Today I took part in the 10.4 mile Blood, Sweat and Beers trail run in Auburn, CA. I woke up ready to have a good day and just enjoy being outside on trails, on a nice day with a bunch of great people. Of course I always want to do my best but I wasn’t gunning to place, make any specific time cut or to be super aggressive. This was smart since um, I don’t run hills and this course was alllllll hills.
I got to the race site on time, used the bathrooms and warmed up. I needed to use the facilities again but ran out of time (this becomes important later). We lined up on the grass and took off! I fell into an easy rhythm and the course went downhill for about 3 miles. I rolled through the first 3 at a sub-8 pace. Oh well. I’ve always been an aggressive downhill runner on trails since I don’t get scared and run them pretty well. I chatted with a lady next to me and found a group of folks to run with.
I was having a great time and enjoyed the beautiful scenergy. The American River Canyon is just a great area and rich with trail running history. Once we began to hit the uphills I knew I was in a bit of trouble. I was breathing really hard and the legs were burning. So, I did some hiking on the uphills. I initially felt bad about it but everyone around me was as well so it was fine.
Around mile 4 I needed to use the restroom but obviously it’s trails and there were none to be found. So I had to bushwack through a bunch of star thistle in order to hide from the masses. This probably cost me 3 minutes or so. But in the spirit of “hey just have fun out there” I didn’t let it bug me.
I kept running hard when I could, running up the hills when I could and hiking when I had to. It started to get really warm and I was so, so glad I grabbed my water bottle. I filled it up 4-5 times throughout the entire race. I would have suffered big time without it. I took a gu at mile 5 (again, not something I’d normally do but I was SO happy to have it) and actually drank some gatorade (this just in, it still bugs my stomach).
There were a couple of moments when I was alone on the trail, looking into the canyon and stomping through the dirt when I just felt totally at home. I was so happy to be out there running in nature in the company of some really fun people and said to myself, “I think I’m a mountain girl in my heart.” Of course I’m also a city person, a beach person and a farmer in my heart… But today I was a mountain girl.
The end of the race was an out and back loop and it was a lot of fun to see the leaders on my way in there and other folks on the way back out. All the volunteers were so helpful and the race was incredibly organized with amazing, amazing volunteers.
Miles 9-10.4 were basically entirely uphill. I was starting to struggle toward the end and get tired when two VERY good looking gentlemen came up on me. With their um, encouragement I ran the last .75 miles at a good clip. Amazing what good looking guys can get you to do 🙂
I finished in 1:57 which is obviously way, way slow for 10 miles for me normally but given my lack of hill training and relative newbie-ness on the trails, I’m happy. Most importantly I had a blast out there. Once the race was over I found some teammates, indulged in a 10:30 am hamburger and beer (and diet coke and 3 bottles of water and STILL had to stop for water on my way home) and enjoyed the day. I hung out a little longer than necessary because the one beer was… enough to get me a little buzzed. So I had to wait it out!
Today was a perfect reminder to me of why we do what we do. It’s been a long time since my legs actually hurt from running. I’m going to be so very sore. But I kind of love it. I’m kind of excited about it. It’s so easy to get in a rut and do the same things, the same workouts and the same routes all the time. Today I did something a little out of my comfort zone that hurt a bit and it was a blast. And it also has me thinking that an ultra could be in my future sooner rather than later. But that’s another topic…