Monday, June 4, 2012

Falling to First: Auburn Trail Run 25k (June 2, 2012)

Falling to First: Auburn Trail Run 25k
June 2, 2012

Since pacing in AR50, I have tapered down the running for the past couple months.   But with the Tahoe Rim 50k coming up in July, I find it is time to kick up the trail running training again and rebuild my mileage.  Checking out the calendar of events, I saw the event for the Auburn Trail Runs coming up.  So, I signed up for the 25k.  I needed to get in a long run on this weekend and thinking 15ish on the trails would be good.  And, there will be aid stations so that'll be helpful.

So, I signed up for the 25k race with thoughts that it would be a good training run.

The Race


In the morning, I start of the day with my usual pre-race routine.  Get into my running gear, sporting my favorite running shirt, the Java Joggers shirt.  I make a stop at Starbucks for my usual vanilla latte and oatmeal.  Then, I drive up to the Auburn Dam Outlook (ADO).

Arriving at ADO, I think it has been months since I have run on the trails out here.  In winter and early Spring, I had run out here a lot in training.  But since AR50, I had not run out here.  It will be nice to get back on the trails again.

I get my race number (lucky #226), eat my oatmeal, and hang out.  I put on my fuel belt which carries two 10 oz water bottles.  I debate carrying my hand held bottle (which I usually carry on long runs).  But, I think, there will be aid stations so the two bottles should be sufficient.  So, I leave the hand held bottle in the car.

This race is a small race so not too many runners about.  I eventually see a few of my running buddies and hang with them for a bit.  While talking to Diane, I talk to her about how I am trying to get myself back into trail running mode.  She says this will be a good race to reignite the fire back into trail racing.

We hang out and watch the 50k runners start their race.  Then, we wait about 15ish minutes before the 25k runners can start their race.

ADO to No Hands Bridge

Around 8:15 a.m., the race begins for the 25k runners.  We all start running down from ADO towards the trails.  We hit the single track and start running mostly downhill-ish.

About 1/4 mile into the race, my foot hits a tree root or a rock or something and into the air I fly.  Bam!!  I hit the ground and my face into the dirt trail. The wind is knocked out of me.  I lay there for a moment, dazed.  I see feet flying over me as the runners run by.

One runner, an older gentleman, helps me to my feet.   I stand for a moment catching my breath.  The rest of the pack passes me by.  I wipe some of the dirt off of me.  A bunch of dirt is smashed into my white shirt and my face feels like I have been socked.  I put my water bottles back into their holsters and try to gather myself.  Diane stops to see if I am okay.  She notices that my water bottle is leaking water.  One of the bottles tore in half.  I take the bottle out of the holster and lay it on the side of the trail.  I will pick it back up on my way back.

I then ease my way back into running.  My legs do not feel too badly.  A slightly scraped up knee.  I think my upper body and face hit the ground moreso than my legs as my face is stinging with pain.  I also note that my palms do not hurt at all.  I think I fell too fast for my hands to come out to brace myself.  My chest, my right shoulder, and right breast are sore.  I think I skidded a bit during my fall.  My lip and teeth hurt too.  I think I banged my teeth.  But, I just run along towards No Hands Bridge.  I feel like an idiot though.  I cannot believe I fell so early in the race and what a fall too!  Flat on my face!  Good grief!  This race is going to be remembered as the race where I face planted myself.  Ugh.

I run for a bit and pass a couple people.  But then I find my shoe laces are loose so I have to stop to retie my shoe.  Runners pass me during this.  I am still early in the race so I think I can still make my way from the back of the pack to the middle of the pack.  I want to catch back up and not be at the back of the pack so I pick up the pace.  I pass a couple folks as I head to No Hands Bridge.

I can feel the day is warming up already.  I take a sip of my one water bottle and ingest some dirt. I sputter a bit.  My bottle got quite covered in dirt during my fall.  I try to wipe it off as best as I can.  My white shirt is all brown now.  I feel a little concern that I am only running with one 10 oz bottle now since the other one broke.  Today is a hot day and I have some tough hills ahead.  I hope I do not run out of water.  I think I jinxed myself by not bringing my handheld bottle, which I am used to running with in long races.

I eventually get to No Hands Bridge where there is an aid station.  I drink a cup of Heed, refill my one measly bottle and snack a little.

