The Algonquin 50K seemed to fall on the most brutal day of the winter, and the Naylor Mill 7K fell on what I’m pretty sure was the hottest day of the summer. This fact has not been lost on participants of both events, according to Facebook.
The race was last Friday, Aug. 13, at 6:30 p.m. I didn’t check the heat index right before, but in the afternoon, it was 95 degrees, with a “feels like” temperature of 111.
Garmin logged the temperature at the start as 88, “feels like” 98, but I saw others post that the “feels like” temperature was over 100. Either way, it was a hot one out there. Since I’ve had heat issues at races before (several years ago now — the latest incident was seven years ago, because I’ve learned my lesson), I was fine going into this race, at the Naylor Mill Forest Trail in Salisbury, as more of a fun run. I also made sure to hydrate during the day.
This was my fifth year running the Naylor Mill 7K. Earlier this year in the Facebook group for this event, I found out that I am one of only three people to run the race all five years. So, of course, I plan to keep this streak going! It’s a fun summer tradition, even though these are the toughest trails in the area.
The race is a Bacon vs. Scrapple (vs. Veggies) event. Bacon and Scrapple are the two main teams. Each year, I have been a part of Team Bacon. The Top 10 runners for each team contribute to the team’s score (I believe that is how it works), but, it’s nice to know that slower times do not hurt your team.
The first part of the run is around baseball fields, which helps spread everyone out, since the trail is singletrack. As usual, I felt I landed in a pretty good spot. I’ve mostly been doing run-walk intervals, but I felt pretty good starting this section out with just running. I knew I would be walking later, and I figured I would save the walking for the more difficult part.
Because of the heat, runners were required to run with water — which I have always done at this race anyway — and there were also two water stops and an early exit option.
Everybody’s watches/apps always seem to be different here because of all the twisty trails through the woods, but a 7K is about 4.35 miles. My watch logged 4.64 miles.
We went into the trails after about 0.8 mile. Since the early part of the trails isn’t as difficult as the later part and most of the first mile wasn’t in the trails, I completed the first mile in 12:52 — a pace I knew I would not be able to keep up on the trails, which have numerous turns, roots and hills.
I ended up running into some friends who were doing run-walk intervals. At first, I went past them, actually feeling better than expected, but when they caught up to me not long after, they happily let me join them. We ended up doing a decent amount of walking, but that was fine with me, as I was really not trying to race this event in the heat.
The first water stop was when we entered the trails, so I skipped that one. We came across the second water stop maybe a little more than 2.5 miles into the race. This was much appreciated, and I refilled my water bottle. Later on, my friend Karen that I’d been running with and I joined another group of friends who had been doing run-walk intervals and had caught up to us.
We were planning to walk the hills and run the flat areas, but it seemed that almost everything was a hill. There was a new area added to the course that none of us had been on, and it was filled with hills. Sometimes, the downhills can be tough to run, too, because they can be so steep.
Then, later on, it started to get a little dark, so we kept walking. However, I would consider this a speed-hike, and it really was not much slower than what I probably would have been able to accomplish running on the trail.
I’ve only worn my trail shoes — the Brooks Cascadia GTX 15 — a few times, but I wore them for this race and have been loving them so far. I received them when I won a social media challenge with a team as part of the Brooks Run Happy Team. I have taken others’ advice and will plan to wear a non-waterproof shoe for the Algonquin 50K — and I actually just received the Cascadia 16 from Brooks!
Most importantly, I actually felt great, despite the heat. Including a run that morning, I’d already run 31.62 miles from Monday-Friday leading up to this race as I tried to finish the virtual Race Across Maryland. I ended up finishing the 250 miles over 60 days one day late — the day after this race.
A lot of times, I like to run my own race, but it seems like for trail races in particular, having a group can be helpful for me. It made the miles go by more quickly to have friends with me.
The trail exit was different than previous years, so we headed out into a field and had a chance to run again, getting in a bit of speed before the finish line.
It got dark quickly, so there wasn’t a ton of time for socializing afterward, and most people had already finished (I finished 116th of 127). However, I was able to get a doughnut with bacon on it, a couple pieces of bacon and a nonalcoholic beer from Athletic Brewing Co. I then went to my car a couple times to get Eastern Shore Running Club orders for people. The second time I was at my car, it looked like a storm was imminent, so I just stayed at my car and then headed home as a deluge of rain came down.
Although it was hot, humid and hilly, I still had fun. I plan to be back for year six in 2022!
Mile 1: 12:52
Mile 2: 19:14
Mile 3: 21:44
Mile 4: 22:29
Last part (watch had 0.64): 11:45 (18:18 pace)
Total: 1:28:06/18:59 pace on watch
Time on results: 1:28:01
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