Even though I had planned to run this race, it took me until earlier this week to actually commit to running in the Knickerbocker Canyon Trail Race. This was my first race of the season and my first trail race since I decided to become a trail runner this year. I’ve only run two 5k trail races in the past and high school cross country races, many, many moons ago. So, I was feeling very nervous going into the race. I was nervous because I didn’t know the course, I didn’t know how to pace myself on the terrain, I didn’t know my competition (turns out I did know my competitor), and I knew there was one heck of a climb (I like challenges)! Even with all that doubt, I chose to run this.
I arrived with enough time to warm up and empty my bladder about 20 times (I was really nervous!) It was pretty cold with a slight breeze. I wasn’t sure if I should wear leggings or shorts. I opted for shorts and was glad. I arrived with 3 layers on top and could only peel off 1 layer before the race started. It usually takes me a mile or 2 to warm up and I don’t like being cold so I chose to keep the long sleeves on and then tie them around my waist. I know, not the best, but it worked.
I spoke with another gal and quickly figured out that I still had the competitive edge that I was hoping to tame this year. I don’t think there’s a chance of taming it! Anyway, she was recovering from an injury and was out there to have, “fun.” She admitted that this was a hard concept for her. Yep, I completely understood. I thought about it and decided the truth is that I love running. I have fun during my training runs. But, something changes when I sign up for a race. I don’t race for, “fun.” That entry bib is my ticket to the pain train. I am going to leave it all out on the course. And chances are, it’s not going to feel good. I work hard and that’s how I race.
We started and I was shocked at the pace. I looked at my watch and we were flying at a 7ish pace. Ok, I can hang with this, but it’s fast. I knew that we were going to go fast the first 3.5 miles and then basically jike (jog/hike) the climb for a mile and then work hard the last 2+ miles to the end. What I didn’t know is how fast we were going to descend. I was pleasantly surprised at how fast my legs could maneuver the trail. We were quickly hopping over rocks, avoiding ditches, crossing low streams, staying clear of horse poop, and more. I was amazed at the pace we kept while doing all of this.
The one aid station for the 10k was at the bottom of the descent right before we started to climb. I quickly grabbed a cup of water and I was on my way. I had been the second woman up until that point. However, I finished drinking and left first. For about 5 minutes I was in the lead. When we hit the start of the steep, steep climb, my competitor passed me. I tried to catch her, but she was fast on the hills. These hills were almost unwalkable. During the ascent of “Training Hill” also known as K2, we climbed 1000 feet in a mile…….no joke! This is definitely the steepest hill I have ever attempted to run. We were all walking (shuffling, jogging) it the fastest we could, trying to get a few running steps in on each of the 5 little plateaus. Just in case you don’t believe me, here is an elevation map.
By the time I reached the top, my legs felt like jello. I knew I needed to stay strong for the last 2+ miles, but I needed to watch my step even more closely. My legs were not responding to the rocks, roots, etc. as quickly as before. I didn’t want to trip.
I rounded a corner and realized we were close to the finish line. I could see the gal in front of me, but I couldn’t catch her. She finished about 1 minute in front of me. I feel like I gave it my all and I had fun while working my butt off!
Here are the results:
The course was very well marked and I was able to find my way out! I was impressed with the after race food spread they provided us with. I will definitely race another event organized by Inside Trail Racing. It just happens that their next race is in Folsom next month. I look forward to it!