Way back in April I coincidentally discovered a little piece of heart rate-training magic; do a long, ridiculous hike (read: the Incline) and reap major cardio rewards! I don’t fully understand the science quite yet, but what I do understand is loving a crazy-low heart rate on an easy run just days after spiking that thing WAY UP THERE while enjoying nature’s best playgrounds.
Obviously this a win-win situation, so we must pursue more of these!
Coach gave me the go-ahead to “race” 2-3 trail runs in August. If you’ve done a trail race, run or ‘leisurely hike’ of any kind, you’ll know it feels anything but relaxing to the muscles (heart included). But your mind is all kinds of distracted and at peace and happy because the world surrounding you is all kinds of wonderful.
Our first foray into northern California’s state parks set the bar high. We found an option for round 2 even closer to ‘home’ and hopped right on it! The Mizunos were pretty pumped to get dirty again.
Another run off of the flat pedestrian trail, another new state park, and another 10k challenge: check!
In an uncharacteristic move, I studied this chart well and good before heading to the starting line. Yes, there’s a nasty climb right between miles 1-2.5, but that sweet rolling descent at the end makes it all right. Another big feather in this race director’s (RD) hat is awarded because this was not an out-and-back. We only had to retrace a few steps (beginning/end), but otherwise followed an extremely well-marked loop around the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
Before we started, our RD gave the quick recap of what color flags to look for, where to turn, what to expect*, what to be on alert for and where to dash through the finish line. *On the list: steep climbs, single-tracking, a jaunt near the river and one along the ‘beach’.
Well, by “beach” he meant the section of the trail on top of that first climb. And “trail” is a term used lightly here – yes, there’s a section etched out for running, walking, mountain-biking, what-have-you, so sure it’s a “trail”. But it’s actually that deep, soft, can’t-find-your-footing sand you run on the beach for all of 30 seconds before calling it a day and listening to your calves call Mercy! and you’re like I KNOW, man. I hear ya! The kind of sand where you run, walk or crawl at the same pace. We ‘ran’ up, along and down that for just shy of a mile.
After this rare form of calf-torture, we were guided right onto a paved fire-road. So, at least there was that. On this, we had the pleasure of those serious drops, literally pounding the pavement and letting the legs turn over so fast I felt like there was good reason to have worn a helmet (maybe next time…).
Here I finally gained some ground on the gal who had passed me somewhere back in mile 2 where I stumbled up a sand-climb (kudos!). Luckily she was still ahead of me when there was a sharp left-turn off of the pavement and back on the trails – my strength is not attention-to-detail. She shot her arms out like an airplane and floated right onto our next adventure and I gratefully followed her. We went UP, and I kicked it in gear enough to make a move.
This new gear pushed me up far enough to finally catch up to two guys who had passed us way-back-when. I saw the “one mile to go” sign and thought alright, we know it’s ‘downhill’ from here. No more conservation, legs! Do it.
I passed both of them at a clip just under 7:30 min/mile and thought of that fresh watermelon waiting for me. Go, go , go!
This guy took 2nd overall (and AG), breaking the male course record and finishing almost 10 full minutes before me. Geeze, dudes!
52:58 – 10K (clocked in at only about 5.7 mi)
3rd AG (F 20-29), 4th Female OA
Thanks to Tim Stahler and the Inside Trail Running crew for an extremely well organized event! We couldn’t have had a better day under the Redwoods, and can’t wait to come back for another round!