Thursday, July 31, 2014

Conquering A Mountain

Yesterday I decided my foot and ankle felt well enough to try out an "easy" run.  I had it in my head that I wanted to run 6 miles but instead of running my usual route on our local coastal trail, I thought it'd be more fun to join The Treadmill's Hearbreak Hill Challenge (sponsored by Hoka One One and Nathan Sports).  'Cuz running up an 850 foot climb on trail is easy, right?!  I even convinced one of my co-workers to join me.

We got to The Treadmill where there was already a pretty large group milling around.  After signing in, I grabbed a pair of the Hoka Cliftons to try out for the run.  It wasn't too long before we found some of my Team In Training friends and started chatting.  We were all newbies to the course so we had no clue whatsoever what we were in for!

Smiling faces pre-run
Before long it was time for us to start our warm-up run to the base of "the mountain".  It was fun chatting with everyone and meeting new fellow running enthusiasts.  It was a quick one mile warm-up to the base of "The Mountain" and it went by quickly.  I had driven by that area so many times but had never even seen the trailhead! Shows how much I pay attention when I drive.
Definitely one of my new faves
Once everyone got to the base of the mountain we were all lined up based on our sign-up number (which was assigned as we arrived at The Treadmill).  Since it was supposed to be a timed run to see who would be King or Queen of the Mountain, we did a staggered start with 15 second intervals between each runner to get a more accurate finish time.

Lining up to run up and up and up!

I was one of the last ones to arrive at sign-up so I was the 30th runner (out of 31) but I was completely fine with being in the back of the bus.  It just meant that I wouldn't push too hard to try to keep up with the speedsters and there wouldn't be any pressure if I decided to stop and take a picture (or 25).  The cool thing about the The Treadmill runs is that no runner is left behind so I knew that even if I had to crawl up that mountain, everyone would be waiting for me at the finish.
It was really muggy out so by the time it was my turn to start I was already dripping sweat.  Not a cute look!  But it was so pretty on the trail that I didn't even care.  It also wasn't long before I realized that running up this mountain was going to be a much more challenging endeavor than I originally anticipated.  I was huffing and puffing and sweating up a storm and both calves were screaming at me to STOP but I kept chugging along (admittedly with a few walk breaks and more than a few picture breaks along the way).  Note: I am not a fan of switchbacks with false summits.  It's a bit deflating to think you're near the top just to round the corner and realize there's a lot more climbing to do. That's just mean!
The cows thought we were crazy

I had no problem with this but the speedsters didn't listen
I wasn't even halfway up my climb before the speedy runners came bombing down the trail.  I am truly in awe of people who run trails fast.  They make it look so effortlessly easy!  I am way too accident prone to try any of that mess...I was just praying I made it through the run without my face meeting the dirt! HA!  I just took it slow and steady and enjoyed the journey to the top and before long I had made it to the gate that marked the summit and turned around to enjoy the gorgeous view before me.

I was not mad at this view
Sooo pretty!
I am the first to admit that I really enjoyed the run back since my screaming calves got a break and I got to run much faster than I did on the way up.  I did notice that my right hip felt a bit tight and my quads were starting to fatigue. I apparently need to add learning how to bomb down a steep mountain to my training plans!  I got to the finish line and was immediately greeted with some high fives and a round of "good jobs".  Runners really are the best people!  Although, I did get yelled at (in a friendly way of course) by The Treadmill's owner for stopping several feet before the finish line to take a picture since it was technically a timed run and I was "wasting time".  Oops!  It's a good thing he likes me.

All the happy runners at the finish

Once all of the runners made it to the finish our happy little group trekked back to The Treadmill as a "cool down" run.  We were immediately greeted with electrolytes and snacks to replenish us from the run.  There was also an awesome raffle that included cool items such as Nathan water bottles, Treadmill hats, Hoka shirts and a Nathan hydration vest.  I didn't win a thing since I have the worst luck but it was fun seeing the expressions of everyone who did.

Afterwards, my co-worker and I headed out to refuel and rehydrate.  And because I'm such a good co-worker and friend, I taught him how to do it the right way with Thai food and cold beers.  Yup, I'm teaching him right!

Teaching my co-worker proper post-run rehydration
Overall, I had an amazing time! The Treadmill always hosts great community events and this run was no exception.  I am definitely looking forward to the next one.  For now, I'll be in rest and recovery mode for the next two days in preparation for the Salinas Valley Half Marathon on Saturday.  Here's hoping my body cooperates and I can get to that finish line injury free!

Have you ever tried trail running?  What's the next race on your schedule?

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