A couple months back, a grad friend of mine, Dustin, asked me about local trail races. I recommended a couple that I had run, including Race Thru the Redwoods. About a month ago, he asked if I was going to run it and I said, maybe, depends on how I feel post marathon. Well, about a week or so after the marathon, I was thinking about the race and decided it would be fun to run it. I knew it had a good climb in the middle and I am not comfortable running terribly fast on trails, so I knew I would not go out and do something dumb like try to race super fast three weeks after SFM. So along with my teammate and good friend, Leslie, decided to join my grad buddy and just fun run the Redwoods race. (Plus it was only $30 and goes toward the local community in Felton.)
Saturday, the day before the race, we joined Elise and Sejin for a speedy long run and then, Leslie and I headed up to UCSC to cheer for the SCE men who were racing in the kick off race for the cross country season. We had thought about running it too, but after seeing the speedy guys we were glad to have decided on the Redwoods instead!
Sunday morning, we all met at my house and headed up to the entrance to Henry Cowell State Park. I’ve had some parking problems at this race before but this year it was really easy: close to the start and free. We grabbed our bibs and ran into Bob and Jaime, who were cheering, and Jose and Dan, fellow SCE teammates who were also running. After a easy warm up mile, with some cheering for the kids race, we hopped into the pack to start the race. Race Thru the Redwoods (yes they use “thru” rather than “through” and yes, it drives me bonkers) is pretty small, capped at 700 runners, and is a self-seeded start. The start came quickly (no countdown or anything) and we were off.
The first mile is all on road through the parking area and entrance to the park; I’m pretty sure it is just to add a mile and get the course to the full 10k distance. Then we are on to the trails, some of which is pretty loose sand, and with our drought, very dusty. It was fun running with Leslie for the first mile or so, but then we settled into our comfortable paces and made our way through the trails and up the big climb that begins about half way through mile 2 and into mile 3. It’s pretty steep and even though I feel good on hills, I had to hike a portion on it (partially due to forgetting to my inhaler before the race). As I was coming to the top of the climb, a couple of the volunteers told me I was the 2nd or 3rd woman. I knew there was a woman ahead of Leslie, so I knew that would mean I was the 3rd woman. Pretty cool! (But not accurate…)
After the turn around, I saw there was one woman not that far behind me. Even though I was really running this as a fun run, I liked the idea of finishing 3rd, so I did my best to keep ahead of her. About three-quarters of a mile from the finish (give or take), I saw Jaime, Bob, and Miriam cheering. I gave them a smile and kept on pushing through the trails. Just as I came up to the finish, the woman behind me had caught up. I tried to give it a good kick at the end but she had more left than I did and scooted past me. But I quickly learned that Leslie had finished third, meaning I finished fifth. And as Leslie reminded me, I did just run a marathon, so I was pretty happy with a 5th place. My finish time was 48:14, about 4 minutes faster than when I ran the race last in 2012.
We hung around for some of the raffle and the age group awards, where we all did really well. Leslie placed 1st, Dan placed 2nd, Dustin placed 3rd, and I took 2nd in our respective age groups. It ended up being a great morning and our only complaint was a lack of race day registration and no coffee at the finish!
Do you trail run? What’s your favorite trail race?