While we’re less than half a mile to the coast here in Monterey, we happen to be spoiled by the West Coast’s tectonic genius and are also a short drive away from state parks, mountain ranges and endless trails for exploring.
He did some searching and quickly found us a local trail race – New Almaden Race at Quicksilver Park. We had a few weeks to adjust to the microclimates here – if it’s 65* in Monterey assume that it’s at least 80* in San Jose? Got it! – and prepare our muscles for the changing terrain. He contemplated signing up for the half-marathon option, until we looked up race times from last year and the winner of the 10k came in around 1:35.
The course is described as “hard with steep up and down hills”, oh, “ and is all exposed”. NOTED. We’ll start ‘small’ here in Cali. I figured the new Mizuno Hayates could handle all of the above – their first race-test. (We convinced Rachel to join us for her first trail race, too!)
It started early, at 7am, to keep the half + full marathons in cool temps for a little while. Six hundred feet of climbing in the first mile (slowest split of the day, rolling in at 13:42) will wake you up faster than any cup o’ joe! I started to do some math and assumed I’d be lucky to finish in 1:20, and decided to stick with that.
Mile 2 brought some reprieve-turned-quad-pounding with 400 ft of descent, offering little comfort on an out-and-back course. But at least this split resembled something similar to “running”, with a much faster 10:22. WHEW.
I didn’t see any runners on their way back until around mile 2.8, and started seriously wondering if I had somehow screwed up a very well-marked course. Luckily the leaders came up around the corner (hey, I know you!), followed by the only other person I saw before the half-way point aid station. Hm, I’m in fourth place….*
I stopped for a cup of water and friendly chit-chat with the volunteers at the aid station (mile 3.1) – I know with trail races they often have to check your number & make sure you’re still out there and moving. Starting up and out again, I learned the two runners closest to me were at least a quarter-mile back. New goal: keep it that way!
The actual goal was to run as much as I physically could. The ‘rule’ was that if I didn’t have to lean forward to get up a climb, I had to try to run. Sometimes walking was actually more efficient, but it’s easy to keep walking even once you’re over the crest because this is tough. The faster you get your legs ‘running’, once they can, the easier it is to motivate them to keep moving.
One hill I actually walked up backwards, in an attempt to save the calves and lower back some agony. One hill was so steep I walked down it, too.
There was one different turn on the way back that would save us a few ups and downs, easing up on the quads and hamstrings just a little bit. He was waiting at the 6-mile ‘mark’ (miles weren’t marked), ready to hop in and push me to the finish. You know, that annoying thing where a pacer runs just a few steps ahead of you when you’re exhausted and so close and like, REALLY dude?! , but you chase them anyway.
The Finish Line sprint was hardly that, but it felt good to go ‘fast’ on a relatively flat section and see that huge jug of cold water waiting for us!
New Almaden Quicksilver Park 10K
Top Female Finisher
(Small Race = Big rewards)
Huge thanks to the West Coast Trail Running Group for an excellent race, course & finisher’s food spread! We can’t wait to join you guys again soon!