Up K2 to Cool

Leaving No Hands Bridge, I head to K2, a beastly hill.  I trudge my way up it, mostly hiking.  But, I am trying to hike briskly.  I am trying to catch up for the time I lost from falling.  I sip water as I push my way up the hill but try to be somewhat conservative as I do not want to run out of water.  Up, up, up I go.

My face still stings pretty badly.  I hope I do not bruise.  I remember a recent conversation with another trail running friend about how we get all scraped, bruised, and banged up from running trails (namely our legs).  I remember we had made a joke about having to tell our non-running friends that it is from trail running and that we are not being abused.  I think I hope my face doesn't bruise.  I picture myself telling people at work on Monday, no my boyfriend didn't beat me up, I fell on my face on the trails.  Really!  I imagine people going "sure, 'fell'" ...random things I think about to keep me going during a long run.

As I head up K2, I remember when I had volunteered for the K2 Vertical Beermile.  Halfway up K2, I see the faded chalk of where I had sat during the Vertical Beermile.  I also see a couple other runners.  While still walking/hiking, I find I am going a little bit faster so I end up passing them (slowly).  My legs are feeling strong so I continue to hike as briskly as I can up K2.

Near the top, I spot a few more runners.  I slowly but steadily pass one after the other.  My water bottle is nearing the bottom.  I knew this hill would probably require me to drink most of the water.  I am trying not to drink it all as I am not sure when the next aid station is.  But, it is hot and I am starting to drip with sweat so I sip a little bit here and there.  But, the bottle is running low.

I reach the top of K2 and see no aid station.  I had hoped to see one at the top.  I continue running and being extra conservative with my water now.  But, the day is starting to get hotter and hotter.

I run along the trails towards Cool.  I cross a tiny little creek with a tiny bit of water.  I put my hands in and splash a little water on myself.  Then, I continue running.  On the downhills, I try to really pick up the pace.  Again, still trying to make up lost time for my fall.

Finally, after a bit, I see the aid station.  My friend Tony yells at my across the field asking me if I am okay from my fall.  I say I am mostly okay.  I am glad to see Tony as I feel I am back to the group of people I had started off running with.

I hit the aid station.  The volunteers see I am covered in dirt and ask if I fell.  I tell them I did and that I only have one bottle now.  They help refill my bottle with more water.  I eat a GU and then head on my way.

The next stretch is on the paved road mostly exposed.  I run along picking up the pace a little bit.  I run a little faster on the road than on the trails so I am taking advantage of the road now.  I zig zag a little bit from the left side to the right side of the road depending on where there may be a little bit of shade.  But, I get into an okay running groove. 

At one point, I pass a lady spectator walking down the road.  I remember having seen her earlier in the race somewhere.  She tells me that I am seventh overall and third female.  That is nice to know where I am in the race.  I feel good that I am third female now.  This kind of motivates me a little bit that I am towards the front now.

In not too long, I reach the Cool Fire Station where there is another aid station.  Again, I refill my water and feeling pretty good about the race.  I know these trails from here to the finish quite well.  One of the volunteers recognizes me and says my name.  I look up and sees that it is Jason, a fellow in my running group I have run with a few times.  I greet him and he wishes me luck.  Always nice to see a friendly face during a race.

Then, off I go.  I wonder if I will be able to see any of the girls that are ahead of me.

Cool Back to No Hands Bridge

As I run from Cool back down to No Hands Bridge, memories of the Way Too Cool 50k come back to me.  This is part of the course.  I pass the point where I had caught up to my friend Scott in the WTC race and we had run together the rest of the way.  I see a runner ahead of me not too far in the distance.

I make a turn and run along on the dirt path.  I lose sight of the runner ahead of me.  I continue on and pass a sign and trail to the right of me.  I then stop.  I see a tiny torn off pink ribbon on the sign.  We were to follow the pink ribbons.  I stand at this junction wondering whether I am supposed to run straight or go on this trail to the right.  The runner that was ahead of me is no where in sight.  I scan down the trail to the right and see another pink ribbon a ways down.  Okay, I think this is the way to go. So, I run on the single track trail to the right.

I look back to see if any runners are behind me so I can wave them in this direction so they do not miss the turn.  But, I do not see anyone coming.  I continue along.

