slower and be able to bomb some descents. I still have a good story to tell as I take care of my knees.
Would I go to Lums Pond again? Yes. I would like to mountain bike there because I prefer non-technical trails for mountain biking (my mtb skills are lacking). If I’m looking for a flat trail running loop and want to drive all the way there then I would run there again too. But I’m not interested in racing there. One and done!