Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nueces Trail Marathon

The Nueces 50 Miler and Marathon race was held on March 6 this year at the Camp Eagle park. This was the first year for this race in this form, and it was very exciting to be a part of the launch.

Camp Eagle is a gorgeous park. This is beautiful, rugged Texas hill country, with steep hills and a spring-fed river. I'd visited the park earlier for a few days in fall 2009 when I volunteered to help create, measure and map the trails here for the race. I was so impressed with the park and the facilities there that I felt like I'd stumbled upon a hidden treasure in my backyard! It wasn't the best time to visit the park for me though, as most of the hills are covered with cedar trees, and bush-whacking through the trees just puffed up clouds of pollen that didn't do my cedar allergies any good. It was all good though, I really enjoyed hiking and running on the trails, learning about how Joe Prusaitis, the race director, maps out the race courses and meeting all the friendly folks at Camp Eagle. It was no surprise then that I decided to run the race...

I selected the Nueces marathon as my target race for Team Asha and I pledged to raise $100/mile for the Austin chapter of Asha. At Asha, I have been working with 2 projects for children in Rajasthan (India) for a few years now:
(a) GSK, an education project that provides very high quality education to about 400 kids this year.
(b) RMKM, an education and rehabilitation program for about 375 mentally challenged children.

The race
I hadn't trained specifically for this race, but I had been running and keeping up with my fitness generally. But I'd flared up my hip flexors a couple of days before the race, and I was worried about having to run through pain and having a miserable race. My anxieties lifted though even as I drove into the park the previous night, and met all my running buddies. I decided that I'd have fun at the race - and the attitude change helped with my run the next morning.

It was a wonderful day to run. It was cool, in the 50's, cloudy, and we had challenging trails in beautiful hills to run on. I started very slow and it took me nearly 2 hours to complete the first 9.5 mile loop. And from miles 8 through 14, I struggled through with pain in my right hip flexor. The worst part of having the pain was that I couldn't run all those long delicious downhills! Even as I was starting to contemplate dropping out of the race, the aid station at mile 14 came up and I was supplied with some ibuprofen. That saved my race, and my next 12 miles went much better than my first 14 miles had. Surprisingly, I finished rather strongly and managed to pull in to the finish chute in about 5:50. I was happy with the time I made, especially with all the low expectations I'd set through the previous day and the race.

It was a good race to be a part of - the race organizers, the volunteers, the camp staff and the scenery were all wonderful. I'd definitely go back for this race next year!

My Team Asha fund-raising page
Gramin Shiksha Kendra (GSK)
Rajasthan Mahila Kalyan Mandal (RMKM)
Nueces Trail Marathon (Tejas Trails)
Pictures from my Camp Eagle visits