Last week I joined DSE Runners, a San Francisco-based running group. They hold very inexpensive (like $3), mostly short-distanced races around the City almost every weekend.
I was scheduled to run 7-miles this weekend and had originally planned to run in the Golden Gate Park 10K that they held today. That is until Courtney tweeted about a Saturday trail race at Huddart Park.
Huddart Park is a large forested area about 20 minutes from my house. It’s comprised of a bunch of trails that connect to each other; it looks rather complicated (like Rancho San Antonio), and I had been hesitant to explore it on my own. So when I heard about this race, the Crystal Springs Trail Run (hosted by CTR), I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with this area!
The race offered a 50K, Marathon, 22-mile, 11-mile and 5-mile options. I registered for the 5-miler and then had to dig out my trail running shoes. I hadn’t used them since the Coyote Hills Half-Marathon a year ago!
It was a nice drive up to Woodside, but when I got to the park, I found a long line of cars waiting to enter (there was a $6 park entrance fee).
After I parked, I walked over to the Registration area to pick up my race packet. They handed me my bib and a t-shirt. Puzzled, I asked them where my timing chip was. They laughed and explained there was no timing chip! I liked the race already!
The 50K, Marathon and 22-mile races started first at 8:30 am. I saw Aron (who ran the 22-miler) just time to give her a hug before she was off and running. The next races didn’t start until 9:00 and 9:15 am, so I met up with Alyssa and Courtney, and met Kabri all of whom ran the 11-mile race.
When the 5-mile race was ready to begin, we gathered at the Start area (there was no “Start Line”) for some instructions and tips on how to navigate the trail. It was at that point that I got a little nervous. The thought of running through the forest was a bit scary and I was glad I had my phone with me in case I got lost.
The first .75th mile of course was single trail and downhill. I was a little stressed because:
1. I didn’t want to slip and fall.
2. I was paranoid that I was holding people up behind me.
I was extra cautious after seeing a few guys trip and almost fall. I thought to myself, “If this is how it is for the entire race, I’m in trouble.”
But after the first .75th mile, the trail opened up on to a wide fire road. I moved to the side and surprisingly, only a couple of people passed me.
The next 2.5 miles were all uphill. I did pretty well for the first mile or so, and then the inclines got steep and everyone around me (including me) began
walking hiking. I tried to keep walking to a minimum by running fartleks. I’d run in short bursts when it wasn’t so steep but then walk when it was.
I found myself behind a girl who seemed to be a pretty experienced trail runner. She was running about the same pace as me, so I drafted off of her and did whatever she did in terms of foot placement, passing others (I wasn’t sure what the proper etiquette was for this during trail races), etc. But around Mile 3 I lost her. I was so tired of climbing and I lost her on a walk break.
My legs were getting tired and I couldn’t believe that we were “only” at Mile 3. I called out anyone who was around me and asked, “How much more climbing do we have to do?” Turns out the lady in front of me was very familiar with Huddart Park and told me there wasn’t much more climbing left to do. We walked together, chatting with each other until we got to where the 5-mile course split from the 11-mile course.
At the split, the 5-mile course turned left, then it was all down hill from there. The lady and I ran together for about a quarter mile, then she wished me well and I broke off and ran to the finish.
Turns out the 5-mile course were actually 4.53 miles.
At the Finish Line, there were all kinds of snacks and drinks…
I had about 10 mini cinnamon rolls, did some stretching, then decided to drive to Seal Point (closer to home) to finish up the rest of the 7 miles I had scheduled.
So I went from running in the forest, to running along the Bay. As you can see, these 2.5 miles were much flatter.
I had hoped to do some strength training and run a few sets of stairs afterwards. I did 1 set of stairs then decided that my legs had done enough climbing and called it a day.
Technically, this wasn’t my first trail race, but I kinda feel like it was. It was definitely the most technical trail course that I’ve run on!
Trail races are a whole lot different from road racing, but I liked it and hope it won’t be another year until I wear these trail running shoes again!
It was really fun to try something different, and a great way to start the year!