I love using trail races as training runs. Not only do you have the fun race atmosphere, but the courses are marked and supported. It’s a great way to get to know new trails and practice race day fueling, since you have all the great aid stations along the way.
I was even more excited for this race because it was my first one since April! I have missed the supportive, laid back nature of trail races, and was so excited to be out there again. On top of that, a bunch of the bay area girls were going to be there!
Alyssa spent the night at my house the night before where we loaded up on pizza and watched Unbreakable with Cate. I cannot get enough of that movie and always watch it before trail races. Our alarms were set for 6am, which actually was sleeping in for me lately. We got up and were out the door by 7am and at the start by 7:30 for the 8:30 start. It was a cool, foggy morning in Oakland which I was very much looking forward to running in.
We met up with Katie, Jana, Kristen, and Jessica before the race. I didn’t really have a plan at all for this race. I knew the course was going to be tough since I ran it a couple weeks ago, but I just wanted to have fun reminding myself that I had to run long the next day too.
Knowing the course, I tried to get as close to the front as I was comfortable with because I knew it was going to get pretty tight on the trails pretty quick. After we made the first little climb I turned around and started looking for my friends and Jess was right there. We talked a little bit but continued to work getting up the hills. After that we settled into a pace next to each other and just kept on running.
We got to the first aid station a couple miles later and Jana was right behind us! We grabbed some quick fuel and were off, on our way to the French Trail in Redwood Park. I love this trail, but it’s tough. Very technical with a lot of rocks and roots, but it’s all lush underneath towering redwoods. There were lots of steep descents and some steep climbs, but we kept on charging along.
Eventually we came out of the tree covered single track to the next aid station. I took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich square – which was my first “real food” fuel in a while! I have to start getting my stomach used to real food during runs again and this was the perfect time to start. I was continue to fuel with Shot Bloks every couple miles, a salt cap every hour and lots of water.
After the aid station, we started a big climb back up and over what we had just come down. Jess and I continued to run together and Jana had gone ahead. It was fun to have someone to run with! We just kept on running enjoying the beautiful trails and the miles were ticking off.
Around mile 12 we were at the last aid station (which was also the 1st one) and we both took a cup of soda. I had forgotten how much I love drinking soda during runs, it was so good! We continued on with just over 3 miles to go, which included a technical decent and a fun single track loop with a steep climb.
Then we were running back into the meadow where we started with the finish line ahead. We heard Katie and Jana cheering us on and we crossed the finish line together.
Garmin: 15.5 miles/3:03:34/11:50 avg pace/3,056’ gain
Age Group: 9/39
We saw Alyssa running in shortly after with a huge smile on her face which made me so, so happy. We all chatted for a few minutes, grabbed some food, then headed back home.
Once again Inside Trails put on a great event. Very well organized, well marked, and well supported with amazing volunteers. I am signing up for a bunch of their races during my training the next few months! Hopefully I can continue to have a bunch of friends join me, because that makes them even better.