I'd never participated in a trail run before so I wasn't completely sure what to expect. I had heard that trail runs take longer than other races due to the unpredictable terrain and the amount of elevation change involved.
It wasn't the best weather for a race. It was cold and rainy, so there was a lot of water and mud on the course. I was worried about slipping or falling, so that slowed me down some. The race started on a rough blacktop section with several potholes and uneven sections. One of the biggest problems during the race was congestion - at the end of the blacktop section, we had to go through some trees down a small hill. The path was skinny enough that only one person could go at a time, so there was a big bottleneck. We came to a complete stop and it took about 30 seconds until I could get through. I felt bad for anyone who was trying to PR and I was glad that I wasn't trying to beat any of my previous times.
I tried to make up some time after the bottleneck, but soon after we came to the first set of stairs and entered the trail part of the race. I knew there were going to be some stairs, but there was more elevation change than I was expecting and there were several sets of stairs throughout the course. There was another bottleneck up one of the hills that took even longer than the first bottleneck. Luckily, on the second lap of the course (we had to do it twice), there weren't any bottlenecks because runners had spread out by this time. This race was really challenging and it's probably the toughest I've done so far. I ended up walking up most of the stairs and hills because I was too out of breath to keep running.
|They didn't take any pictures on the trail part, just the blacktop approaching the finish. Photographer: Herb Purganan|
Results: My time was 38:20. That is painfully slow for a 5k, but I have to keep reminding myself about the bottlenecks where I was at a complete stop, plus all of the hills and stairs. I ranked 35th out of 122 women and 65th out of 179 total runners (that finished the race - there were quite a few who did not finish).
I'm glad I didn't go into this race attempting to PR or even get a decent time. It was another good learning experience race. I'm undecided whether or not I'll do any more trail runs. I think that if I do, I'll choose one during the summer when the weather is nicer and one with a wider trail so there are fewer bottlenecks. Trail runs seem to be less about time and more about making it through a tough course with an unpredictable terrain, so it's race I would choose if I felt like being challenged.