Sarah Bishop Bushwhack 10K Trail Race – September 29, 2013
When a race course brings you to the highest point in Westchester, you are pretty much guaranteed more than a few really good uphill climbs.
Touted as harder than the Leatherman, my interest was piqued. I never ran the Leatherman for one reason and another, so I figured, this would be a good way to see what I was missing.
The race field is small. Despite not starting on time, the warm sunshine and good vibe of the crowd kept us all in good spirits. Everyone seemed to know each other and were there for a good time. In other words, friendly, relaxed and laid back. My kind of crowd!
For a first time, the race was well organized. The trail was well marked for the most part. At one point I saw one of the organizers running down the road with a package of toilet paper to restock the porta potties. Now, that’s service.
With two half marathons coming up, I wasn’t interested in any turned ankles or tripping accidents. My game plan? Take it slow and steady. Just another Sunday run, through the woods enjoying the absolutely perfect fall weather we were blessed with that morning.
The course was technical, but not so much so that a novice to trail running couldn’t navigate it. Lots of rocks (big rocks, small rocks and my favorite, those that blended in with the fallen leaves), tree roots, slipy slidey mud spots and loose footing to pick through. Lots of uphills, some steep enough to slow everyone to a single file march (especially in the first couple of miles). The downhills weren’t as steep, but there were a few that required some extra care. I can bound uphill with no problem, but when it comes to descending, I tend to slow down quite a bit.
At around the halfway point, you climb uphill and are greeted by a small easy to miss sign that indicates the highest point in Westchester. We made it! Although, this does not mean the next three miles were downhills. Not at all.
At around the 4 mile mark, there is a rather wicked gradual uphill section along a road before re-entering the trail again. It is long, but completely runnable. I used it to make up some time and proceeded to pass a few people. Only for them to all catch up once we entered the trails again and I continued tripping my way through, constantly reminding myself (outloud) to pick up my feet.
The last half of the race was pretty flat and easy relatively speaking.
At one point I found myself alone. I lost sight of the pack ahead of me, and I put enough distance between the people behind me, thanks to a good uphill section I decided to run up instead of walk.
There was only a faint hint of a trail from the packs that ran through ahead of me. I was surrounded by trees and the only sound was the sound of my feet pounding along the soft dirt and leaves lining the ground. I was feeling great, and felt so free. Free from all the rumblings on my mind, free from what I needed to do, to be the rest of the day or week or month. It was just me, the trees, the leaves, the sunshine and cool fall air. It was moments like these that I run.
For whatever reason, I kept veering off course in the last mile. The people behind me started catching up, but finally, the finish was right ahead. I picked up the pace and finished feeling good and relaxed. Proud of myself for staying upright, and thankful to my ankles for holding up.
My race per my watch (my auto pause kicked in a couple of times).
A beautiful Sunday morning run through the woods.