Race Report: Hocking Hills Indian Run 10K

I did it! My first ever trail run. And WOW. Running 6.2 miles on trails is a whole hell of a lot different than running 6.2 miles on the road or a flat paved trail through town.

The great thing about the race is the rolling starts. Racers could start the 5K, 10K, 20K, or 40K at any time between 9am and 11am. Once there were enough folks to start a wave, they would count you off and send you on your way. 20K and greater started from the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge. 5K and 10K runners were bussed out to their respective starts. Hubs, Betsy and I arrived at the lodge around 8:45am, and the place was absolutely packed. It was really cool to see so many people that were going to race.

I wandered in and picked up my race shirt, my number and my D-tag. Evidently someone had given all the volunteers a very strict talking to about the use of the D-tags on runners shoes. Ever single volunteer associated with the race gave you a reminder about how you use the D-tag. Maybe it's just a bigger deal in this type of environment because there is more of a chance you could destroy your tag out on the trail?? I was ready to go, so I found a line for the bus, chatted with some folks in line, and got the butterflies in my tummy in check.

The anticipation was heightened due to the bus ride out to the start. It was just pretty cool/funny/kind of scary to have to ride a bus about 15 minutes out to get to the start line. First stop, 5K runners. Next stop, 10K. We started in the Top o' the Cave Campground. No real start line, no muss, no fuss. A very nice older lady was seated at a picnic table, she wrote down our numbers and counted us down. 3...2...1...GO! And off we went.

I have never had a bigger smile on my face for the first leg of a race. After a short .1-.2 mile stretch on the campground road, a bright orange arrow pointed us into the woods on a wide, grass covered path. It was tempting to haul butt, as the terrain was downhill and fairly smooth. I took advantage of the downhill but tried to keep as much gas in the tank as possible. It was absolutely beautiful.

Today's race made me uber glad that I've ditched the iPod for most of my runs. Here, it was a dual purpose thankfulness. First, the sound of the woods was fantastic. The crunching of leaves, the babbling of the water, the rustling in the trees - just beautiful. Second, there were some A-MAZING athletes out on this run, and they came up on your ass FAST. Out of nowhere, 2-3 dudes would just come pounding up behind you flying down the trail. It was actually crazy cool to see. How they do it, I have no idea.

So, back to my race. The smile started to wear off when I needed to pant pant pant my way up some killer hills. Like hills so steep that if you leaned forward by about 6 inches, you could easily touch the ground in front of you with no problem. These had to be some 15% grades. Crazy. Luckily, it's totally acceptable to walk up hills in trail runs. So I did. A few times.

With each uphill there was eventually a downhill to balance it out. The downhills were like roller coasters. Dodging the roots, attempting to find flat ground to place your foot, just crazy. I've never done anything like it. The other crazy thing was that I had no idea how far I had gone or how far I had to go. I ran with my cheapy Target watch and had started the timer when we set off, so I was trying to gauge how far I had gone based on about a 10 minute mile. Truth be told, I think my first 2-3 miles were well below 10 minutes per mile. It was miles 4-6 that got a little tricky.

We ran through the Old Man's Cave campground, and lots of campers were making breakfast or hanging out at their campsites. Folks had set up chairs along the road and cheered us on. Considering that the road through the campground was uphill nearly the whole way, having lots of people watching was very helpful. I didn't want to take a walk break in front of spectators!!! We finally made it out of the campground and back into the woods.

This last forest jaunt was also gorgeous. There were a couple crazy uphills, then all of a sudden we were rounding a small brick building in the woods. Then....stairs. STAIRS?? Luckily there were only about 15 or so steps up, and we were told by a couple friendly volunteers "You only have less than a mile left!!!" What they failed to mention is that the last stretch was a grueling gradual uphill. Not used to running uphill this often, my leggies were just about done. I swear - that last 10 minutes seemed like an hour.

I finally saw it - a little sign that said FINISH with an arrow pointing to the left. Here it was - the last FLAT portion. The chute seemed like it was half a mile long, though I am sure it was less than a tenth of a mile. I apologize to any spectators or other runners who I offended as I muttered "F&*$" about 20 times in quick succession as I sprinted it out. I even saw Hubs and the dog at the start of the chute "GO MICHELLE!!!!" the Hubs yelled out. YAY!!!!

Finally, the finish. I was done. 1:08:47. About 11 mins per mile. My personal goal was to finish in 1:15, so I am very happy with my time.

All in all, excellent experience. Well marked route, lots of volunteers, lots of different types of runners. One of the highlights was the finisher's medal - a ceramic arrowhead on a twine necklace with beads - it was made by the local high school's ceramics class! Very snazzy.

I'd like to make this race an annual event - maybe I'll even do the 20K next time around ;-)


Connie Vaughn said...

Have I told you lately how proud I am of you?? You are one awesome lady!!

T said...

Wow, congrats on the great race and strong finish!! I'm impressed!

I don't really get why people can't figure out how to apply a D-Tag, but typically at least half the runners I see here in New York have it on wrong. I volunteered handing them out for a race a few weeks ago, and they said that you may still get your results if it's on wrong, but that it messes up their system (I don't understand why that would be, but...).

Big Daddy Diesel said...


M said...


T, the funny thing was that the two "demo' tags they had on shoes at the registration booth were both the perfect example of how NOT to wear a D tag on your shoe. Craziness.