Medal Monday: Cane Field Classic 2017

OK, it’s not exactly Monday, but it’s close enough, right? So, let’s jump right in.

I had a planned trip this past weekend to sherpa for my son at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans, so when I saw that the Cane Field Classic was the day before his race, I kind of jumped on the registration. You see, last year my friends, Susan, Erika and Kim, did this race and had such a great time, they insisted that I put this on my list for consideration in the future.

I believe it was kismet that the races were on the same weekend.

So what is the Cane Field Classic? It’s actually three races. The first is called the Sugar Mile and it’s a one mile race on a dirt path. The second race is a four mile race on trail, a little more technical and really pretty through tall sugar cane stalks. A little more technical, but nothing bad. The third, and final, race is called the Rows of Hell and is two miles through very tight, shoulder-high sugar canes. The sugar cane stalks are sharp and the dirt between the rows are rutted out and only wide enough to put one foot directly in front of the other, otherwise, your ankles are rolling in the whole time. When you complete all three races, you earn a machete!img_6906-1

Packet pickup was pretty standard. A bib and a shirt. The shirt was a super soft cotton that came in a variety of colors. I chose the blue shirt and Sean chose a red one. The car dealership gave out reusable water bottles and made sure there was plenty of water for all of the runners each time we went through the start/finish line.

img_6834Because they are three back-to-back races, I was worried about maintaining a pace that would allow me to finish in time to start the next race. I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem. Come to find out, the group didn’t start the next race until the last finisher came in from the previous race! It was such a great experience to see all of the runners, including the fasties, cheering on every single finisher. This was truly more of party than a competitive race, which was evidenced by the fact that the kegs were tapped before the first race began. LOL We received a dog tag at the finish line of the last race, and then turned in our wristband for the customized machete.

img_6830The post-race party was a blast! They had jambalaya being made while we ran, so there was delicious food to be washed down by the beer. The weather was actually really good Saturday morning and didn’t rain, as had been predicted a few days earlier. I understood why they recommend a pair of long pants for the last race. My legs were torn up a little bit and stung like crazy. Note to self: seriously, wear pants. On the plus side, I did put on a pair of knee-high compression socks that morning. Despite the fact that I thought I looked a little dorky, they were a godsend out there because the tall grass squick me out. 

Verdict: I had a great time! The Rows of Hell was truly the hardest 15 minute miles I have ever run, but it’s hard not to laugh and sing the whole way with the rest of the runners. I would totally do this race again if I find myself in Baton Rouge on race weekend. I met some great people out there and decided that I *might* need to buy a pair of trail shoes soon. Uh oh! I hear some dirt calling!img_6844



Dirt in My Skirt: My First Trail Race

“It will be fun,” they said. “You will love it,” Vishal said. This began my foray into trail running. Oh, and the promise of dessert.

Where is my cake? I was promised cake!

Where is my cake? I was promised cake!

Marcy and I decided smartly to begin with a 25K for our first race because, if I had to hear that a 50K was only five more miles than the marathon, I would probably punch someone. The last marathon I ran was traumatic. It was too hot with humidity over 95% and I made every mistake I could have possibly attempted that day. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I know people. 😉

imageMarcy and I, along with hubby and son all signed up for the Millican Trails 25K in College Station, along with a small handful of friends who signed up to do the 10K. I asked probably more questions than I was allowed of some very experienced trail runners and made a list of the trail shoes I would need to get and the best hydration packs. I must have researched the stuff I would need for weeks. I had no idea how to train for running a race on trails. Vishal told Marcy and me to just keep up my base miles on the road and get time on our feet for the trails. Oh, and quit looking at the Garmin.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature dealt us some of the rainiest, coldest, iciest weather in Dallas that I can remember in recent years. I’m no stranger to running in whatever Mom throws at us, but apparently the trails close completely in that kind of weather. So, from December through the first weekend in March, the nearby trails were open a total of four weekends and I had the flu for two of those weeks. I silently thanked our wisdom of choosing to only run the 25K for the first trail race.

To add a wrench to the whole weekend of crazy, Alex (the kiddo), had a track meet Friday night at University of Texas in Arlington. No worries, right? I’ll just send Marcy to College Station early and have her pick up our race packets and we will meet everyone late Friday night. After doing well at the 2 Mile on Friday evening, we made the three hour trek to BCS, arriving after midnight to the hotel. Passing out really is the only way to describe what happened, because 5am was going to come pretty quickly.

Seriously, a beautiful pink sunrise with great friends is the best way to spend a Saturday morning.

Seriously, a beautiful pink sunrise with great friends is the best way to spend a Saturday morning.

Yep, 5am came really fast, but we were all awarded with one of the most stunning pink sunrises out there. Mother Nature threw us a bone after the atrocious winter and the temperature was beyond perfect with no hint of rain. Marcy and I set off and the first 1K was more of a cross-country style run through tall grass. By mile 2, I was pretty proud of myself for staying relatively dry as we crossed the creek beds. I was rewarded with stepping into ankle-high mud with both feet. This could be a long day, but I was proud of myself for packing an extra pair of socks in my hydration pack just in case. We made our way through the first six miles or so enjoying the scenery and talking with everyone else out there. imageThat is definitely a difference between road running and trail running – camaraderie. As we approached a bunch of old cow bones, we just had to take our picture, so two girls offered to help. We laid on the ground to take the picture and texted everyone that the trail was going to kill us. The first aid stop was about 7 miles in and had real food! That alone is enough to give up road racing. Cookies and M&Ms and pickles, oh my! By the way, I discovered that pickles taste awesome seven miles in…

My yellow flower from #fellowflowers for this race with a best friend.

My yellow flower from #fellowflowers for this race with a best friend.

After thanking the volunteers, we took off again. Most of the race was spent just walking because the trail was extremely technical with lots of tree stumps about an inch and a half high, roots, twists, turns and elevation changes. The most exciting elevation change was a steep descent into a creek bed followed by the equal and opposite reaction that had to include a rope to the base of a tree at the top to help get up to the top. There were a few f*bombs dropped as everyone approached this point in the race. All Marcy and I could do was laugh and go for it. It was a BLAST!!!

We made it to the next aid station about mile 13 and I ate a quarter of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – just what I needed. The last two miles were around a small lake, so we had to take a quick picture before we got back to the finish, where Marcy’s boyfriend, my hubby, Alex and our other friends were waiting and cheering us on. By the time it was over, I had dirt in my skirt and I had sanded off part of my pedicure.

imageVerdict? We have fallen in love with trails and can’t wait to sign up for another race. It was wonderful to not care what the pace was on our Garmin or where we were in our age group. Nothing mattered but being out there to enjoy the day. Oh, and cupcakes. Seriously. I was promised cake.

imageAlthough “fast” is not usually part of my world, my boy did awesome with a 2:17 finish (first in his age group) on his first trail race and only the second time he had ever run on a trail. I, on the other hand, finished with a smile on my face. And in the end, is there any other way to finish a race?