I had to run this race again this year despite it being only one week after the Random Acts of Giving Marathon since I came so close to the course record last year! When I justify to others why I have to run certain races, it’s really more to convince myself than anyone else.
The Overall Female record is 2:28:15 and the Masters Female record is 2:34:37. Last year I was only 39 so not eligible for the Masters record just yet. The X-Country 30K is a gorgeous trail run at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida. There is a section of the course that you run twice so when you exit the sandy section and trail near the restrooms, pavilions, and finish area the first time you take a right so you can go do the second loop, and then the second time you run straight to the finish. Last year was a cool day, perfect for a long race like this. It was my first time running the 30K and I was on course record pace when I exited the trail the second time only to have the volunteer send me to the right AGAIN. I ran about a half mile in the wrong direction before I decided that this was ridiculous and wrong so I headed to the finish line as the overall female winner. I ran over 19.5 miles and my average pace was faster than the Overall Female course record pace but because I had run longer than 18.6 miles (30K), my finish time was 2:33:20, slower than the record. I was so frustrated by this experience at first but after filling out the finish card, getting a drink, and walking around a bit, I realized that the volunteer who sent me the wrong way made a mistake. We are human and we make mistakes sometimes. I should have known the course. I still won the race and a very cool trophy but vowed to return in 2013 to go after that course record!
2013 rolls around and now I am 40 so I had a shot at both the overall and masters records. I was very excited about this! I knew the course so there would be no mistakes heading to the finish line. A very hot day and being sick thwarted my course record attempts. But I still enjoyed the beautiful cross country course and won the race. The woman who was in the lead dropped out around 12 miles. Not sure if the heat got to her or something else. I felt bad for her but it reminded me of a quote from a newspaper article from my high school cross country days: “Sometimes even good runners need a little luck.” Source: Original 1987 article by Gregory Kerstetter
As I exited the trail to head to the finish, a volunteer asked me as I whizzed by if I was 30K and heading to the finish. All I could manage to blurt out was “FINISH!” They weren’t going to make me run more than 30K this year! Ha ha!
This is a tough race for volunteers since there’s a marathon, 30K, and half marathon all using the same trails. I definitely do not expect volunteers to keep track of everyone, which race they are in, and which loop they are on. I am just very glad I knew the course this year. TampaRaces.com puts on some great races and definitely THE best trail races I have run. Next year I am hoping for cooler temperatures for the X-Country 30K as I once again attempt an overall or masters record.