My life has endless blank pages…

While still vacationing (and stuffing my face) in Europe last month, I decided it would be a good idea to try to get in another race when I got back to California, before I moved to Virginia. Bad part: I got back to California late on September 6th after 23 hours of traveling, add a couple days of jet lag and I’d be ok by September 9. I already had plans to visit family in San Jose September 9-12, and I left for Virginia early on September 20th. That only left 7 days to run a race – eek!

I found a race 2 exits from my parents on September 15, woo! I quickly signed up for the race – 1/2 distance – not thinking about the lack of running I had done during the 4.5 weeks I was in Europe (plus the eating!) and the fact that it was a trail race, something I’d never done. Needless to say I had NO idea what I was getting myself into!

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I set out everything the night before like I always do, to make sure I don’t forget anything, and crossed my fingers that I’d be able to get a decent night sleep. Not so easy when you live down the street from a high school, on a Friday night during the fall when it’s football season!

I woke up bright and early and headed to the lake (start). Oh man, just staring at the hills close-up was enough to scare me! Not to mention the fact that just under 40 people were registered for the 1/2 and not everyone had shown up. I had only run road races, where your constantly surrounded by a million other runners and your race bib is in the thousands. The smallest at that point was about 600 people. My race bib number for today’s race? 12. Yes, you read that right, one two. I just hoped I wouldn’t be last!

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It was about 65* at the start and the hills started just after mile 1. The elevation went from flat at mile 1 to 950ft at mile 3. WHAAAAAAAA. Death. Miles 1.5-4.5 were a snot-fest; no idea what was going on but it was slightly tragic. So glad I decided to bring a really small towel to carry my water bottle. It saved me. TMI, sorry guys! Woes of a runner, I know.

After mile 7 I was dead. Literally. Note to readers: don’t ever sign up for a trail run with uphill switchbacks/ridiculous hills when you’re out of shape. My legs were jello. I had to walk the steep parts. On the downhills, my jello legs seemed to flail about like I had no control over my body. It was 80*; I was exhausted, overheated, almost out of liquids and just done. I wanted to sit down at mile 8.5. I stopped, stretched my hips out, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and kept going. From that point on, I ran what my body would allow and walked when I needed to.

You have no idea how happy I was to see that finish chute. Yes they were beginning to clean up. No I wasn’t the last one to finish. WIN! in my book 🙂

20120915-213342.jpg Dirty shoes, dirty socks, dirty feet/legs/face/neck.

I have never had to work so hard, dig so deep, walk so much during race, all for my slowest 1/2 marathon time ever. It took everything I had both physically and mentally to finish. But it was the most amazing feeling I have ever had after a finish, despite being 23 minutes slower than my slowest 1/2 to date.

20120915-214434.jpg The waiter took one look at my disheveled self and brought me an extra large glass AND a pitcher of water. Musta been pretty ragged looking!

Moral of the story: dig deep. When things are tough, find the mental clarity you need to tell yourself that you’re fabulous, fit and fearless, and can accomplish your goals!

1. What has been your toughest race? How did you get through it?

2. Any trail runners out there? I bow down to you! Trails are no joke! Is it hard to be out there on your own, or do you prefer the solitude?

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Comments on: "First trail race under my belt!" (11)

  1. Fantastic! Your first trail race will be your slowest because there is no getting around #1) the fact that you have to pay attention and slow down to not trip or fall, and #2) if it’s a decent trail, everyone at least stops to power hike portions of it, if not stops altogether. it’s expected.

    My first trail race was the SoCal Wine Country Women’s Trail Half Marathon (longest name ever) and I was slow and I walked but I LOVED being out in nature. It kicked my butt for sure. I have plans to do more trail events.

    • Exactly! There was a lot of power hiking and screaming calves going on!

      I almost did the SoCal Wine Trail 1/2 but they sold out before I could register 😦

  2. I love running trails and I’ve learned to appreciate being alone. My life is so hectic at times, it’s actually become a treat for me to be out there. No traffic, no music, no people wondering who what when where how or why. Simply me and my experiences. I’ve actually started doing ultra trail runs so I’ve done 3 race around 30 miles…it’s an all day hike! Seriously though, I hope you did enjoy it and will try it again. Great recap and the water picture made me laugh. You seem so blissful!

    • Julie, I definitely plan to do another.

      The solitude was a nice change to how hectic my life has been. I was traveling in Europe for 4.5 weeks (still need to do a photo post!) and was living out of a suitcase, lugging a suitcase and backpack from town to town and train to train. I needed a quiet moment and this was just it!

  3. Congratulations on finishing the race! Trail running is tough, I haven’t done a trail race yet but I plan to next year. My husband and I try to run on trails every once in awhile to break up our runs.

    My toughest race was probably the half marathon I ran in March when it was 85 degrees outside! Not typical Western New York weather that time of year, so I was definitely not used to those conditions. It was tough but I made it through.

  4. That sounds like a fun race! Way to go for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new!

    My toughest race was about 5 years ago (I’m not so much of a runner anymore) when I participated in the Gate River Run in my hometown Jacksonville, FL. It was a 15k and was my first year of running, I really had to dig deep to run over a huge bridge in high winds to finish out the last leg of the race. But boy what an amazing feeling!!

  5. Wow! Good for you… I do some trail running but mine are mostly flat!

  6. p.s. Wanna trade follows? I just signed up to get your posts by email.

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