Trail Hog Half-Marathon: Comin’ Round to the Mountains

After completing two 10Ks on the trails in the past two months, and a little nudge from the coach to look up a half-marathon for September, we decided to step it up a notch. His race-searching skills are not to be messed with..

Of course my naive logic assumed that since that I’m trained beyond what I need for 13.1 miles, this should be no big thang! The plan was to race, not just run. Yep, I can do that, too!  The elevation chart didn’t look too bad, I mean, as far as trail races go….

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As you can see, things started off really well! And by well, I mean quickly going from a run to a walk, to an uphill crawl, to sweet relief that at least the worst incline was already done.

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Once we finally got through the first few miles, and my ego was dust-covered but not yet destroyed, it was pretty smooth sailing. The first aid station greeted us right after mile 2. Usually I stick with my own water, but this day was already proving to be a no-messing-around adventure, so I happily took a big cup of icy H2O.

There was a 4.5 mile gap between this and the next life elixir.

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The half-marathon runners started 15 minutes before the 10k and 30 minutes before the 5K, but our loops mixed with theirs at one point. This is the biggest trail race we’ve run in California so far, which meant I finally got to enjoy the company and competition of fellow runners for most of the course (vs. just the beginning and/or end)!

We passed mile marker 5 / 12 and then 6 / 13, and I thought well at least I know exactly how the last 1.5 miles look! Then we split. As everyone else headed toward the Finish line, we turned to complete the next 6+ miles

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I spent most of the last half chasing, passing and then getting passed by the same handful of athletes. We all had different strengths on the course, and likely a few different goals (as it goes), but a similar stamina. I took advantage of every aid station, rationing my water and opting for the “Sports Mix!” for a little boost of electrolytes and flavor.

The hills throughout this last loop threw me off. ‘Scuse me, sirs, but according to that chart you should be shorter and less abrasive!  I assure you no hill feels short or friendly at this point, and I repeatedly tried to run up, only to stop, walk, and conserve the little energy + heart-capacity left. As the incline begins to soften and you can see it flatten out, that’s when I make the legs run again. There is no wasting a flat section, or adding any more time than is absolutely necessary between me and brunch!

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What I kept telling myself: the stretch between miles 12 – 13 isn’t too bad, you’ve already run it, you know what to expect!

What was actually true: by the time we actually hit those miles, and ran that stretch again, it all seemed different. The slight incline felt like a hill. The mile felt like two. The finish line couldn’t possible be close if my legs won’t move any faster than this.

That last picture is a shuffle up and around a corner; the mental battle script would read “move, food, brunch, water, move, food, MOVE”. The only reason I cared that I walked in the last half-mile is because once I slowed my momentum to get up the tiny inclines, it felt harder to walk than to run. So tricky, these trails!

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SWEET, SWEET, Finish Line. You never disappoint.

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13.4 miles – 2:08:43 – avg. 9:33 min/mile
2nd – F25-29
40th / 178 overall

There are a lot of great things about racing the trails vs. the roads, and high on that list is the food spread you see afterward. These athletes certainly know how to put the calories right back in with a buffet of sweet, salty and refreshing options – if you happen to leave a trail race hungry, that’s on you.

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Medals all around! Dan took 1st in his AG for his first trail 10K, and Mike snatched up 3rd in M30-35 along with 13th place overall. Fast dudes, unite!

As always, a huge thanks to the organizers and volunteers! Brazen Racing seems well-known in this ‘hood and put on a great event. We’ll be back!

Comments

  1. September 9, 2014

    Nice work, chica! That does look like a hard race and those hills are serious! Um, so here is the elevation profile of that half I’m doing at the end of Sept. Blah!!! http://insidetrail.com/wp-content/themes/insidetrail/course_elevations/Berkeley_Elevation.pdf

    I suppose I better go find a lot of hills to climb/shuffle up in the next few weeks. Or just give up now. 😉

    • September 9, 2014

      Ha, man I really wish I could come run that with you! It’s so close! Or, at least, relatively close. You’ll be okay – just throw in a few extra weight-lifting days and a hilly run or two between now & then. Although, I’m going to guess you need this week to recover, first!

  2. Sam
    September 9, 2014

    That’s exciting! I’ve always wanted to do a trail race. Do you wear different shoes or do you just wear the same shoes that you would wear on the road?

    • September 9, 2014

      Nope! I actually wear Mizuno’s Hayates – which I really love. They have just enough stability to keep me from rolling an ankle, but are flexible enough that my gait / normal running form doesn’t seem to change. I reviewed them here: http://goo.gl/oBtqi8

  3. September 10, 2014

    This looks so fun! (Hills are fun, right? Right.) I recently read an article about an ultramarathon, which left me scoping out potential races for next year. Apparently ultras tend to be on trails – adding challenge to the distance, of course. Loving these race reports.

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