Yesterday I ran the Autumn Leaves 5 Miler in nearby Kirtland, Ohio. The race winds it way through the Lake Farm Park taking you through grassy and uneven fields, gravel paths, past barns and farm equipment and through a corn maze. I completed this race once before in 2012 and swore I’d never do it again. At that time, I was 3 weeks post my first marathon and battling a chronic injury which made running through grass fields my least favorite activity! For being a relatively short distance, this is one tough race!! With the uneven footing and multiple uphills, this race really challenges me to push outside of my racing comfort zone.
As a birthday gift for Amy, I registered her and myself for this race. She’d never done it and I knew this would be a fun time for both of us. And plenty of other people had the same idea as about 20 members of my running group joined as did my brother Andrew, BRF Leighanna, and frequent training partner Rachel. My husband Chris and little guy Liam joined as well. We met up with Elizabeth and her husband Matt and it felt like a total social party at the start line!
Pre race with MRTT
Liam won the pre race kids costume contest with this awesome costume completely handmade by Chris! Pretty sure we’ll never top this costume! Liam did however refuse to participate in the kids fun run-probably because he couldn’t even walk in this thing!
Andrew and Amy starting strong
Once the kids run was over, we lined up with the 200 or so runners and the race started exactly at 9am. We start on a nice down hill which really put me into high gear. I looked at my watch at one point and saw that we were comfortably running an 8.35 pace. My brother Andrew, Amy, and friend Sydney naturally matched paces and stuck together for the majority of the race. So at about .77 miles into the race, they were all there to witness me roll my ankle, trip over myself, grab on to Andrew’s arm and skid to a stop! It was quite the maneuver! I hobbled for a few steps and continued running albeit a bit more slowly. Funny story-I must have been running on a ton of adrenaline because I didn’t realize that I had actually fallen until I got home and saw a ton of road rash on my leg. I knew my leg hurt but I had no idea why!
The best part is miles 2-4 as we go through the fields and pastures of the farm park. I loved this section this year! I focused on maintaining an even pace despite the uneven terrain. Grass running is always tough for me but trail shoes and the foresight to try to bank some time on the downhills seemed to pay off. I felt good as I navigated the uneven ground. The corn maze section was so much fun!! It’s an actual working maze that fortunately they had roped off to help the runners navigate through otherwise who knows how long we would’ve spent in there haha! There was a bit of soft mud in the maze which made the turns a bit tricky but running through a maze mid race certainly is a unique experience.
After exiting the maze we were back on to a gravelly road. We passed a pack of befuddled looking alpaca’s and starting winding our way up a hill back towards the main road. Once there, we again turned onto a long grassy section and made our way to the finish line. Unfortunately, the turn to the finish line was quite tight and Amy lost her footing and now it was her turn to roll her ankle. She politely declined my offer to carry her the rest of the way. We both walked the last 20 feet to finish in 46.07. Just for comparison, my 2012 time was 58.xx
After crossing, I bumped into a bunch of other local runner friends. I socialized for a bit before packing up and heading out for breakfast. This race was the perfect mix of fun, competitive (there are some fast people in this area) and challenging. I’m glad I came back after my disasterous finish in 2012. The club that organized this race is fantastic. Northeast Running Club put on a fantastic race- I’ll be back in 2017!