This stretch back to No Hands Bridge is mostly downhill so I try to kick up the pace a bit as I know from No Hands Bridge to the finish is all uphill and I will be slowing down quite a bit then.  I fly along on the trails on this warm day.  These trails are familiar and I feel what Diane had said about the fire being reignited.  I had enjoyed my break from running for a bit but here I am back on the trails, having my memory refreshed as to why I love trail running so much.  My face is starting to sting less but I feel a fat lip coming on.

After a couple miles, I see her.  The girl ahead of me.  I get really close to her and she hears me coming.  She picks up her pace.  I cannot quite catch up to her.  But, she is mostly in sight now.  I think when we start going uphill is when I will really try to pass her.

The day is warming up though.  My legs are sweating.  All of me is glistening with sweat.  I am wearing running shorts that I have not really raced in.   I have run in them but not raced in them.  I am now finding that my shorts and thighs are starting to chafe a bit.  It is quite uncomfortable.  But, I keep going.  I am kicking myself for not wearing my usual running shorts that I am used to racing in.

I eventually make it down to No Hands Bridge.  I refill on water.  I drink some soda and eat some m&m's.  I only have a few more miles to the finish.

From No Hands Bridge back to ADO

I cross No Hands Bridge and start heading back up to ADO.  I see the girl ahead of me.  She stays ahead for a bit.  We then hit some of the steeper hillier part and start walking.  I power walk and eventually pass the girl.  I wonder if that lady was right in saying I was third female.  I wonder if I am really second female.

I continue on my way walking briskly up the hills and running when I can.  I pass various hikers out and a couple horses.  I continue on up towards ADO.

Then, I come around a bend and I see a guy and a girl on the hill ahead of me.  Yes, the other girl ahead of me.  I push myself and get pass her on the hill.  She did not look so pleased that I passed her.

I catch up to the guy ahead of me.  I feel like I can start running a little bit now so I start to run.  My calf twinges a bit, the pre-cramp twinge.  I listen to my legs and just continue walking up the hill.  I eat another GU just to be safe.  I drink a little more water.  Though, I find myself running low again with this hot weather and the climbing.  I wish I had more water, not just to drink but to just pour on my face as I am starting to feel roasted.

When the trail levels off again, I start running again, when I can.  I still walk/hike the steeper hills.  I keep looking back to make sure the girl behind me does not catch up.  I see her pick up her pace on one stretch so I pick up my pace.

I pass the marker that tells me I am a mile from the finish.  I am pretty much out of water.  I try to drink whatever droplets are in the bottle.  It is hot but I feel I can go this last mile.  And, it is a little more shaded here.  I look back to see if any runners are narrowing the gap on me.  I do not see any behind me so I think my lead is safe for the time being.

I get near to where I fell earlier and start scanning the side of the trails for my broken water bottle.  Then, I spot it.  As I pick it up, I see that the way I had laid it down had allowed about 1/4 of the water to remain in the bottle.  Such relief.  I squeezed a little water on my face and drank some.  Then, I stuff the bottle back into my harness and start to run knowing I am definitely close to the finish now.

After a short bit, I run/walk my way up to ADO and cross the finish line.

And, they tell me I am the first female finisher!  woo-hoo!

Final Thoughts

While this race started off as the race where I completely face planted myself, it turned out to be the race where I finished first female over all.  That's a nice turn of events.  :)

I will comment that the race was not very large.  Also, I technically got second overall too as some of the front/fast guys ended up getting directed the wrong way.  Also, a few folks behind me ended up missing the turn I nearly missed.  But, I did fall on my face and pick myself up and caught back up.  And, I did pass the two girls that the lady said was ahead of me.  So, I did do something for the win.  ;-)

I feel pretty good about the race.  While winning was nice, I liked more that it reignited my passion for trail running and got me more fired up about my upcoming 50k (TRT).  I have been spending a lot of time in the past couple months doing crazy cycling things.  While that is fun, I find I am more of a runner.  Running will always be the greater love.  ;-)

As far as the race goes, it was put together by Elemental Running, who had taken over for Robert/Linda Mathis after their untimely deaths.  The race was small and laid back, which I enjoyed.  It was very nicely supported.  Everyone was super friendly and the post-race BBQ was nice.  All the finishers got nice pint glasses.  For winning, I got a nice duffle bag and a book, It Has Nothing to Do With Age, by Dr. Frank Lieberman.  Dr. Lieberman ran the 25k too and after the race, he autographed the book for me.  So, that was nice.  :)

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