Hooked on Trail Running

Thanks to everyone who gave their advice on how best to run trails, it definitely was helpful- however even with all that helpful advice I am still sore from my first trail race.  It was hilly, rocky, technical, wet, muddy, icy, fast, slow and just awesome! I really enjoyed going out and getting dirty on the trails.

The NJ Trail Series did a fantastic job managing this event.  There was three distances with varied starts.  The director did a great job with easing my mind of the course, being the first trail race and first time ever running at High Mountain, I was a a bit apprehensive of where I was going.

I started off pretty quickly, getting off to an 8:00+ pace and in the lead group.  I quickly fell back as we hit the incline to the top of High Mountain, my lungs were burning and my calves barking due to the uneven terrain.  I am familiar with running on easy flat asphalt, not the crazy stuff that I was having to navigate over and around.  I learned quickly that my pace would have to be slow, like over two minutes slower.  As fast as we went up to the top of High Mountain we came right back down the other side.  At times I felt out of control and others I was confident with where I was stepping.  This continued until the halfway point where we came off the trail and onto the street for an aid station.  I literally stopped to drink water.  My legs were on fire!  My splits definitely showed when the course was hilly and more technical.

The second half was a bit more flat but got more technical with loose rocks, downed trees, mud and streams.  It was just after the half way point that I fell the first time.  I was on a flat stretch with soft dirt when I hit a root and went flying forward, thankfully there were no rocks.  I simply got back up and kept going.

It was with 2 miles left that I fell for the second time, this one was a much harder fall.  I was navigating over and around a very rocky trail, probably going to fast, I slipped and fell forward again, this time banging my knee and shin on a bed of rocks thinking “there goes my knee cap, I’ve shattered it.” After a status check I was off again running more aggressively that I probably should have been.

Finally I looped back on the path we went out on and from there it was a familiar path to the finish.  Since I went out so fast with the lead pack and then fell off of their pace  so quickly I pretty much ran the entire race by myself.  It was at this point that racers from the 5k started to merge with us.

I saw the clearing and pushed as hard as I could.  At the finish all I could keep saying was “that was fun. Sick. Awesome”. It was, I totally had fun.  I enjoyed my first trail race.  I got dirty. I fell and had some scapes.  I went fast. I went slow. It was just an awesome experience.

As I said in my post last week, I had zero expectations.  I ended up finishing in 1:06 which was good enough for 12th overall. I think I lost a bunch of time not knowing the course, I had no idea how steep of a climb it was at the beginning.  I definitely would have managed my pacing better.  Again, no expectations meant I could care less what my time was and just simply enjoy it all- accomplished.

My core, ankles, hips are sore as hell still- it was such a good workout. It was fun and I can’t wait to run another race on the trails.

Congrats to Catherine who finished the 5k 13th overall, her first trail race ever as well.

Have you run a trail race? What are your feelings about them? Have you fallen during a trail run? Did you get hurt?

- Scott

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