Pictures say it all.
Here are our pre-race clean and sparkling shoes:
Here are our battered post-race shoes:
I'll admit that the mud did add to the fun even though I wasn't very fond of it, especially when it's on my body. Rain started pouring down when we were waiting around at race start. Turned out other than getting soaked, the rain kept the temperature down and was perfect for running. The original course included a greenway section that was flooded, so they changed the course to doing a loop around the lake, and then an out-and-back on part of the loop. The trail condition deteriorated quite a bit for the second half of the race after all the rain and beatings. I found myself dancing around mud holes while trying to stay balanced and plant my feet properly. Although that probably slowed me down a bit, at least I was never bored.
Going into the race as a training run, my friend Brian Boyle from Gaston Rehab Associates suggested me to try negative-split the last part of the race. I went out really easy for the first 6 miles, and then slowly picked up the pace. I felt really good during the last couple miles, and finished the race feeling like I still had something left in the tank. Overall, it was a good training / experimenting run. I averaged at 8:37 for the course.
I really can't ask for much more as far as race experience goes. In a race, we share a communal experience. At this point in time, we all came together to do something we love. We were all being rained on, covered in mud, running to the best of our ability, having a great time, and in good company. I might eventually forget what pace and time I did the race in, but I'd never forget seeing Chuck, Rob, and Josh flew by me on the out-and-back, the laughter in the car, and of course, our muddy, battered shoes experience.