Wait, Stephanie ran a race?!
Yes, I did! FINALLY! It feels like it’s been forever since my last race. I was able to run a 5k at the 4th of July in Tennessee but that was more of a fun run. I signed up for the NoName 15k back in the spring for something to train towards. I had run this distance before but I really wanted to knock this one out of the park. With alot of feet issues (long story) and lack of confidence, I was worried about this come race day. Usually before races, I don’t get alot of sleep because of pre-race jitters. But this was different. I went to bed knowing I had a race but fell asleep and rested up just like any other night of the week. I knew that was a good sign.
The main thing about trail running that differs from road running is the mentality. It’s not about time, it’s about enjoying your time out there and finishing with a feeling of accomplishment. Throughout my entire race, I kept telling myself ‘run this race for YOU and no one else’.
This had to be one of the smallest races I had ever been to. The Rock N Roll half marathon was the same morning so while the majority of LA was downtown running around the city streets, I was out in the hills with maybe 50 other trail lovers and it was glorious. The morning was a bit chilly so I kept my jacket on right up to the start of the race. They sent the 50k and 30k runners first and then us 15k-ers a half hour after. The sun was rising but there was enough cloud cover to keep it very mild. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.
7:30am hit and we were off! I was excited. The first mile or so was climbing. Nothing too intense but I knew this would be tough right off the bat since my muscles hadn’t warmed up yet. It was a beautiful single track ridge that gave us the most spectacular view within the first half mile of the race. I felt rested so I wanted to get a strong start and pushed it. After the climb we starting to come down into the canyon and into this oak tree dense fire road trail. This was section was welcomed because I wanted to get my heart rate back down and lock in a pace until the first aid station. I saw the aid station at mile 2.5 and was already hungry so I took a couple of Gu Chomps here (strawberry I think). I was hungry at the start and I started to get sleepy so I knew I needed food. Not in any rush, I chatted with the ladies at the aid station, took some water and I was off. Right after this, I saw my support team, Steve and Rocky and that really gave me a boost. I knew they were out on the course for a training run but I didn’t know when I would see them. What a treat!
The next few miles were my favorite. The trail went from more oak tree dense fire road into a narrow desert trail that has almost a red clay color and texture to it. The trees disappeared and it became more exposed. From mile 2.5 to 4.5 was a deceiving climb so it felt tougher than it looked. Throughout this entire race we had to share the trail with ALOT of mountain bikers. Apparently, this area is popular amongst them, especially in the fall. Fortunately, the majority of them were very supportive and were able to clear the way for us. At this point, I was sticking with a small group of ladies for the next couple miles so it helped to be in a group when dealing with the bikers.
We reached mile 4.5, did a small loop and we were headed back! Half way done! This was when I really locked it in. Since we did a gradual climb for the past 2.5 or so, I was excited to really cruise down hill. This was when I started to pass some people. With one earbud in playing a podcast and my legs feeling good (no foot pain!) it was time to GO.
And with that, it was the most fun I had during this race. The aid station popped up again and so I took some more Gu chomps with some water. I knew I had some more fire road ahead of me and my pace was good so I didn’t want to stay too long. Once again, saw my support team out on the course and they told me to go catch the girls in front of me. And so I did.
Mile 7 felt long but ended up being my fastest (go figure?) but I knew I was almost there. ‘Less than 2 miles to go’ was going over in my head. One more aid station stop at mile 8 and this is where I felt like I needed some electrolytes. One of the volunteers game me some and I asked him where the trail headed from this point. There was only a mile so the finish was close. He pointed up at that same ridge we climbed at the beginning. My heart sank and little. It was a pretty long climb so the majority of the last mile was up. OOOOOOOF. Ok let’s do this.
Up, up, up and then at the top I saw the finish. I looked and it was a fun downhill the whole way there. Mustering everything I had, it BOOKED it down that hill. There was one more girl Steve told me to pass ahead of me and I love downhill so I decided to take advantage. Hoping that my tired legs wouldn’t lock up, I sprinted. Closer…closer…closer… that girl was right in front of me and I honestly don’t think she even heard me coming. Passing her right before the finish line, I was DONE!
Final 15k: 1:47:11
Broke 2 hours! Going into this race, I didn’t have a goal. The plan was to go out and have fun. And that’s what I did. Breaking the 2 hour mark was just the icing on the cake. This race was amazingly fun and I really felt strong. Thank you to Rocky and Steve for being out there to give me that much needed boost!
Now, onto the next one!