Why I wanted to run this race:
For my birthday, the Gypsy Runner suggested that he pay for race entries so that we could run a race together, which I thought was a *perfect* idea. Coincidentally, Inside Trail was offering a 15% discount on race registration, and when Cathryn also decided to join in on the fun, I was sold.
Nothing solid, considering my post-MCM binge eating carb-fest (a.k.a., my trip to Taiwan). In the back of my mind, I thought it would be awesome if I could finish in 2:30. However, having not run longer than 11 miles or on any hilly trails for over a month, I decided I would be happy beating my time from my first trail half marathon at the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge — 2:48:56. Trail races are hard to compare, but both LCTC and Woodside had similar elevation gains of 2000’+. Another equally important goal was to have fun. This was my birthday present, after all, and I wasn’t going to spoil it by being too hung up about my performance.
The half marathon course runs between Huddart Park and Wunderlich Park. Some of you might remember that back in the summer, I had run some of these trails with Cathryn (see: my post, her post). I thought the trails were gorgeous. Tough, but gorgeous!
Pre-race (Race Day):
Our races didn’t start until 9 and 9:15 (the Gypsy Runner was running the 10K), which allowed for a relatively relaxing race day morning — yay for winter races! As an experiment, I decided to eat a little more than usual. (Still not sure how that went; I’ll need to do more tests.) We arrived at Huddart Park at 8:30 a.m. as planned, but unfortunately, so did everyone else. Luckily, the line to pay the park entrance fee went rather quickly, and before I knew it, I had parked, used the restroom, gotten my bib, chatted with the Gypsy Runner and Cathryn (who was running the 10K; see her recap here), and walked to the starting corral. It was a bit difficult to hear the instructions, but luckily I didn’t miss anything important. I decided to eat a last-minute pre-race Clif Blok, and then we were off!
The first short section of the course was single track and very crowded. I knew we’d eventually hit wider trails, so I tried to remain calm and not let the crowd get to me. As for scenery, most of the course was very similar — beautiful redwood forest with soft, pine needle covered trails; i.e., my definition of perfect trail running. Even the grade was perfect for both uphill and downhill. There was only one hill where I saw everyone walking — otherwise, everything was runnable, as long as you were fit enough. Alas, I was *not* fit enough and had to alternate between running and walking in very short intervals.
I was climbing, very slowly but surely, up to Skyline Trail. Around mile 4, the lead 10K runners were starting to pass me. This meant that I got to see and run with the Gypsy Runner briefly, which was exciting. Also right around that time, I remember feeling tired and noticing that the Clif Bloks weren’t agreeing with my stomach. I started to get down on myself about being so slow during this climb, but then I caught myself before I fell into the dreaded shame spiral. I remembered that my main goal was to have fun and enjoy this race, so I stopped concentrating on the negative and focused on the beauty around me and for being able to participate in this race.
A couple of miles later, I was really happy to finally reach the aid station — the Tailwind electrolyte drink tasted so refreshing! There was a short out-and-back section past the aid station to the turn around, and I stopped for another hit of Tailwind on my way back. I also spent 2-3 minutes re-tying my shoes with my not-very-agile cold fingers — my shoes were really loose and I prefer to run downhill with tightly bound shoes. To me, it was time well-spent.
I was in a pretty good mood after the turn around, knowing that I was more than halfway done and had a lot of downhill miles ahead of me. It also helped that the downhill sections were so fun. I felt like I was flying! I was also aware however, that I still had quite a few miles ahead of me. And for the first time in a long time, it was actually muscle fatigue that kept me from running up the small hilly sections, not my lungs or my heart. During this section, I was running near 2 women who were happily chatting away. At first I wanted to run away from their conversation, but I eventually found solace in it and enjoyed having them around.
I kept leap-frogging with the 2 women for over 4 miles, but they passed me for the final time as we went up a small hill, at what I thought was mile 11.5. I saw them crest the hill, and then they took off with some zeal. Unbeknownst to me, the finish was less than half a mile away! My Garmin must have gotten confused by all of the switchbacks (I’ve omitted my Garmin splits for this very reason), so I hadn’t expected the finish to be so close. I saw the parking lot and began to hoof it. As I entered the field, I saw the Gypsy Runner cheering me on and the finish corral in the distance. I tried my best to kick to the end and crossed the finish line in 2:39:44, way off my “A” goal, but still more than 9 minutes faster than LCTC.
After catching my breath and reuniting with the Gypsy Runner, I ate a few slices of watermelon, my favorite post-run snack. I found out that the Gypsy Runner came in at 55:19, good for 11th overall and 4th in his age group (so close!). For not having run in over a month, I think he did awesome. We shared a soda and even though I had no appetite, I grabbed a some snacks for the road. I picked up my shirt and coffee mug (in lieu of a medal, which is cool and useful, actually!) and we headed home. Marathons notwithstanding, it was the first time in a long time that I remember feeling so incredibly exhausted. My muscles ached all over, but in a good way that was pleasing to me — in a way, it signified the hard work they had done that day. It was a happy birthday indeed.
About the race:
- Organizers: Inside Trail
- Cost: $45 for the half marathon. Other distances: 10K, 30K, and 50K.
- Course: Challenging but runnable trails in Huddart and Wunderlich Parks. ~2100′ elevation gain over 13.1 miles.
- Parking: $6 park entry fee.
- Aid stations: You come across the same aid station twice — once at ~mile 6 then again at ~7.
- Bathrooms: 2 bathroom facilities at the picnic area (start/finish). None on the course.
- Swag: Short-sleeve tech T-shirt and ceramic mug with attractive logo.
- Other notes: Well-organized and gorgeous trails. As mentioned, the free photos are an amazing perk. I would definitely recommend this race!
Official time: 2:39:44 (12:12/mile)
16/20 AG, 50/78 F, 108/142 overall