The 4th and final race in the 2012 FORGE Trail Series took place on Saturday October 13th, and it was a beautiful day for a race. The Battlefield 10K was held at the Port Hudson state historic site just north of Baton Rouge. I got a later start than I’d hoped, but arrived a bit before sunrise to help with setup ahead of the 8:30 start. My two daughters were to run the Kidz one mile race, and defend their titles as 1st and 3rd place girl finishers from last year.
My youngest was initially determined to run the entire course on her own, but shortly before the start, she decided that she wanted daddy with her as she ran. We got some last minute race instructions about ghosts and R.O.U.S.’s (you know, Rodents of Unusual Size), lined up, and the firing of two muskets signaled the start. My 9 year old took off and it wasn’t long before I lost sight of her while hanging back with my soon to be 6 year old. She ran over half a mile non-stop before we hit a hill and she needed to walk a bit. From then on, we ran the flats and walked the hills. It really was a fun way to warm up for my race and see those little legs churning as we ran through the woods on the trails. Soon enough we popped out of the woods and headed toward the finish. She ran that 1.15 mile course in 14:10, good enough for 3rd place girl. And my oldest finished 1st in 11:32. Talk about a proud dad!
After the last kid finished, the rest of us lined up for the 10K. We were off with a loop around the battlefield before heading into the woods.
The first mile plus was flat, and my pace was just under 6:30 as I hung back a bit. We then hit a few hills which slowed the pace some as we had to climb a bit, and I was feeling that first fast mile, and by the second mile split, I had slowed to a 7:15 pace. But that would get even slower in the next mile. There was a treacherous section, aptly named Certain Death at a turnaround point. The trail narrowed to a thread, with a big dropoff to the right and tough downhill footing over rocks and a downed tree. We then had to scramble back up a makeshift trail back to the main trail and head back towards the big loop. This was my slowest mile at 7:53.
After heading back to the main trail, I was able to pick the pace back up and settle in for a 6:50 mile on a relatively flat section. By this point, I was able to pass several people and the lead female and I played leapfrog a bit from midway through the 4th mile until the end of the race. The 5th mile featured a lot of uphill sections that slowed me down a good bit and had my lungs screaming as I was determined not to get passed at such a late point in the race. But I felt good going up those hills and concentrated on my breathing, which really seems to help me in that stage of a tough run. I tend to naturally revert to short shallow breaths, and by focusing on slow deep breaths, I’m able to ignore some of the pain of the uphills and gain ground. After what seemed like an eternity of uphill sections, we finally made it to the familiar section I had run during the Kidz mile, so I knew the end was near. We broke out from the woods, and I sprinted to the finish in a time of 41:03, good enough for 7th overall and 1st place in my age group. The course was a bit short, at 5.8 miles, but that’s to be expected in a trail race, and I was very happy with my average pace of 7:05 on a hilly trail.
It really is amazing how many runners, especially trail runners, are also craft beer fans. One of them brought a 5 gallon keg of homebrewed ESB, which we made short work of. There were no fewer than 9 runners there that also homebrew, and it we had a great discussion about what we are brewing, what we are drinking, and our future homebrew plans. The age group winners all took home a plaque as well as a six pack of Bayou Teche Biere Pale, a locally brewed pale ale.
Official results are here.
It was a great day for a race and a fantastic setting. Thanks to Jeff Beck for putting it on and all the volunteers and sponsors that made it happen. This was truly a race for “running trails and drinking ales!”