Yesterday I FINALLY ran my first Trail Race, The Summer Solstice Trail Race put on by The Hartford Marathon Foundation. Many of you know that in the past years I have found much more pleasure running in the woods than on the road. Not only does it feel better on my body, but it adds an enjoyment to my running. I have never enjoyed running on the road, but I did it because it was something that got me into great shape. The minute I discovered trail running I fell in love. The woods have always been my comfort, and the workout I found in the trails was unlike any other. Constantly having to be aware, find the right lines, jump over obstacles, and be surrounded by mother nature and sometimes NOTHING else became my passion.


Taking the next step to enter a trail race was nerve racking. I had no idea what my pace should be, and those who run the trails know how difficult it is. A 5 mile trail run can easily feel comparable to a 10 mile road run. The constant inclines and declines mixed with logs, rocks, bridges, etc make finding an average pace nearly impossible. I had no idea what trail etiquette was, and no idea how I would do. My husband who used to run X-Country in High School told me one piece of advice: “start up front and run as hard as you can to get into the trail up front. You don’t want to be stuck behind someone slower”.

This is what I did. I started in the front of the pack, and ran the first .5 miles on the road at a fast pace. When I entered the woods I knew I had 3 girls in front of me. One was a girl I had seen in the beginning and I knew she was a runner! She just looked like one. I decided to try to pace with her, even though deep down I thought we were in different leagues (those who know me, know I have a hard time seeing myself as a “runner”) About .5 miles into the woods I passed the girl in 3rd, which I knew put me in 3rd place. At this point I knew the first place girl was way ahead, she ended up doing a 6:50 pace, beating the course record by 7 minutes. I just had the goal of placing top 3 at this point. The next 3 miles was spent trying to stay with the RUNNER (who was SO strong) and in front of the girl I had passed (I could hear her behind me) This had to have been the toughest 3 miles I have run in a LONG time…mentally and physically. I decided not to wear my Garmin because I was truly using this race as a training race. I just wanted to get a feel for the race environment, and didn’t want to worry about pace. So, I had NO IDEA how far we had to go, and I had several moments when I felt like I had to dial back….however, I kept saying to myself “your head will give up before your body will”. So, I just tried to stay with the girl in 2nd. I was literally right behind her the whole time, at times by her side and at least once ahead. However, in the end she was just a stronger runner. We hit the last hill and she pulled ahead a bit, and I just couldn’t catch her. She finished 4 seconds ahead of me, and she earned every second of it.


Courtesy of

When the race was over my first thought was to find this girl and thank her for pushing me. Just then, I turn around and she is standing right next to me. Little did I know she was looking for ME to thank ME! At one of the FEW times I was ahead, she read the back of my mission FITNESS shirt, “perhaps you are stronger than you think”. Apparently she entered the race reluctantly, and was hurting from the start. This quote changed her mind set, and she pushed harder than she thought she could. (please check out her blog at Ironically, I pushed her just as hard as she pushed me. THIS is the beauty of a race. This is what keeps people coming back. For me, I am so excited to do trail races from now on. I plan to do a half marathon in a couple months, and depending on how that goes, I would like to do a Trail Marathon in September. What an amazing experience this race was, and I cannot wait for my future in the woods!!!

About the author

Matt Mund is the owner and founder of Mission Fitness. He is dedicated to helping his clients of all fitness levels achieve their personal goals

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