Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Race Recap: Crystal Spring 11-Miler TRAIL RACE!!

Yesssss, folks: You read that correctly. I did a trail race!

Late last week, Aron asked me if I was interested in running a 22-mile trail race over the weekend. I laughed and turned her down. Then, Courtney asked me if I was interested in running that same trail race, but the 11-miler. I said I'd get back to her, but that I was leaning toward no. Then Naomi asked me to join, as she had signed up for the 5-miler. I said I'd think about it. And then I found out seasoned trailrunner Kabri was going to be running the 11-miler as well and it finally sunk in that this was an opportunity I shouldn't pass up. I do love running with friends!

After juggling around a few weekend plans, I bit the bullet and registered for my first legit trail race... with no terrain preparation and hardly any recent long runs under my belt.

The mountain we were ill-prepared to climb.

On Friday afternoon I met up with RoadBunner and Karin for a 13-mile run, my longest run since CIM. First smart move of the weekend.

On Saturday morning, I met up with Courtney, Naomi, Kabri, and Aron for the hardest 10.6-miler of my life, my second longest run since CIM. Second smart move.

Aron getting ready to take off on her 22-miler.

Me & Naomi, freezing our butts off while waiting for her start.

(Basically pro) trail runner Kabri, Naomi, & me.

As I've been waiting for Courtney to send me pictures from the weekend (my phone has been having issues & I got almost nothing from the weekend), she posted her race report and wrote essentially everything I wanted to write about this race, but much, much funnier than I would ever be able to do.

So, I am going to be uber lazy & say: Read Courtney's race report here.

For my not-so-entertaining take, read on.

Courtney and I agreed to run this race together, and we met up with a bunch of other maniacs preparing to run up a mountain. The atmosphere was so different compared to every race I've ever done. There was no starting gun, no one shoving and pushing their way to the front, and no one being rude.

Instead, everyone calmly jogged away when prompted, and the entire crowd joked and laughed at how we were all basically in last place from the very start. And they were okay with that. I liked it.

Not your standard starting line.

The first mile was nearly entirely downhill but bottle-necked, the second mile was gradually uphill, and by mile 3 I was ready to throw in the towel. The switchback climbing was ENDLESS. Courtney and I started walking to conserve energy the moment we felt tired, and even walking was hardly counting as recovery. The hill was so steep and unforgiving, and this was a serious power-hike.

Once Courtney reminded me that we were basically climbing five 40-story buildings in the span of 3 miles, I kind of wanted to lose it. Of course I couldn't let her know that. I tried to stay motivated by thinking about the checkpoint at mile 6 where we could take a break, and then it'd pretty much be a downhill fly from that point. (Yeah, right.)

Photo of the never-ending switchbacks courtesy of Dorna, whom we randomly met at the aid station!

Best aid station ever! Coke, potato chips, M&Ms, Oreos, PB&Js... I could get used to this! By mile 6 we felt famished and took serious advantage of the smorgasbord in front of us. And we also clocked a 19-mile mile thanks to that feast.

Still climbing among the Redwoods.


Slowest 10.22 miler ever! I guess the course was rolotaped-certified to be 10.6 miles and my Garmin doesn't account for some of the distance gained during elevation, so this would put our pace at 12:37.
Slowest race ever.

Kabri (4th AG!), Court, & me after that grueling event.
Overall, trail running is still not quite my cup of tea, but this race was eye-opening. I realized very quickly where I am physically weak. My arches throbbed on the uphill, my left Achilles ached on the downhill, my ankles and knees felt wobbly the entire time, and my quads turned to jelly 3/4th of the way through. None of these pains I would normally feel on the road, and I hope to do more trail running in the future to naturally strengthen these areas.

I truly loved the scenery during this race. Running on the road doesn't usually give runners such humbling and awe-inspiring views, and that was a definite treat. I enjoyed being out in the woods, muddying up my shoes, slowing down my pace, and being out of the City and in nature.

But most of all, I loved the laid-back feel of this race and how encouraging and supportive the racers and the support crew were. I mean, any race director who calls a 10.6-mile race an 11-miler is automatically cool in my book! I can see myself signing up for more trail races in the future simply because it was nice to get away from the pace-driven competition I so frequently see in the road-running world.

And I have a newfound respect for all you trail runners. You're a bunch of GD bad asses.


Official time: 10.6 miles/2:13:29/12:37 avg pace

Garmin time: 10.22 miles/2:13:29/13:03 avg pace
1: 12:19
2: 12:15
3: 12:02
4: 16:18
5: 14:38
6: 18:46
7: 12:28
8: 10:31
9: 12:56
10: 9:28
.22/.6: 8:19 avg pace


  1. Nice race A! Just wait ... trail running gets in your blood and soon you will be longing for the scenery and the terrain ;-)

  2. Ooof, that mountain looks...umm tough! nice job lady!

  3. I am not a fan of trail running. I think that it is something everyone should at least try, but it isn't for me. I guess I am not a very good "multi tasker" when it comes to trail runs and usually twist my ankle a couple of times because I am not paying attention to the trail. Ooops.

  4. I LOVE THIS AND AM SO GLAD YOU RAN!!!! Yes that was meant in all caps <3

  5. Very cool experience for you! I have only dabbled into trail running, but know I want to do more. Glad you ventured out to do it!

  6. YEESH! That looks and sounds insane! And there are people that do that crap all the time! ON PURPOSE!

  7. Enjoyed meeting with you girls at the top after the crazy uphill climb! Don't you think that you feel like you're running alot faster what was shown on garmi at the downhill portion?? What an experience!!!

  8. Nice job, A! Trails are way more tough than pavement, that's for sure!

  9. Looks like a great race. I need to do a trail run this year.

  10. YAY!!!!!!!! Thank you soooooo much for running with me. I had so much fun!!!!!!!

    (i say that now after completely blocking miles 3 through 6 out of my head)

    I am totally down with the trailz yo. Pretty much ones that start downhill... keep going downhill... and then finish on a downhill! YEAH! Those are rad.

  11. I'm so glad you caved into peer pressure! I'm glad we got to experience this whole trail thing together. I think we just opened the door to new adventures that await us!

  12. More trail running!? Hope I'm able to lure you over here for one or two runs :) Sounds like quite the experience you all had!

  13. Who doesn't love a 19 minute mile??? I ran on a trail up a mountain in Colorado this summer and it nearly ended me...

  14. I totally agree with you -- I suck royally at trail running. I know it's good for me (especially those hills and the varied terrain), but I hate the fact that I'm constantly staring at the ground to make sure I don't trip over something and twist my ankle or fall in a hole or crash down the side of a mountain.

    Yet I still kind of like being out there. I'm not good at it, but something about it is enjoyable. Maybe it's the smell of dirt?

  15. Nice job. I'm still not convinced.