Saturday, September 19th marked the 5th Annual Horseshoe Challenge, a 10K and 20K race in Driggs, Idaho. Because I had decided to participate on Wednesday night, I had no time to “train” for my first competitive run ever.
I’m not a person that “loves” to run. I appreciate it for its simplicity and efficiently. A pair of shoes is remarkably little gear compared to the majority of my athletic endeavors and just 30 minutes can be enough to get your heart rate up and feel as if you accomplished some sort of exercise. I think that’s brilliant, but the activity itself is, well, boring. One foot in front of the next, plod, plod, plod. Despite this, I was interested to try it in a competitive environment and spend time with the women that invited me along, so I signed up.
The $25 registration fee went towards Teton Valley Trails and Pathways and what they called a “trail 10K” proved to be 7.5 miles instead of the standard 6.2. It was well-marked with a water station between the two significant hills. With sections of steep single-track, I truly enjoyed exploring an area I would have never ventured into on my own and although I was running without others in sight, I felt comfortable enough with the amount traffic to wear my iPod. But between tracks, I heard a steady rustling quite close and ripped my ear buds out while I spun around for the approaching moose, elk or deer. Seeing nothing, I started running again only for the rustling to also resume. It was the number pinned to the front of my shirt. Oops.
Other then the dangerous rustling sounds, the lack of anxiety over “which way is the car” was fantastic and the last two miles of downhill opened up some fantastic Teton views. They were so fantastic that I forgot to look where I was running and tripped over a menacing 1/2″ rock.
This wasn’t a slow “oh no I’m falling” type of fall. It was a “how the hell did I end up on the ground?” fall from which I jumped up and examined myself for signs that I had fallen more than signs of injury. Quickly dusting myself off, I realized that I had not only skinned both knees but my right shoulder as well. I’d gone down hard. As another runner passed me, I muttered something about “watch out for the killer rock” to which he asked if I was okay. “Just my pride, just my pride” was my sheepish response.
When my friend (who happened to place second overall) saw me approaching the finish, she jogged out to cross the line with me and my first comment was “I tripped- can you tell?”. She made sure I was okay and we laughed a little before I attacked the delicious table of yummy treats and water. The organizers waited for everyone to finish and started drawing entry forms for some pretty sweet raffle prizes. I won a Patagonia Capilne shirt right before a hornet stung my forearm.
Driving away from the trail head, I had dried blood on my knees, right shoulder and my left forearm was mottled with red and swelling considerably. But I don’t think it will be my last 10K.