Last Sunday, before the rains began, I ran my first 10k trail run. I’ve run other 10k races before. And other trail runs. But never a combination of the two. The race was in Caspers Wilderness Park, a park that I’ve hiked and camped in before, and was part of the Orangeman Running Series. Less than 100 people participated in the race – half were running the 5k route and half were running the 10k route. My only timing goal was to finish in under an hour. I was so naive.
The first .8 mile was on a single track trail through the forest and then up, what can only be described, as a big ass hill. Now, it typically takes me up to four miles to really get into a running groove. So the first part of the race was rough on me. Plus, I was totally stressed being on a single track. I couldn’t pass anyone (not that I really wanted to!) and no one could pass me. What if I was holding people up? Ah! Also, to get up the hill, you had to run (again, on the single track) through tight switchbacks, around boulders, and over eroded dirt and sand. Every time I thought I was at the top, I’d make another turn and realize that I still had further to go. I finally made it to the ridge and passed the one mile marker at just over 14 minutes. Say what?! That just proves how killer that first hill really was. After seeing my first mile split, I knew that there was no way that I was going to finish the race in under an hour, so I tried to focus more on enjoying the beautiful scenery, while still pushing hard to maintain a consistent pace.
Running on the ridge was easy – well, any hill after that first hill seemed easy. Until I got to the second giant hill, that is… Anyway, I got into a grove where I was running a more normal 9-10 minute pace and I was also making friends with the other women running near me. I love runners. In general, most people who enjoy participating in outdoor activities (hiking, camping, running, whatever), are awesome people – nice, friendly, cheerful.
The second giant hill was between miles four and five. It was big. It was long. Only a totally super person could have run up it. I am not that person. Everyone around me was doing their best just to walk up the hill; running wasn’t even an option for us. Once I made it to the second ridge, though, it was easy from there on out – a jaunt across the ridge, and then a single track trail down to the finish line, which I crossed in 1:09:57. Oh, yeah, the race’s winner was a 14 year old boy. And I narrowly beat a 70 year old man who was running near me for part of the race. So I guess I’m waaaay slower than a 14 year old, but just slightly faster than a 70 year old. That seems about right.