Monday, March 7, 2016

Rocking it at Pandora's Box of Rox - Race Report

I finally ran my first Austin area trail race! The trail running and trail racing vibe is extremely different than a road race and I have missed being a part of the trail running community.  Last Saturday, I ran the half marathon at Tejas Trails aptly named "Pandora's Box of Rox." 

I rolled out of bed at 5:30am since the race started at 8am and the course did not appear to be very far.  The drive out to Reveille Peak Ranch was an easy hour long drive; thankfully the race director provided instructions for locating the ranch since my iphone told me to park along the highway and walk to my destination!  It was my first time to drive through Marble Falls and Burnet and I loved the wide open spaces -- definitely an appeal of TX!

As soon as I entered the ranch, I felt at ease.  The ranch was beautiful and the pavilion where bib and chip pick up were located was huge!  The restrooms were clean and boasted showers --- super nice.

I had plenty of time to relax in the car before the race started.  The half marathon and marathon started together and I lined up near the middle.  The first mile was very slow as we were doing a conga line through the single track.  In the last two months, my longest run was 10 miles and I knew the course was technical, so my goal was to finish without getting injured.

Obligatory selfie

I fought temptation to stop and take a picture with the cattle during the first couple of miles.  I focused on avoiding tripping on rocks or cow pies (eewww).  I resisted the urge to pass people during the first few miles and trotted along tripping but not as badly as normal.  Within the first few miles, we hit a long stretch of the trail that was comparable to running on sheets of cracked rocks; it was hard on my legs and I took it super easy.  That was the theme of the race-- go slowly and avoid falling hard since rock is not forgiving!

Around mile 6, I got brave enough to grab my camera since the conga line thinned out.  Taking pictures while running on rocks is never a good idea for me but I snapped a few and then put away my camera to avoid face planting.

Yes, we ran through that....

And kept running through the rock field

Beautiful but tougher than expected

Yes, that is the course....thankfully it was well marked!

For several miles, I ran with someone who was in town from Louisiana and that helped get my mind off the pounding of running on rocks.  When the course hit dirt paths, it remained beautiful but treacherous as rocks littered the course; I tripped and landed hard on my right hip and knee around mile 10.  My legs felt the effects of the uneven, hard rocky terrain and being severely undertrained.  I focused on picking up my feet and going slowly.  It was my slowest half marathon but I was thrilled to cross the finish line without a broken ankle.  The course name fits the course-- box of rox!

Awesome medal and swag!

After the race, I cleaned up and snapped some more pictures.

The start/finish

Posing while contemplating wading into the water

I love their unique trophies
Tejas Trails puts on a fantastic race.  The course was well marked and, though I did not stop at any aid stations, the aid station volunteers were friendly and the aid stations looked stocked with trail runners favorites.  The start/finish had a food truck plus post race snacks for runners.  I look forward to running more of their races.

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