I’ve done half marathons before without training, so how hard could a 10k trail run be?
This is what I told myself when I received an email about the REI run series on March 4th. I immediately imagined myself skipping through fields of green and singing a top a mountain like Julia Andrews in The Sound of Music while wearing a matronly dress. Totally NBD. Ok scratch the matronly dress, more like trail sneakers and Nike Dri-Fit everythings. When I signed up, it was a flurry of all these wonderful feelings paired with setting a new intermediate goal to start training for. The other great thing I’ve started to learn from all these running adventures is how much I enjoy getting to explore new beautiful locations in the Bay Area.
A week before this first ever 10k, I started to freak out. I had run no more than 3 miles in training, and mostly on the treadmill. Quickly pivoted and decided to fabricate an ad hoc one week training plan, alternating days and miles. 3mi, 1mi, 5mi, 2mi, Race Day.
Unfortunately for me I didn’t real stick to this plan and only made it up to 3 miles before calling it quits, in favor of lounging in front of the TV binge watching House of Cards and Fuller House.
Morning of, I snoozed my alarm 6x before popping up and putting on race clothes I picked out the night before. Headed to the kitchen and had a sip of water along with a Lara Bar (Peanut Butter Cookie is my jam), before getting into the car. I hadn’t studied where the race location was, other than knowing it was in Palo Alto and it normally takes about 30 minutes to get to Palo Alto.
The Open Space Preserve in Palo Alto is high in the mountains and there were many an s-curve to be navigated to get there. Yikes! GPS estimated this would be 45 minutes, which meant I would arrive just at the 8am start time. Re-reading the confirmation email, it detailed how the distance from the parking lot to the start of the race course was a 15 minute walk and they would close off the onsite bib distribution promptly at 7:55am.
I had a time deficit. Crap. But wait, I’m pro at time deficits! I.e. I’m always late for social gatherings. My go to when this happens is… I’m a really speedy driver. Er. I mean I navigate traffic and roads really efficiently. Yes that’s it.
Several swear words and passing by god awful Priuses later…
I’ve arrived JUST in time to get my bib, use the bathroom, and have a bit of water before it’s time to go. Put in my headphones as the race bell sounds, today I’d be listening to Reply All. Or at least that’s what I thought I’d be listening to as I forgot to charge my headphones the night before. This was all becoming a very fail-tastic morning.
Stupidly I decided to try to run up the first hill while other people walked. By the time I was the top I was basically heaving and had to walk even more as people took off downhill. This is where I lost most of the pack for the 10k and stayed with one lady and a man with a headband throughout the rest of the race. Water stations were about every 1.5 miles, and I made sure to take a small cup and a pack of gummi stingers, even though they sucked all the water out of my mouth. Note to self for next time: Eat stingers before drinking water not after.
But the views, oh the views.
Once I got my breath back in order I fell back into my pattern of sprint and recovery for the flats and uphills. During the downhills I let my stride lengthen and passed several people around me. At roughly 4.5 miles there was the final water station, but I underestimated the distance to the finish and decided to forgo a break here. Soon after there was the giant hill that we started with and I took pause. And by that I mean I actually stopped and considered not continuing on. My legs were starting to cramp from all the steep uphills that I never trained for and I was starting to feel the dehydration come on from skipping over that last water station.
Giving up lingered in my mind, but then I watched a couple in front of me and as the man trudged ahead up this stupid stupid hill, I saw the girl (dressed fully in pink) brighten up and race upwards to catch up with him and playfully tap him on the shoulder.
Eavesdropping on that sweet moment gave me the spirit to press on, and I continued pushing my arms on top of my legs to force them forward. Once atop the hill I went back into my routine of charging downwards. I ended up smiling as I passed this couple running downhill and finished the race. Hooray!
Got lost walking to my car and my legs cramped severely driving back down the s-curves that had seemed so easily maneuverable on fresh legs. Afterwards, was feeling a bit down about my per mile pace but Steve cheered me up on Strava:
“Still though! That distance + hills is nothing to shake a stick at!”
Thank you, I needed that 🙂
Days till Marathon: 148
Mileage: 6.7 miles
Max Elevation Gain: 1367 ft
Met Along The Way: Pink Playful Lady