Muddy Paws Trail Race

In case you missed my tweets after the race this morning, it did not go as planned and I ended up only doing the 5-mile portion. I had intended on doing the 10-mile portion. S0 here is what happened.

Alarm went off at 4:30am (ugh super early), I rolled out of bed at 4:47am, got dressed, put my hair up, ate a power bar (cookies and cream), chugged water and left to drive to peninsula at 5:30am.

I have been to Peninsula, OH maybe 3 times in my life so I was relying heavily on my garmin (car GPS not my watch GPS) to get me there. After almost an hour drive my Gamin told me I was there. I certainly was not there, I was on some random road and could see no park entrance or signs nearby. I drove on for a couple miles and decided I was heading in the wrong direction and would need to turn around. Except the first place I found to turn around was the place I needed to be! What are the chances. Arrival time 6:15am.

Pine Hollow Trail at the Cuyahoga National Park

When I arrived it was raining, not pouring just raining but the sun was also just beginning to come out and there were not a lot of clouds so I was sensing it would stop soon.

Early Morning Sunrise

So I went and picked up my packet, which consisted of a race shirt and bib. The shirt is easily a new favorite of mine ( I am actually wearing it right now, love it!)


After I grabbed my packet I waited in my car until about 7am to seek shelter from the rain. But I got brave and left my car at just in time to see the start of the 2-mile dog run. I may or may not have been creeping on dogs and picking out the ones I would like to have.

Finally, at about 7:30 my race was set to begin. I headed down to the start area which consisted of climbing down a giant hill…..which would be the start of many hills I would need to climb Sad smile 

At this point of this post I need to let you know that I am not an experienced trail runner. Most of the trails I have “trained” on are flatish and gravel (no grass or hills). The only trail race I have ever done was only 4 miles and consisted of 1 dirt hill.

When the race started it was different from the road races I am used to. Everyone was really relaxed and most of us were single file as the race started. I trudged up that first hill and was surprised that people were walking up it, it was the first hill of the race, how could people be walking. After the first hill we ran across a grassy area and then entered the woods where the real trail running would begin.

I instantly loved running in the woods. It was a challenge, there were roots everywhere and the ground was pretty wet and muddy from the morning thunderstorms we had. My pace instantly slowed down while in the woods. I had to pay so much attention to everything around me. I even ditched my headphones for this race.

The first mile felt like it took forever. It was probably one of my fastest miles of the race but it was very hilly and made me pretty tired. However, it only got hillier after that. By mile 2 I had no idea how I would tackle those hills a second time. I was having trouble picking up my legs high enough and not trip over roots and such.


After running through more puddles and going up and downstairs and climbing over trees that were down on the course I was barely at 3 miles. I remained positive and ignored the times that my garmy was telling me and pushed on. By mile 4 I was seeing a lot of people walking. It was only a 10 mile race how could you be walking at mile 4 already. Not gonna lie, I wished I was walking my legs were feeling incredibly heavy.

I made a deal with myself at this point that if I could finish the first 5 mile portion without walking that I could take walk breaks on the hard sections of the race for the second half. Unfortunately, when I got to about mile 4.6 I decided that I was done and that the trails had got the best of me. I was beat. I crossed the finish line and hung my head and sadly walked away in defeat.

I was highly disappointed in myself for only doing the 5 mile portion. I avoided talking to any other runners after the race because I was so upset. As I slowly made my way back to the finish area I talked with some other runners who had also switched and did the 5 instead of the 10. Talking with them made me feel a lot better that I was not the only one who wimped out and I was not alone in feeling guilty for not doing the 10 mile.

I also received this tweet that really made my day and made me feel 110% better! Thanks Roxetta!

@MojaMala2 Don’t feel bad! At least you got out and did it. Trail running is tough! That’s why they always have the option to stop early! 

My official time for the race is not posted yet but my garmy tells me it was about 56 mins. I usually run around 37 mins for a road race 5 miler so that tells you just how hard it was.

Justin wins the Beast award for this race because he took of and rocked the entire race and completed the 10 mile portion!

Justin on his way to a strong finish!

Moja wins the Safety award for taking all precautions on the trails.

Safety First!

While running this race I highly questioned ever running a trail race again. however, I have decided I need to practice my trail running and need to get my revenge on this race and try out some other trail races. These things are super tough and I love me a good challenge.

Now I am off to run a 5K in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Lakewood! So yes I am running 2 races in 1 day, yes I am crazy, yes I am loving every minute of it!

Have you ever ran 2 races in 1 day? how about 2 races in 1 weekend?

7 thoughts on “Muddy Paws Trail Race

  1. Awesome job, jess!!! Don’t be down on yourself. Trail races are tough…an entirely different kind of experience than a road race. I only did one 15k trail race in the snow, and as you’ve described your experience, it was HARD. You made the right decision listening to your body. Had you kept going, you could have put yourself at risk of injury. I was so grateful I didn’t twist an ankle after my race!! Haha keep training on those trails and you will kick its butt even more next time!! And, you get the beast award for two races in one day!!! That is not something I’ve ever attempted!!

  2. That sounds like it was a tough course. Nothing to be ashamed of either and great attitude about getting better at trail racing. And smart call with the pink outfit to go with the blue hard hat. Pink goes with everything 🙂

  3. you’re a bad ass for driving that far, that early in the morning for a race not to mention the fact that you ran 5 super tough miles! i like to stick to the road, myself!

  4. Jeez Chica, go easy on yourself. This is my second year of doing the 10 mile and I’m not a big trail runner, but this course is ROUGH. I walked a bunch myself. I always want to finish at five, but as I always run at least 10 on Saturdays and eat like a man, I was in for 10. I’m super sore still. I say come back next year and come with a trail run mindset and not a road race mindset. You need to walk when your body says and it’s absolutely ok.

  5. Kudos to you! I’ve only done one trail race and I can’t believe how hard it was. It was a 5-miler and that was about all I could handle! I laughed when looking up this one hill…it was practically vertical! As it was a double-loop course, I got looped by several people and just kept laughing at myself. I’m doing the Mudathalon in September…not sure if that counts as a trail race or just a crazy muddy obstacle course. Ha!

  6. Welcome to the wonderful world of trail running girl! After 10 years of being a Road Warrior and PR’ing my way to burn-out, I am happily succumbed to slower trail running. Ditching your headphones was a smart move. I cringe when I see these damn things on the trail. A waste of solitude of Nature, unless of course your running a 100-mile race. Not for me. As far as back-to-back races, I’m considering running the Classic @ Mastick followed the next day with the Twilight Trail 8k. Post-race Dewey’s and Pizza and Beer.

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