Sunday, February 15, 2015

Critter Crawl (Weekend Update)

Happy Monday, everyone!  If you are off for President's Day - LUCKY YOU - ENJOY!

I decided, last minute, to run a trail run Saturday morning.  I was worried about turning my ankle and being unable to run my upcoming half marathons.  But, I'd run it twice before and knew I could see where I was stepping (unlike others I've run that were overgrown with tall grass).  Major props to the race directors who painstakingly marked the worst roots and holes with bright orange paint.

The worst obstacles ended up being the gazillion balls that had fallen from the Sweet Gum trees.  If you are not familiar with these spiky balls, they do not give when stepped upon.  Some places were carpeted with them.

Lovely Boardwalk


The Critter Crawl is a true trail run on a wildlife preserve with countless ups, downs, sharp twists and turns.  You've got to watch for low hanging branches!  {Thwack!}  Some of the course is gravel, some of it is on boardwalks (my favorite) but most of it is on deep, deep mulch.  It is incredibly spongy.  


Marsh mellow mulch and just a few Sweet Gum balls


My trail pace is much, much s-l-o-w-e-r than normal.  I walked up a couple of the steepest hills in the deepest mulch because I simply wasn't going anywhere anyway!  It felt like running on marsh mellows.  Luckily, the other runners got no further ahead.




I got a nice solid workout, managed a dead-on 10:00 average pace and won Female Grand Masters.  I was actually the 4th female across the line (yes - the race was that small).  It was bright and sunny with the temperature around 38...a beautiful day.  The overall and masters awards were hand carved by the director's father.  The after party was outdoors with music, plenty of food, drinks and hot coffee.  This race attracts a lot of kids.  They also included a critter costume contest. 

Isn't my hummingbird pretty?
My friend Kim was 1st in her AG.
They gave her award to someone else. Oops.















Later in the day, I indulged in too many Valentine treats...Starbucks, peanut M&Ms, cheese straws, pizza, wine...boo for me!  I have got to get back on track.  (Or, could I have possibly call it carbo-loading for the next day?)

Sunday I ran 10 slow miles in preparation for my impending four back-to-back weekend half marathons. My knee acted a little cranky like it did in my last half.  I'm hoping it's just from too much Disney World, or the Critter Crawl, or both.

Sadly, my times are still off from last Winter...and I'll do what I can to keep working on it.  The next halves are hilly, but one of them not too terribly bad.  Between each race, I plan to run one 4 to 5 mile easy run and one short speed work session.  Sleep and foam rolling will be my absolute best friends.

That was my weekend.

Oh, I forgot to mention the usual endless laundry and grocery shopping hell.


Did anyone else race?  Have you ever stepped on a Sweet Gum ball?


I'm linking up with Tara @ Running 'N' Reading for the Weekend Update.

Please visit Tara and the other participating bloggers!


40 comments:

  1. I hate those stupid little balls! But i never knew the name of the tree they came out of. The More You Know...

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    1. They are so innocent looking...not. I had to Google to make sure I had the name correct. Yep.

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  2. Congrats on your award. Wow. You have a lot of running on tap. Jealous. It is 10 below here. Hate winter

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    1. Fly to Dixie and run with me!

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    2. Would love to. maybe next winter LOL

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    3. Would love to. maybe next winter LOL

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  3. You won my giveaway. Email me your address.

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  4. This reminds me of my very first 10K I ran. (was not a good choice for my first one...lol). i've never heard of those gum balls.

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    1. I'm not sure if those trees are all over the US or not. The balls don't crush like a pine cone does. Dangerous.

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  5. I'm pretty sure I haven't come across gum balls. I would've remembered. I think it's great the awards were handcarved, what a great idea.

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    1. It's really quite pretty. I like it when they give you something unique.

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  6. I ran my first trail race this weekend and noticed my pace was much slower than usual -- good to know I'm not weird!

    I drank way too much wine and had way to much chocolate this weekend, too. YOLO, am I right?

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    1. Just keeping my balance wears me out!. YOLO, correct. And, I have all week to make up for it.

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  7. Sounds like a really tough race but a beautiful day. Congrats on winning an award--and a really cool award at that! My dog sometimes gets those balls stuck in his paw pads. They're awful.

