Over the weekend I ran the Dirt Cheap Stage Race, which consists of three trail runs over the course of three days. My total time over the event was 3:33:05 which is quicker than 2017, but slower than my times from 2016 and 2015.
Stage one of the race is a short night run which is the least interesting of the events in this race. Temperatures were colder than expected, and I made the decision to continue wearing my warm-up gear during the race. By mile three I really felt overdressed, but it was probably the right decision. To keep my feet warm I wore an old pair of shoes that were clunky and didn’t have much traction. Between the footwear, the snow, and the dark it was a miracle that I remained upright through the whole race. I finished the first stage in a pedestrian 39:53.
The next morning for stage two it was still cold, but the sunlight made a world of difference. I finished the fiveish miles in 52:17 which was four minutes quicker than I was when running in similar conditions in 2017. However it was behind my pace from the other two years, and slower than I was on a near identical course earlier in the year.
My biggest problem on the second stage was my sneakers. For some reason I used the same old pair I ran the first stage in, and the age of the glue combined with the moisture of the snow lead to some of the traction falling off before the race even began. Throughout the whole race I felt the shoes crumbling beneath my feet, and half a mile from the finish I lost the sole of my left shoe completely. Despite all this, I don’t think it actually effected my race all that much. I only had to make major adjustments on a single downhill, and me getting winded on the hills had more to do with not running any trail races since September.
Sunday morning brought better weather (and proper shoes) and I put in a much better run. I finished in 2:00:55 which is ten minutes quicker than my last time on this course, and just eight seconds behind my time from 2015.
For some reason the first 4.5 miles were the trickiest part of this race for me. The race starts on the east side of the park which is relatively dry, but also very much not flat. I was walking the steeper uphills from very early on, and knowing that I wasn’t even half way done had me leaving this section a bit concerned. The next two miles of this race in the northern part of the park are mostly flat, and while I was too tired to really attack the course, I felt that I ran solid through here. The second half of the course wasn’t particularly fast, but was less worrisome and never felt slow. The trail flattens out again for the final mile, and that was easily the best mile that I ran all weekend. I felt pretty good at the finish, and in hindsight probably should have started pushing the pace a mile or two sooner.
I felt that my running got better as the weekend progressed, but now everything is covered in snow and my running is mostly done for the year. My next race will be the Buffalo Turkey Trot which I will be running for the tenth straight year.