One of my goals this year was to step outside of my comfort zone and run a trail race. I always heard great things about the 5 Peaks series so I signed up for the Albion Hills Enduro course (12.6km) on Saturday. I honestly had no idea what to expect as I have never really run on a trail before. Actually, I did run 20 miles with Emily during her 100 miler back in January…but it was way different.
One great thing about trail races is that they start later in the morning. It was kind of nice to eat breakfast at a normal time and let it digest before starting to run at 10am. I still got there super early because I always have anxiety about getting lost and finding parking. Albion Hills is about 45 minutes away from home and I am directionally challenged but I managed to get there without making any wrong turns. I ate two cups of dry Love Grown O’s on my drive (it’s the only thing I can eat before races these days) and drank water while I waited for familiar faces to arrive. My friend/coworker Carm was running the Sport distance (6.3km) as his first EVER race so it was really exciting to be there and see him experience it. I am slowly turning all my friends into runners…muahaha.
Anyway, Carm showed up a few minutes after me so we just chatted, got our bibs, used the porta potty, talked about how nervous we were, applied bug spray, got our post-race water bottles ready, chatted with Elyse and Jess, and before we knew it…it was time to line up in our waves. We were told to place ourselves based on how fast we run a comfortable 5k so we both went to the front of wave 3 (24-29 minutes) which I think was a good choice for my first trail race. Thinking back, I may have been fine in wave 2 but I didn’t want to piss off any runners by being too slow (most of the course was a single track).
I was mostly nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and holy geez…I had my work cut out for me. The race started on a hill so I was out of breath immediately and I felt like it took me a little while to get everything in check. The course wasn’t super technical but it definitely had hills (probably why it’s called Albion HILLS), lots of sharp turns, tree roots that like to jump out at you, and a few sections that were quite rocky. There were moments where I knew running wasn’t even an option. Some hills just weren’t worth wasting my energy on – I knew I could walk quickly to the top and then continue running when it flattened out a bit. I observed some people who tried running the hills and I ended up passing a lot of them because by the time they got to the top, they were completely spent. It took a while, but I learned how to reserve my energy and use it wisely. I also walked in some spots that were super rocky to avoid falling on my face. I witnessed way too many accidents and close calls so my goal was to finish without falling/hurting myself/breaking my face.
(though I almost snapped my ankle when I landed after this jump)
I almost dropped down to the Sport distance, which was easy enough to do as it was one loop and the Enduro distance was two. It was starting to get really hot and humid…plus it was pretty tempting to veer off to the finish line after completing the first loop. Everyone was cheering and there was WATER. I didn’t think I’d be able to run the loop a second time. I’m a bit dramatic, I know. With that being said, I am SO GLAD that I ran the full Enduro distance. Running the loop a second time felt so much easier than the first. I don’t know if I enjoyed it more because I knew exactly what to expect or because I was basically running alone the whole time and felt like a total badass whipping around trees.
I finished in 1:26:12, running a 6:51/km average (11:00/mile). I thought about not wearing my watch because I didn’t want to stress about pace even though I knew running on the trail would be much, much slower than running on the road. I honestly think I looked at my watch 2-3 times, just to check my distance. I didn’t care how fast I was going as I was more concerned with running smart and having a great time. Mission accomplished.
The best parts about the finish line included seeing how proud Carm was after finishing his first race, drinking ice cold water, getting hugs from Jess, changing into a dry shirt and flip flops, and eating CANDY. Why don’t all races have candy?!?!
I loved everything about this race and am thinking of signing up for the last one of the 5 Peaks series in September. The energy and vibes of a trail race are so different from a road race, though I do love them both! It was just a nice change to be in a more relaxed environment with less people (137 Enduro finishers, 262 Sport finishers).
Since I raced on Saturday, I woke up a bit more sore than I expected yesterday so I decided to postpone my long run until today. Last week was a “recovery” week so it looked like this:
Tuesday: 7 miles @ 8:39
Wednesday: 3.1 miles @ 8:40
Thursday: 8 miles @ 8:34
Saturday: RACE DAY – 12.6km // 7.87 miles
Sunday: OFF (postponed long run!)
Total: 25.97 miles
A little over two weeks and then I’m off to Vancouver for SeaWheeze! This whole running/racing thing is pretty great.
Hope you had a great weekend and if you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, DO IT. Ends Wednesday.