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    1. The hummingbird is beautiful. There is no plaque or anything written on it so I have it on display in my dining room. Poor doggie. That must hurt!

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  8. I have never even heard of that type of a tree:) The gum balls aside, looks like a really beautiful course:) I don't know anyone who can keep up a street pace on a trail run, you just have to be more careful on them, but even then sounds like you still held a great pace:) Great job on your finish and placing!!!!!

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    1. The Sweet Gum may only be in the South. Something else that is dangerous is pecans. When you step on a green pecan still in the hull...holy cow. You will roll an ankle in a heartbeat.

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  9. I have no idea what sweet gum balls are, but I kind of want to see one now, I will have to Google it! Great job on the trail run, so nice they marked some of the obstacles. and way to go with your AG place and overall place, that is what makes small races so fun.

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    1. People make crafts out of Sweet Gum balls. You need to Google it. It's almost like a tiny spiky pinecone, but it does not give or crush.

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  10. Congratulations on your race, my friend - woo hoo! That is awesome! Sweet gum balls are definitely my nemesis; I hate when we have a big rain storm overnight and then they pop up all over the place and I can't see them very well on my early morning runs - GAH! They are deadly! This trail looks amazing, though; can't say I blame you for jumping in on this one! Thanks so much for linking up with the blog again this week; hope yours is off to a great start.

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    1. Pecans are another thing that will roll an ankle, especially green ones still in their hulls. Ugh! Yes, the trail is beautiful. The preserve is a very neat place and you can fish there as well.

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  11. We have those little balls too and I had no idea what they were called! Thanks for clearing that up!! And isn't Valentine's day the time to splurge on chocolate and wine? If not then, when? ;) Have a great week!

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    1. Aren't they dangerous little suckers? True - I shouldn't feel guilty about Valentine's Day!

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  12. I am not familiar with these sweet gum balls you speak of but can imagine how brutal it could be to step on one. Looks like a fun race and you look blazing fast in that pic. Love the sweet award. Congrats!

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    1. You are lucky because they are cruel little suckers. Thanks!

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  13. No racing for me yet! Last week of recovery! Great job and congrats on your race! I worked today- no day off . I too had a few or more goodies over the weekend- can't wait to get back to running!

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    1. Enjoy that final week of recovery! I know you are ready to get back to it!

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  14. Oh my gosh, this looks like fun! I need to move somewhere warm!

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    1. I get to run in the teens this week (brrr) but that's a heat wave to you!

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  15. Don't get too caught up on times! I think the less I compare to where I used to be the faster I bounce back. That trail looks so pretty! I love when races go above and beyond to make it great!

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    1. I'm pretty good about not comparing myself to others, but it's hard not to compare your own performances!

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  16. Nice job, first place masters! I don't think we have those balls here, but we have something similar that I've rolled my ankle on. Ouch! I'm excited for all your back to back halves! :)

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    1. Thanks. I'm excited, and maybe a little nervous too. I hope my body holds up!

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  17. Great job on the race!! I love the award, very unique ") We have those gum balls too, they are very hazardous. My trail pace is always a lot slower than my street pace.
    Your plan between races sounds good. Ice your knee some in between laundry and shopping! I had that snow shopping craziness Monday here.

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    1. Thanks! Thankfully, the snow and ice didn't get this far south. It will be in the teens tonight. It looks like my first half will be a very soggy one.

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  18. Congrats on winning female masters, that's awesome. I also splurged way too much on Valentine's Day but am trying to get back to healthy eating this week.

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    1. Thank you. I have been much better this week with my eating. I'm Valentine's is not a season! Ha.

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  19. First off, congrats, congrats, congrats!!! Not only do I love the name, Critter Crawl, but it looks like a course I'd enjoy, too. My legs LOVE running on boardwalks. Deep mulch, not so much! One year a park manager decided to help out the runners in the Steamtown Marathon by putting down a thick fresh layer of mulch on the one-mile section of the course that goes through the park. They did it just a day or so before the race, and the race director didn't realize they'd done it. It's in the later portion of the race, and there we were, with wobbly legs, running through marshmallows!

    Hope your knee is feeling better!

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    1. Thanks! I love boardwalks too and it's rare to get that. I'm not sure why anyone thinks fresh mulch is a good idea. They had just mulched this trail too. So very difficult.

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