Sunday, May 17, 2015

On the Run: DEFF Unity Run 5K 2015

Three weeks ago I ran my first competitive race this season and did fairly well. I hadn't had a pacing plan, however, and was already looking forward to my next chance to run a faster race with even or negative splits.  

Just a few days later I received an email attachment at work about a 5K in Dearborn, just a mile and a half from my house.  The race was the DEFF Unity run, hosted by the three high schools in the school district - Dearborn High, Edsel Ford, and Fordson (DEFF).  The event is sponsored by the Anti-Bullying, Peer-to-Peer, and Diversity teams at the three schools. Proceeds for the event funded an annual Dearborn Public Schools Student Leadership Diversity Summit and a scholarship for students involved in the programs sponsoring the event.  It sounded like a great cause in my school district, the race was close to home, and I was looking for another chance to run a 5K.  Perfect!   I convinced Brian to run the race, too.

On race morning, I ran to the start for my warm-up (1.5 miles).  There were several events that morning - a 1-mile race for elementary students, a 2-mile race for middle schoolers, and 2 5K races (adult and high school age).  Ours didn't start until 10:30 so I was able to sleep in.  I hadn't gotten any information about the course beforehand and assumed it would be through the neighborhoods around Ford Field where the race started.  Well, we all know what happens when you assume.

The race was not on the roads at all.  Unbeknownst to us, Brian and I had just signed up for a trail race, which we found out at the grassy start line as the course was being explained to us.  I looked down at my Fasttwitch racing flats and thought, "Oh sh*t."  And then I laughed.  Because I had to.  Pacing plan went out the window.  This was my first trail race in almost two years.  Anything could happen.  Time to just go with it and have fun!

With an "On your mark, get set, GO!" we were off.  We started off on the grass, instructed to keep picnic tables to our left and the Rouge River to our right.  The beginning of the race was in Ford Field Park.  I was leading through the park until we hit the Rouge River Trail.  At this point I was passed by Don, another teacher in the district.  I was relieved to have someone to follow, considering I had no idea where we were going and the course wasn't all that well marked.  About a mile in I was itching to pass but the trail is narrow and I didn't see an opportunity to make my move.  

As we neared the halfway point we were instructed by a volunteer to turn left.  Don was still in the lead.  Suddenly we ran into another runner who'd been behind us.  We'd gone the wrong way!  We were in the turn-around loop so we just turned around and ran the other way.  This put me in the lead and allowed me to pick up the pace.  I knew where I was going this time, so that helped, as well.

As I exited the trail back into the park, I almost went the wrong way again.  At the last second two young volunteers noticed me (they'd just been lolly-gagging around instead of paying attention) and pointed me in the right direction.  From there the course took me up a steep grassy hill where I slowed down because there were no markings as to where to go next.  This is where Don caught up and passed me.  I chased him across the top of the hill to where the flags were (I didn't see them!).  Then it was down the hill, up and down a smaller hill (at this point I passed him again), and across a grassy stretch to the finish.  

After finishing, I cheered on the rest of the racers (of which there were only 18 total - it was a tiny race!).  Brian finished his first trail race in 27:29 and loved it.  One of the best parts is that the Rouge River Trail is just a mile and a half from our house and we didn't even know it was there!  Even though it wasn't what we expected for our race that day in some ways it was even better!




Get Ready / Mayer Hawthorne
Rattlesnake / St. Vincent
I Love It / Icona Pop
Cadillac, Cadillac / Train
The Feast and the Famine / Foo Fighters
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Sabatoge / Beastie Boys

*I wouldn't normally listen to music for a trail race.  I didn't know it was a trail race and then when I realized it was the field was so small I figured it would be okay.

I actually received the wrong medal.  The back of mine says "One Mile Walk".  My first OA award and it was wrong.  (So just don't turn it over!)

After we got our awards I headed to the Rouge River Gateway Trail (paved) for the rest of my long run.  I needed another 6 miles to get 10 total for the day.  It was really hot by then but much of the trail is shaded, so that helped.  I usually prefer to run earlier in the day but wanted fresh legs for the race.  Had I known it was a trail race, however, I may have planned things a bit differently.

Brian and I had a lot of fun with this race.  Hopefully next year - year 3 - they will make some improvements.  More volunteers on the course and/or better markings would be a huge help.  I got off course a few times!  (True, I am known for getting lost in races but still...)  Dearborn schools publicized the race within the schools but not much to runners outside of the district.  The trail is beautiful - like a mini, no-frills Flirt with Dirt - so hopefully next year it will attract more runners.  I offered to help and will do so again next year.

In the meantime, Brian and I will have to get back to the River Rouge Trail this summer to take a break from the pavement - especially since it's right in our own backyard!

For anyone familiar with the Dearborn area, you can see where the Rouge River Trail is located.  I only ran on a small portion of it for the race but will run the whole loop this summer.

Do you enjoy running or racing on trails?

1 comment:

  1. Good showing....You will be a big help in publicizing the 2016 race!