This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Heaven's View Trail Run

I ran the "Heaven's View 10K" today - my first trail run with Redwood Trails. It was very similar to the Angel Island run I did back in August with Envirosports. D opted for the half marathon (1/2M) which was two loops of the 10K course.

It was supposed to rain today, and I was very worried about the weather. When we got to the island, we stuffed all our belongings in plastic bags. I anticipated that I would warm up quickly after I started running, so I wore my usual running gear only to find that I was inadequately dressed. At D's advice, I put my on Treasure Island t-shirt on top of everything. Much better.

In his introductory speech, the organizer, Eric Gould, informed us that the race distances were longer than advertised. Eric used both a GPS and a measuring wheel to figure out the trail lengths, and he said that the "10K" was actually 6.88 miles and the "1/2M" was 13.76 miles. He also advised us to use the first 0.25 miles to figure out where to place ourselves in the pack because it would be difficult to overtake people after that since the path narrowed to a single track.

D started with the other 1/2 marathoners at ~9:10AM. Ten minutes later, I went with the 10K crew. There was also a 5K run or walk option for other folks who started after us. I thought it was a great idea to have this shorter distance available to trail running newbies.

I assumed that we were going to take the same path as the one for Envirosports where we started off with a brief uphill portion, followed by a sharp left directly onto the trails. Imagine my surprise when our course was such that we continued straight. Straight UPHILL that is.

I kept up a brisk pace during the first part of the race to jockey for position. What a mistake. I haven't run hills in weeks, so I was completely unprepared for the climb. As I passed a couple of ladies on the way up, I heard them complain that they had only run about 50 feet yet they were already out of breath! I'd like to say that I was able to scoff at their weakness, but I felt exactly the same way. The hills were killing me.

Before the race began, I told D that my goal was (1) to finish (as always) and to (2) run nonstop. I was in grave danged of violating (2). My lungs seared with pain with each inhalation of cold air, and I was on the verge of hyperventilating. It took every ounce of willpower for me to keep on running while my lungs kept on screaming "STOP! WALK!" every step of the way. I had no idea how I was supposed to run for 6.9 miles given that I was on the verge of collapse less than 0.25 miles into the race.

I have no idea how I managed it, but I kept on running. Things were better when I hit the dirt trails because it wasn't as steep, but I was still wheezing. I was breathing so heavily and so loudly that people ahead of me knew I was approaching even when I was nowhere near them.

This prolonged misery lasted all the way until I reached the flat part of the course which is where I was supposed to accelerate. Instead, I slowed down to catch my breath and get my heart rate down. Several people passed me. I gradually sunk into a much too comfortable pace where I was running at 75% effort. It was quite annoying because I knew I needed to be at 85% exertion (tempo!) but the motivation wasn't there.

At around mile 3.1, there was an aid station near the summit. What a lovely surprise! Eric said that the guy stationed there actually spent the night at Angel Island. I assumed he was camping. Brrr. Must have been freezing! Since I was running with my Camelpak, I didn't need to stop and kept on chugging away.

In hindsight, the aid station was strategically located right before another (%&#$@ hill. I remembered it from my last run, but I had forgotten how long that portion was. Once again, I worked very hard to fight off my instinct to walk.

We were told that there were mile markers on the course, but since I was looking at the ground most of the time (glancing occasionally to see the outstanding scenery -- they don't call it "Heaven's View" for nothing!), I didn't see any until a sign that said mile 5. I was quite excited because I was more than halfway done. It was also at this point that some friendly guy passed me and asked, "How are you doing?" "Great!" I replied enthusiastically. "You've got a great pace," he continued, "very smooth". Well it obviously wasn't smooth enough because he easily loped ahead and disappeared into the distance.

The last part of the race was downhill so I ran as fast as I could to try and catch up. I did overtake a few people, but nowhere near the number that had passed me earlier. I had to watch my footing very carefully too, because parts of the trail had deteriorated. One wrong step and I would have unwittingly thrown myself off the side of the hill.

While bounding down the hill, I saw D on his way to do the second loop) and gave him an enthusiastic high five while whooping and hollering. In case you're wondering, it's not a good thing that I was able to yell and cheer for other runners in the middle of the race. It means that I had too much energy. I should have put more effort into running faster instead.

The results are in! My time was 1:08:14 and I placed 62 out of 112 10K runners in total. I placed 11 out of 25 in my age group, and 24 out of 62 for my gender. Not bad.

Unfortunately, D did not fare as well. He had a massive leg cramp that consumed his entire being around mile 9 of the race so he had to stop and stretch for about two minutes before he could move again. He still couldn't run or jog so he walked the rest of the way to the finish line. Even that was painful. He was grimacing when I saw him finish. He was in whole world of hurt. He said that it was as bad as his trail marathon. Yikes.

I think he should see a sports doctor to see why he cramps so easily. He had taken a salt pill before the race and had filled his hydration unit with Perpetuem, so it's unclear to either of us why he developed cramps. D is amazed that I never cramp, but I told him it's only because I don't run fast enough or far enough to experience something like that... yet. I have a bad feeling that I'd get cramps if I ever tried to do a 1/2M which is what I'm working my way up to.

Speaking of which, our next race is the Castle Rock Trail Run on 11/22/03. It's supposed to be one of the most beautiful trails in California. It's also 10 miles long. Stay tuned.

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