58. Make My Day 12K, 2011

Brian at the Charleston Marathon, 2011

I’ve run quite a few races, so it’s not often that I get to do something for the very first time. This one was held in Harbison State Forest, and it was my very first trail run… ever. I’ve run through the woods, but it was always on flat ground. This one was an actual trail, with tree roots and everything.

Once again, Cara went with me, and once again it was a work day for her. 12K comes out to 7.46 miles, which is at her top-end, but we figured that we would be okay since she didn’t have to be at work until 11:30am. At least, that was the idea.

About the Course

The race took place in Harbison State Forest, here in Columbia, SC. It’s a beautiful place, but the terrain is a bit rougher than I’m used to. I really had to watch my feet to keep from tripping over roots, rocks or just dips in the ground. This is probably normal for trail running, but for me it was new. I had several close calls, but I only I fell to the ground once. After that, I learned to keep a better watch on my feet and I was able to enjoy the race.

My only regret about the site was that we didn’t park close enough. We weren’t sure how crowded it would be, so we parked near the entrance and walked for maybe ten minutes to the race site. The idea was to avoid the post-race congestion that sometimes happens when everyone is trying to leave. Looking back, that was a mistake. We could have easily parked closer and driven out with no trouble. It was a smaller event with plenty of room for everyone.

The Race Itself

I surged ahead in the beginning, planning to wait for Cara at the end. After a quarter-mile, I realized that we were in for a rough time. The terrain was all over the place. Wide, flat paths quickly became choppy single trails, which then became a small bridge over a ditch before widening again. My time in this race would not resemble a time from a 12K on flat ground. It was going to take longer, and it would be harder. That was bad news for Cara. 12K is pretty far for her, and she had to work afterward.

I met lots of nice folks along the way, but I noticed far less chatter than in other races. I think it was because we were all watching our feet. Shortly after my wipe-out I slipped again and twisted my foot. I pressed on, and the pain faded after a few seconds. After that, I was much more careful. If I paid close attention, I could make time and stay safe.

Going Back for Cara

After I finished, I chatted with a few runners, got a bottle of water and headed back up the trail to find Cara. I found her after a few minutes, making sluggish progress up a hill. She had twisted her foot as well, so she wasn’t inclined to hurry. I gave her the water and we headed for the Finish Line together. Then she twisted her ankle. Yeah. The one on the other leg.

Finishing the Race

She followed a run/walk/hobble/complain pattern to the end, and I ran ahead to get video of her big finish. It’s at the end of the YouTube video below. Some of the spoken bits are clipped or just not loud enough, so here’s what was said:

MAN AHEAD OF CARA: Well, I got lost for 30 minutes. That was fun.
BRIAN: (As Cara Finishes) Yay! You look so happy.
CARA: Shut up.

Our times weren’t so bad, really. Half Moon outfitters hasn’t posted the official results yet, but here are my measurements. My time comes from my Garmin watch. Cara’s time comes from time stamps and a little math. (I have a photo with the clock in it, and the video of her finishing the race.)

  • Brian – Gun Time: 1:09:42
  • Cara – Chip Time: 1:35:55

Final Thoughts

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone who loves the outdoors. The forest is beautiful and we really got lucky with the weather. (I started with a light jacket and just tied it around my waist when I warmed up.) As long as you’re careful to watch your feet on the trail, you can have a great time while making time.

Vids and Pics

Here you go: YouTube, Flickr and Garmin information. Enjoy!