My first trail race was a half marathon. Yes, chocolate was involved. Of course. My next trail race? A 5k. Kind of on a whim, the day after a long run, mostly because it was a beautiful day.
The next year I was getting close to my 18 mile road race, and I didn’t want to do a trail race so close to that race; there also was no longer a 5k option.
This year there are no big goal races on the horizon. Yet. The weather was beautiful again. Another friend would also be there. I signed up. I’ve been running trails here and there all summer with friends, but not really a lot — rarely more than once a week, and not every week.
Getting There & Hanging Out
It’s a bit over 30 minutes to get to Thatcher Park so I arrived at 7:30, an hour before the race. I parked, grabbed my bag, thanked the weather Gods for the beautiful weather, and started walking over to packet pick up, just a short distance away. I chatted with a couple of runners doing the 50k (30 mile) option.
I quickly ran into someone I knew by the bathrooms, but she had just finished with them and I needed to use them. We chatted a bit before parting ways. I picked up my packet, which included my parking ticket (it’s $6 to park), and then had to walk back to the car to put the parking ticket in the car.
I left my bag in the pavilion, which is one of the things I love about this race, that you don’t have to continually go back and forth to your car if you have stuff you need with you before the race, although there is no official bag drop because it’s a pretty low key race, as trail races tend to be.
I ran into another friend, a fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador, but I was waiting on a third friend (another Skirt Sports Ambassador). We were just about to take our selfie when she finally appeared so we were able to get the three of us together.
I’d downloaded a mediation and something to listen to as I walked around before the race, knowing I’d be there early as usual, but I actually never had time.
The weather & dressing
There was a lot of hot, humid weather lately, but the morning started out a cool mid 50F temp, so I really waffled on what to wear. The park is also a higher elevation, so it’s always cool there.
I chose Skirt Sports Supergirl Tank and Lioness Skirt. I really debated about wearing the long sleeve Cool It Top, since that’s what I’ve been running trails in all summer. I needed the extra pockets in my Supergirl Tank for my water bottles, though.
I had never worn the Lioness Skirt for a race, or anything much over 4 miles. I’d never worn that particular Lioness Skirt, either. Turned out it was the perfect outfit for me, for this day, for this race.
My Race Plan
2 simple goals:
- Don’t fall
So how’d that work for me?
- Mile 1: 12:15. Significantly faster than the first mile of the 5k two years ago, and basically the same route.
- Mile 2: 18:44. Significantly slower than the second mile of the 5k two years ago. My bad for not looking at the elevation chart. I thought it would be somewhat flat like the 5k. It was not. The largest hill in the 5k was 66 ft. This mile had a hill that was 154 ft — which I know doesn’t sound like much, but throw in lots of rocks, roots, and mud, and it was tough! I ran with one of my Skirt Sports Ambassdor friends here for a while, but eventually she took off. I decided right here to make it a fun run and I stopped to take a lot of photos.
- Mile 3: 16:07. I believe this is where my friend caught up with me; she’d started slightly behind me, but she was racing. Although she agreed to stop and take a photo at Hang Glide Cliff here. This was an out and back to Hang Glide Cliff, and it seemed to go on forever.
- Mile 4: 14:05. This was a relatively flat mile (only a 66 ft hill, LOL!), with some wider paths, but still plenty of mud, rocks, and roots. It wasn’t really a super muddy race, but there were plenty of mud pits to go around — or through, I’m guessing, if you’re really into trails. We mostly went around.
- Mile 5: 14:42. This mile had a fairly good net drop, and yet we slowed down. Not sure why. Probably because we were getting tired! We traded on and off being in front. There was also some very narrow single track here.
- Mile 6: 12:03. Headed back to the finish, mostly just grass, so I was able to pick up some speed. It might have been faster if I hadn’t kept going in the wrong direction towards the very end (luckily my friend kept correcting me).
- Last .33: 10:53. Sort of sprinting to the end.
1:31:37 — Official Time
14:45 Average Pace
76 out of 82
Was the race well run?
If you’re into trail running, this is an awesome little festival. There are four distances:
- Half Marathon
The first time I ran the 5k I also volunteered after — there’s a really nice spread at the aid stations. They ask you when you register what your projected finish time is. This was my first trail 10k (although not my first trail race), so I took a guess and was almost right — considering I wasn’t expecting so many hills, I guess I guessed well.
I don’t know why they want to know your estimated finish time. Since there are people running anywhere from 10k to 50k, the 10k runners can take their time if they want to. One woman did, indeed, walk it — slowly, but she is older than me and coming back from battling Lyme disease. My hat’s off to her! She always volunteers at races, too.
All the races start together. The first half marathoner finished just shortly after my friend and I finished the 10k . . . The trails are extremely well marked — there are some long distances where you won’t see any flags, but seriously, I didn’t go wrong until the very end (apparently I did something similar at the 5k, too).
You used to get socks; this year we got a picnic blanket that folds up into its own little case. Personally I prefer the socks, because they’re useful (although not really as running socks, but I often wear them in the fall when walking the dogs).
There’s a really nice spread afterwards, too. I stayed this year, since I had some friends to hang out with. All sorts of different sandwiches (including vegetarian and vegan options). Chips, fruit, bread, peanut butter (some of that also available for pre-race fueling). This year there was a cake from Bountiful Bread, one of the sponsors, and it was worth every calorific bite — even if I only ran 10k!
I wouldn’t run this race in bad weather, but I’ve been blessed with great weather the two times I have run it. I wasn’t that inspired by the 5k course, but I have to say that even though the 10k was much tougher, it was also much more scenic. It’s a pretty park and there were runners who came from my home town, over an hour away — it’s worth it, I promise you!
There are more trail races here around Halloween — I’ve always wanted to do one of them, but the weather is almost always bad. I’m a fair weather trail runner (except for my trail half, which was in WA state and drizzling and cool for most of the race). Maybe 2019 will be the year for the Squirrely Six!