Pineland Farms Trail Challenge - RR

I think I hate grass.

Not really, of course, but after finishing the Pineland Farms Trails Challenge this past weekend, I can honestly say that grass is incredibly hard to run on! It is vampirical in its ability to suck the life out of your legs. However, I am forced to admit that enormous open fields full of grass and dandelions are damned gorgeous. Stunning in their simplistic beauty.

The Pineland Farms Trail Challenge is a superbly run race. The course was well marked, the aid stations were many and the goodies were plentiful. The volunteers were second to none - incredibly helpful and upbeat, even while they stood in the blistering sun and heat for hours on end. The post-race festivities came complete with a BBQ, beer and some of the best tasting gelato ever to pass through my lips (hell, after 31 miles, even a dixie cup would have tasted like manna from heaven). And, to top it all off, I got a great T- shirt and a silver cowbell!

But what about my actual race, you ask? Eh.

Going into the race, I had thought to finish it in a little over 6 hours. In reality, it took me closer to 8. SLOWER than the LI Greenbelt Trail run. How this is possible, when the trails were wide and clear, and there were no horrendous climbs, I don't know. But that's how it all panned out. Granted, it's been ages since I did something even remotely close to being considered training. Additionally, I chose to hang back and run most of the race with a lovely runner from Georgia. But it was still a pitifully slow time.

It was by no means an easy course. Very deceptive - the trails are so smooth, they're road-like. But there was something about the constant hills, rolling up and down and up again, that was far more brutal than the psychotic rock scrambles I was confronted with at Bear Mountain. In the other trail races I've run (and admittedly, they're few), the time I lost climbing up was often balanced by long descents where I could let loose and fly downhill like a little kid. There were no such flights of fancy at Pinelands. On Sunday, it was more a matter of the hills I could slowly run up and the hills I chose to walk. When I was lucky, those hills had a corresponding down. But more often than not, it was just a small dip and then I was back on an uphill. Small, slight, but an uphill none the less.

In retrospect, I think I just took it too easily. I started off at a conservative pace, mindful of everyone's warnings about the hills and the fields, and then I just got slower and slower and slower. Gleefully meandering through the woods and across the fields of grass is great way to spend the day, but a poor way to race. While I know I'm capable of a better showing, I failed to bring it to the event. Somewhere along the way, I seem to have lost the ability to really push myself....instead falling into the trap of approaching everything as simply a new avenue of enjoyment and entertainment.

And enjoy myself, I did. But at some point I have to grab hold again and really perform - if for no other reason than to have a better selection of goodies at the post-race festivities!


  1. nothing wrong with enjoying a nice trail run every once in a while :)

    The hills were unrelenting and tiring mentally. You did good :)

  2. great job staci!!

    i agree w/you and meredith about the course being tougher than greenbelt. constant hills, no time for recovery between the ups and downs.

    so you getting up early for the 5 miler next week?

  3. good finish, staci! just getting through those fields with the baking sun was tough.... although i think greenbelt was tougher on my toenails!

    TNF race in DC sounds interesting, but i couldn't find anything about the course on their site. any info on that? loops, out-and back, etc.?

  4. Jim - Greenbelt was definitely more of a toenail menace :)

    As for TNF DC, Meri has assured me that it's not a tough course. It just smells like poop.


  5. That is true. The course itself is not very technical. A couple small climbs. One section, that we passed twice, about 1.5 miles long, was very rocky/bouldery, but the rest was very runnable. About 25 miles smells like sewage. It was so very hot when i ran the race and unfortunately, the water you run along had big warning signs not to touch it :(

  6. Hmmm, smells like sewage...I have enough trouble with nausea after a few hours in the heat....

    Thanks for the info, folks.


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