Three weeks ago I ran my first 10K on snow-covered, narrow, insanely hilly trails. It was HARD! I survived that race but met none of my goals (except finishing) and came away from it hoping that I could learn from my trail 10K experience and be stronger at the next race.
The next race (aka my opportunity for trail redemption) arrived in the form of the Tyler Arboretum Trail 10K last Saturday morning. How did it go? Well, let’s look at it in terms of my goals from the previous 10K…
- Don’t walk. SUCCESS!
- Average better than 10:00/mile pace. SUCCESS!!
- Finish in under an hour (9:39 pace). SUCCESS!!!
I am so proud to share that I met ALL of my goals, finishing this fun, challenging trail race with a new PR time of 58:34… 12 1/2 minutes faster than my previous trail 10K! Here I am immediately after the race when I saw my time. Woohoo!
The 6.2 mile course wound around Tyler Arboretum, a private, 650-acre arboretum that borders Ridley Creek State Park. The course included many rolling hills, four stream crossings, and beautifully maintained, wide trails. I ran without music (unusual for me!) which gave me lots of time to think during the race. With that in mind, I’m going to split my recap into a series of observations that I made while running:
Trail Runners are really nice!
During my previous trail 10K I realized that no one around me was listening to music. Instead they were politely saying “on your left” when they passed me or “nice job!” when I passed them. Crazy! I felt like a total newbie with my iPhone and ear buds and quickly turned my music way down to better hear my fellow trail runners.
During the Tyler 10K I left my phone in the car and definitely enjoyed being able to hear all of the banter around me. Runners were chatting about hills, encouraging one another, and, when two runners fell right in front of me on a downhill stretch, checking to make sure that everyone was OK and able to proceed. Trail runners are NICE!!
I happily joined in on the occasional chit chat and had a nice exchange with an older guy who panted out “let’s go Pink, see you at the top!” as he passed me on a steep uphill climb.
I like stream crossings. A lot!
The Tyler 10K course included four stream crossings. Runners had three options: (1) be a superhuman and leap across the creek in a single bound, (2) slow down and tip-toe across some slippery rocks, or (3) run straight through the water. After a winter of running in snow, ice, and mud, I’m pretty accustomed to running with wet feet so I went into the race thinking that I would go with option 3… unless the rocks looked easy, in which case I’d try to stay dry as long as I could.
The first stream crossing felt like it came up really quickly and before I knew it I had already swerved around a few people who were slowing down to do the rock thing. I plowed through the water and emerged on the far bank, happy and wet.
I continued to splash through the remaining three stream crossings, simply choosing the path of least resistance. It was great fun! (For proof just look at my insanely happy expression in the photo above… who in their right mind looks that excited to get their feet wet??) 😉
Heart Rates and Hills, oh my!
I think of myself as a runner who likes, even embraces, hills. I do a lot of hill running in my neighborhood and on the trails at Okehocking Preserve and I know that even if I get really fatigued going up a hill I can usually recover quickly once the terrain levels out. Unfortunately my confidence took a big hit during the previous trail 10K when I had to slow to a walk SEVERAL times on hills, and I left that race thinking that a goal of “don’t walk” for a trail race might not be attainable for me.
With that backstory in mind, I went into Tyler hoping that I could make it up the hills without walking, but completely unsure about my ability to do so. When the first major hill loomed into view after the stream crossing I looked up and saw many people walking, but I also realized that I could actually see the crest of the hill and it didn’t look so bad! I jogged up the hill, passing a few walkers in the process, and recovered at the top. Hurrah!
I realize that there is a point at which it becomes more energy efficient to walk up a hill during a trail race. I’m not sure exactly where that point is for me, so I resorted to looking at my heart rate to help me determine how much effort was too much. I know that my max. heart rate during a 5K seems to be somewhere around 198-202 bpm and in a speed workout it’s not uncommon to finish each interval at around 190. I fixated on that 190 rate and checked my Garmin on uphill climbs to make sure that my heart rate stayed below that number. None of the hills were too crazy so it all worked out and I never had to walk!
