I had heard great things about the only night trail race around, the Moonshiner Madness 5k at Paris Mtn. I wanted to do it cause (1) it's a trail race, (2) it's at night- how often do you run night races, and (3) top 3 finishers win shoes. However, I have felt terrible all month, and today was worst of all. So I was going to run my hardest but fully expected to feel like crap and get the turd kicked out of me.
I changed at GE and ran a mile, then drove to Barry's house and met Aaron. We ran 1.5 miles into the park, dallied around (including running into Deborah and David Nigh, who I spent an hour talking to at the airport in June when my flight was cancelled, fellow commiserators), then lined up with a large field of 300 other competitors. It was a downhill start on road for .25 mile and Aaron had warned me to go fast so I wouldn't get caught on the singletrack. Well, I started hard and found myself alone in the lead within a minute. I had a 5+ second lead by the time we hit the trail. This was not expected but was very welcome, as I dislike running behind people on trails (especially rooty/rocky trails at night), plus didn't have glare and shadows from other headlamps near me. We had another road stretch up the mountain where I hit the 1 mile mark in 6:19. It was 85 deg so I was sweating nicely and breathing hard, but I felt strong and wasn't straining or pushing. I felt great and was thoroughly enjoying the run.
Just before 1.5 miles, we turn onto singletrack for the remainder of the race. I estimated I had a 20 second lead on the chase pack, and was surprised no one had closed on me. Once on the singletrack, every ounce of energy was spent concentrating on running hard and not tripping or flying off a turn. Even though I know these trails very well, running fast at night is very difficult. I loved it! Mile 2 flew by in 6:37 with lots of twists and bumps, dodging rocks, roots, and low branches. Every race should be like this- fun and crazy, with more than a hint of danger. I never saw any lights gaining on me (can't really look when running hard on trail) and finished in 18:46, with 6:42 pace for the last .9 miles, including a nice uphill at the end). Aaron surprised himself by finishing 2nd place a minute back, and then it was a steady stream of people for the next hour. I was very happy with the win and that I felt good and fast for the first time in a full month- hopefully it portends well for next week. Results here.
Cooled down some, then had the awards. Won a cool disco ball in a jar plus... 750 ml of real moonshine, plus Native sunglasses! 2nd and 3rd place got shoes, but the winners got alcohol and sunglasses. Wasn't what I expected, but can't complain. Did a short interview, then ran 1.5 miles back to Barry's with Aaron. Arrived home at 10 pm- long day.
I highly recommend the Moonshiner to anyone around Greenville. Half Moon Outfitters puts on great races with TONS of swag (shirts and socks for all) and lots of door prizes and awards. Plus it's a trail 5k at night- how cool is that?!? Good times.
Now I've got to drag myself away from watching Cody and company at the Bear to get some needed rest.