Monday, April 04, 2011

My First Trail Race

My first trail race (the event is also called this) was so much fun.

I was so nervous about this event because a) I'm not a trail runner, b) I haven't had much time to run on trails, and c) I really had no idea what to expect. The map of the course didn't tell me much so db and I went to walk the trail the day before and saw that it had already been marked out with pink tape; we could follow the trail easily. I realized later that we had walked it backwards, but that didn't matter. I'm glad we walked it because it took away some of the anxiety I was having.

We had home-made pizza the night before (good pre-race meal I think). I got up around 6:30ish to have my Vega smoothie and make sure everything I needed was packed into my bag. A full change of clothes seemed like a good idea because during our walk the day before it had rained a little on lower Seymour even while it was sunny and clear in North Van. I also packed extra shoes because even though my beloved Cascadias dry really fast, I was worried about a downpour and being really damp and miserable at the end. Packed and fuelled, db and I headed out the door around 8 am for the 9 am race start (I wanted to be there early for the warm-up as well).

It took us no time at all to get there (a lot faster on a Sunday morning with no traffic), but the more I sat in the car in the parking lot, the more nervous I got. Would I be able to do this? I know it's only 5 km, but it's 5 km of trail some of which is roots and rocks, a long descent on stairs and a serious uphill towards the end. Would my legs seize up after all of the ups and downs? Would I come in last? Would I trip over a rock and cut myself? These were all new fears, but it was kind of fun to be facing a bit of the unknown. Don't get me wrong, I do love the road races as well, and the challenges of endurance and mental strength that those events ask of me, but trail is a whole new game.

I put on my hat and gloves (it's chilly at those higher elevations!), and joined in the warm up with the rest of the participants (there's a 100 person limit total to this run for the 5 and 10 k), which was fun and it relaxed me a little.

Then we lined up at the start. It was a pretty relaxed atmosphere. I didn't feel like I needed to get out in a flash, and I didn't want to be stuck at the back either, so I hung around in the middle somewhere. And then we were off and it started like every other running race I've ever done: we were all bunched up together and then there was a bit of jostling for position as we all sought our own pacing. As we opened up onto the double wide track, I found my spot pretty quick, and got into a groove fast because you have to when you're only doing 5 km. 

By the time we hit the single track trail, I already had a few people marked as ones I wanted to keep pace with, and I passed them at one point and they passed me at one point. There isn't much room to pass on the trail so you have to think quickly and make decisions about where to step. It was so much fun. It's a bit like an obstacle course while you run, and I don't think I felt much of the ground at all. I was so focused on trying to listen to my body and when I needed to slow and speed up, that it really did all fly past so quickly. When I faced the big hill near the end, it didn't take me long to figure out that I needed to walk it. I looked around to see that everyone was walking it. There's no point in burning yourself out on a steep climb, leaving nothing for the top.

Then the finish line was in sight and I saw db taking a picture on my way to it. I crossed it and felt great! The times were posted right away, so I could see that I had run the 5 km in 29 minutes. Much better than I thought since trail is much slower than pavement.

So here's the breakdown:

time: 29:23 -- actually it was really 29:13 because it took about 10 secs for me to cross the start line :)
place: 24th (that's out of 66 of us in the 5 km category)
category: 2nd (that's F40-49 and there were 9 of us in that age group)

Not bad for a first timer. Can't wait for the next one! I'm researching them now to see what else I can do.


Anonymous said...

I bet it was so much fun!!! I've read about trail races; they look very exciting! Wow, great time and place.

Wandering Coyote said...

I'm planning on taking my intervals out onto the trails when the snow melts (perhaps August at this rate). I guess it would be like an obstacle course since there are all kinds of little inconsistencies and things in the way along a trail vs along the road.

Go you!

Anonymous said...

Good for you. You've found a new path, so to speak and it sounds like so much fun. md