On Tuesday, my friend texted me and asked if I wanted to do a 22-mile trail run with him on Saturday. I considered it for a minute, checked the website and then decided that 22 might be a bit ambitious for my first trail run but hey, 11 should be easy! I recruited Alyssa, Kabri, and Naomi into coming to play with me (and Aron would be there too).
Bright and early on Saturday morning, we headed down to Huddart Park in Woodside for the Coastal Trail Runs’ Crystal Springs event.
Alyssa and I were both a bit nervous about the fact that this race was pretty much up a mountain. See, I get tired on the hills of Golden Gate Park and those are anthills compared to this. I was committed to walking up all the big hills and just trying to have fun.
Showing up, the vibe was TOTALLY different than road races. People were friendly but also hardcore. Some of these people were the “I eat a 50K for breakfast every Sunday” types and they scared me but also made me kind of want to be them. We got there just in time to see Aron off on her 22, then Naomi left for her 5 and Alyssa and I were left with trail expert Kabri who went over the ins and outs of how this whole shebang worked.
I was kind of terrified.
Soon, they said “go” and we ran about 0.1 mile just to stop for a few minutes in a complete bottleneck as the runners entered the trail. No one cared, it was chill. No screaming or “I’M SUPPOSED TO BE RUNNING SUB-8 PACE!” or anything else—we were all joking and laughing. Soon we were en route and running along a fire road.
The first two miles were nice—slow, calm, rollers but no mountain, yet.
Then the mountain hit.
I am not strong on hills. Okay, I LOVE rolling hills. I thought CIM’s hills were PERFECT, I’d take that over a flat course any day. But big hills? I kind of sputter and die and have passed out cold on the side of the road before you even realized I wasn’t behind you anymore. So then we started climbing a mountain and I sputtered and died. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 I was actually trying to formulate a way to tell Alyssa that I was turning around and going back.
Mile 1: 12:35
Mile 2: 12:11
Mile 3: 13:03
But then we hit mile 3 and I realized it was three miles back to the start for M&Ms or three miles up a hill to the aid station for M&Ms so I might as well give it a go.
Damn, that thing was hard. I was walking a ton and wasn’t even recovering on the walks because it felt more like speed hiking. I realized how ignorant I was of trail running and how I really had no idea how to pace myself, when to walk or what strategies to use at all! It’s such a different mental game. I felt very humbled by my inability to conquer nary the smallest hill on the course. I really didn’t think we would ever get to the top. But eventually somehow we did.
Mile 4: 16:16 (yes, really…)
Mile 5: 15:48 (yes, really…)
Mile 6: 19:00 (…)
I took a gu at mile 4.5 – I usually gu every 6 miles in a race, but it had already been over an hour by the time we got to mile 4.5 and more than three hours since I’d taken in any calories so it was very much needed. Though, gel on the trail tasted disgusting for some reason—I wanted real food. And at mile 6 (aid station) I was rewarded.
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY AND OREOS. This may have been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Ever.
I dropped one of the oreos on the ground and picked it up immediately—no way was I letting that go so easily. I put it in my glove that I was carrying to save for the way back. Yes, I ran 3 miles with an oreo in my glove. Best decision ever.
I also ran into Dorna from Lazy Chick Runs Too at the aid station! I knew she looked familiar. So funny! She was also getting beat down by the trail like I was but remained happy – it was great to meet her!
Going back was so fun. Downhill! Me wanting to fling myself off the mountain turned into me actually having a really good time. A and I were talking about Ogden, running downhill, what hurt (everything) and the general jabber and the last four miles went by quite quickly. Yes, four. The course was actually ten miles. Following in the theme of running races much shorter than advertised. Kabri, who came in fourth in her AG, finished 20 minutes ahead of us and also clocked 9.5 miles. The mystery of trail running.
Mile 7: 11:24
Mile 8: 11:42
Mile 9: 11:57
Mile 10: 9:06 (WOOOOOOOO!! SUB 10!!!!!!!!)
Overall, it took me 2 hours and 13 minutes to run ten miles. That is a 13:20 pace. Some people finished the marathon and 50K at sub-8 pace! I have such newfound respect (and awe and disbelief…) for trail runners. What a different mental game! But at least there are things like cookies at the end.
Afterward, I felt like I’d run a marathon or ten. My ankles were stiff, knees were angry, shoulders sore from keeping me upright. I felt like an old woman! But I am so glad I did it. I am looking forward to running more trails. It really is beautiful. I just need to learn the mental game and really not care about the fact that I’m doing more hiking than running. : )
And then lunch was fries and an unpictured Banana Oreo Snow with large tapioca from
Fun stuff. I’m going to have to do this again soon. Once everything doesn’t hurt anymore.
Ever done trail running? What do you prefer – road or trail?