I don’t think I’ve ever shown up to a race and been so calm. No pressure, no expectations. Just me, dirt trails, creek crossings, and steep elevation. Typically I race for results, particularly goals that I have set for myself. But today marked a little over a year of dealing with these never ending leg injuries and I decided it wasn’t worth it. Not at this race, to experience that all over again. Plus, I just didn’t feel like going all out, it was too beautiful out to miss out on some Mother Nature loving.
I was shocked by the volume of participates. I missed the start for the 50K but the half-marathon start line was packed! 30 minutes later we lined up for the 10K. Maybe that’s why my motivation took a bit different tone, this was only a 10K. I run 10Ks on Mondays! So the ‘race’ for me was more of a fun weekend cruise. And I took that cruise to heart.
9:00 sharp and we were off. It took a couple of minutes to finally make my way past the those who really need to learn to not start at the front of the pack. Regardless, props for being out there, but common courtesy is, if you are going to have to start walking after 200 feet, please line up towards the back of the crowd. Especially for a trail run, this makes for a bit of a challenge to pass when the terrain isn’t ideal.
This marks my 3rd official race on Mount Diablo. Time Trail to Junction ✓ Mount Diablo Challenge Road Race ✓ and now Trails Challenge ✓.
I started off steady. Slow pace, remember – not racing here. Immediately I knew the course, I’ve mountain biked this section too many times to count. Up the sandy rocks, down the mini rock garden and continued forth on the fire road. It is a slight downhill before making our way to our first of many creek crossings. Now, when riding these trails during the summer there is always some water. But this was spring….the creeks resembled rivers, and we got wet. Very wet. Calf Deep. Screw crossing gingerly, this was part of the fun!
Creek crossing #2, #3, #4. It was as if behind every turn was more water. Then we turned #5. Elevation. Great, now we are soaking wet, on single track, making a nice muddy slip-in-slide. The pace came to a crawl as we bottlenecked up the steep grade. There was no opportunity to pace, and we were all trying to just stay on two feet.
Oh look, poison oak! Looks like it’s been doing well with the season this year.
The single track eventually made its way up to some open space. The views were spectacular. The trail was starting to try so running was back in the picture. Heading down the mud was causing many slide outs. Man, where’s my all-wheel drive when you need it!
Continued onward. The trail looks back around with views of North Gate Road before making its way back town to the main loop. A quick out and back was all that was left and then 2 miles back to the finish. One problem, you have to follow the creek to the out and back. Solution? It’s time to get wet. Bonus? It cleaned my shoes!
Right before the turnaround, I spotted my handsome dad ringing his classic cowbell. He mountain biked to the turnaround and was a great single-cheer squad. At least this time I didn’t have ‘racing-bitch-face’ because I was just out having fun and enjoying my run. After half a mile we met up with the 5K ‘runners’. We crossed some more water and headed back up the mini rock garden. .25 left and I picked up the pace, I mean, I can’t finish and not look like I didn’t run at all….
I believe this is officially my slowest 10K race time and I’m pretty excited about that fact! 🙂 It was fun racing with my neighbors. J-bean killed it (totally not surprised) at her first 10K race and placed 2nd in her age group. It was a beautiful day out supporting my childhood mountain. Maybe next year I can actually race and do the half-marathon.