Back in 2012, the Cinderella 10K was my second ever trail race. It was in some ways the perfect introduction to trail racing – a brutal but scenic course, with technical terrain to constantly remind me to pick up my feet. In fact, I fell halfway through the race, and ended up spraining my thumb (I was holding a handheld water bottle and fell with my hand still clasping the bottle, but my thumb decided to go the other way.)
Fast forward 5 years and many more trail runs and races, I decided to sign up for the Cinderella Half Marathon. My main motivation was to run with DD, who had signed up for the 30K as a training run for next month’s Big Basin trail marathon. My other motivation was to force myself to keep doing some long runs, and hope that my growling laziness wouldn’t take over. I also love portions of this course – in particular, Sequoia-Bayview in Joaquin Miller Park and the French Trail in Redwood Regional. If you’re ever in Oakland, I highly recommend that you hike or run these trails; they’re fantastic.
I woke up race morning with a sore throat. Correction: I tossed and turned all night with a sore throat. I debated for about 2 seconds whether I should bail, and decided to table the decision until I got to the race. I could always downgrade to the 5 mile race (they’ve changed the course since 2012, switching the 10K to 5 mile, which makes all of the distances – half marathon, 30K, marathon, and 50K – easier to handle logistically). It was really cold that morning – probably in the mid-40’s? I decided to bring my hydration pack so that I could start out with a long sleeve and stuff it in the pack if I got hot (which I did).
DD’s friend JO was also running the 30K, and our friend AS ended up getting a free bib from an internet friend for the half marathon. The 4 of us started together, but within the first quarter mile, JO shot off like the speedster that she is. We didn’t see her for the rest of the race. AS, DD, and I had a nice time chatting, running along at a relaxed pace and hiking the steep parts. Because of the technical terrain (mostly loose rocks and big rutted holes), we had to hike many of the downhill sections as well.
It was a tough course and without looking at pace, I would say that I ran consistently throughout the race and felt fairly good. Approaching the 3 hour mark though, I was ready to be done. DD ran ahead, and soon AS was also a few runners ahead of me. I think we were all getting impatient. There was a tricky section of single track where I moved over for a passing runner and fell into a ditch and rolled my right ankle. Argh. Luckily, I was able to run through it. A few minutes later, I came to a complete stop as another runner had taken a bad fall and was blocking the path, with about 6 other runners stopped making sure she was OK.
Fortunately, there were no hiccups after that. I knew from the 2012 race that the finish feels like it comes out of nowhere, so I kept pressing on even though I was tired. I saw that AS was slowing down too, so I optimistically yelled out, “I think we’re almost there!” And sure enough, we turned a corner, went over the tiniest of hills, and ran into the glade where the finish corral awaited us.
I finished in just under 3:18, my slowest half marathon to-date. But it was a technical uphill and downhill course, and I knew I wasn’t in the best shape. I was happy to finish strong despite the impending head cold. I celebrated my race with an ice cold Coke from the cooler.
It’s fun to think about how many trail miles I’ve run in the past 5 years. I’ve certainly learned a lot and experienced some beautiful vistas. I look forward to exploring many more trails in the future!
time: 3:17:57 (14:53/mile)
5/9 AG; 98/133 overall
– Organizer: Coastal Trail Runs
– Distances: 5 mile (60 runners), half marathon (133), 30K (28), marathon (25), 50K (16)
– Cost: I think I paid $40 or 45? As usual, registering early is cost effective. Skip the shirt to save another $5.
– Parking: free parking along Joaquin Miller Road, though DD says her car has been broken into many times there (I have yet to experience that). There was also parking inside the park. I don’t know if there was a fee.
– Bathrooms: 2 porta potties set up at the road, and 2 more set up near the flushing toilets.
– Aid stations: They’re pretty far apart, so I would definitely bring my own water and back-up fuel. For the half, they were at mile 2.8, 8.2, and 11.3.
– Terrain: Everything from relatively level, easily runnable trail, to slippery, rocky single track. I did get a rock in my shoe at some point, so maybe gaiters would have been good.
– Tips: This is a challenging course — the ascents are steep and lung busting, and the descents are treacherous. I was glad to be running “just” the half marathon. I wouldn’t want to run two loops of this course like the full marathon and 50K runners did! Register to run pretty and tough trails, not for a fast time.