I definitely have some room for improvement on downhills. I would love to be able to zoom down slopes like a mountain goat (or like many of my fellow competitors on Saturday), but I’m scared to really let myself go all out. I have enough trouble seeing rocks and roots under leaves on flat ground, much less as I’m flying down a hill. I figure that for now I’ll be satisfied with letting the speedy downhillers pass me on the descents and then I’ll pass them back on the climbs. 😉
I am really excited about Broad Street.
Many times during a hard 5K I’ve found myself thinking “Why do I race? Is this even fun? This is so HARD!” Of course, I always feel happy the moment a race ends, but my point is that racing is not always my favorite activity while the race is actually going on. So, imagine my surprise on Saturday when, at around the 4 mile mark, I found myself daydreaming about the Broad Street Run! Granted, I was thinking that I would hopefully feel better at the Broad Street 4 mile marker then I was feeling at that point during the trail 10K, but overall the idea of running another 5-6 miles on pavement really didn’t seem too bad. The 10 mile Broad Street Run is 20 days away and I am pumped!!!!
In the final half mile of the 10K there were two runners right in front of me: a man and a woman. I set my sights on the woman and slowly gained on her. As the finish line came into view I decided that I was definitely going to pass her (even though trail runners are really nice it’s still a race, after all!) and with a hundred yards to go I somehow started sprinting. I passed both runners and blasted across the finish line (Garmin says my pace was 4:13 at the end????!) before collapsing in a happy, tired heap.
All in all, the Tyler Trail 10K was a fantastic experience. I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was, I “unplugged” and enjoyed the runners, scenery, and the thoughts rambling around in my head, and I know for sure that I’m having a blast racing!
My next race will be with Matt! We’re running the Empower the Children 5K in Havertown, PA next Saturday. Then it’s on to Broad Street!!
Miles since last post: 78.4
Days since last post: 15
Avg. Daily Miles since 7/18/13: 4.84
2015 MILES: 486.3
• March ’15: Athlete’s Closet March 5K (3/7), St. Pat’s 5K (3/14), Granogue Trail 10K (3/21), Pickle Run #3 (3/28)
• February ’15: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/7), Pickle Trail Run #2 (2/21)
• January ’15: SRA New Year’s Day 5K (1/1), Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/3), Pickle Run #1 (1/17)
• December ’14: Jingle Elf 2 Mile (12/5), Brian’s Run 5 Miler (12/7), Athlete’s Closet Holiday 5K (12/14)
• November ’14: Trinity Berwyn 5K (11/1) [PR], Metal Run 5K (11/8), Seven Summits Turkey Trot (11/27)
• October ’14: Martin’s Run 5K (10/5), Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/18), Bark in the Park 5K (10/25)
• September ’14: Talk 5K Trail Run (9/13), Run A Muck Trail Race (9/20), Haverford Township 5K (9/27)
• August ’14: Riddlewood 5K (8/3), Radnor Red Steeplechase (8/17), Pickle in the Streets 5K (8/28) [PR]
• July ’14: Cam’s ‘Moonlight’ 5K (7/10), Swarthmore Independence Eve 8K (7/18)
• June ’14: Radnor Conservancy 5K Trail Run (6/1), Media 5 Miler (6/20)
• May ’14: Elwyn 5K (5/3), Run for Victory 5K (5/18) [PR], Rocky Run 5K Trail Run (5/30)
• April ’14: Las Vegas Security 5K (4/3/, Rick’s Run 5K (4/19), St. Tim’s 5K (4/26)
• March ’14: Athlete’s Closet March 5 Miler (3/1), Color Out Cancer 5K (3/30)
• February ’14: Athlete’s Closet February 5K (2/1)
• January ’14: Athlete’s Closet January 5K (1/4)
• December ’13: Athlete’s Closet December 5K (12/14), New Year’s Eve YMCA 5K (12/31) [PR]
• November ’13: Trinity Presbyterian 5K (11/2), Turkey Trot 5K (11/28)
• October ’13: Fueled Up & Fired Up 5K (10/19), Oy Vey 5K (10/27) [PR]
• September ’13: Run-a-Muck 5K (9/21)
• The Challenge Begins: 100 Mile iPad Mini Challenge (7/23/13)