Run a trail half marathon, they said. It will be fun, they said. (Trail Hog recap)

Hi! How are you? Me, I’m great. Yesterday I finished my 15th half marathon, my first trail half. Holy smokes it was a doozy. I was originally signed up for the 10k because the event had a Harry Potter theme to it and after hearing my friends were doing the half, they convinced me to upgrade so I did. I hadn’t run a trail half before and it was highly ambitious to start with this one, but I tend to live on the edge! Here’s a recap!

Friday, September 21

The race was over 2.5 hours away from where I live and since the race was on a Saturday, it made it tricky to get down there that night before because of Friday night traffic. Luckily my friend who lives about 1 hour and 15 minutes from me said I could stay at her house because she was also running. My other friend was staying at her house too. I jet out of my job at 4pm in the nose to run home, finish packing and made it to her house around six… just in time for a quick visit to the beach for the sunset.

After that we went to a local restaurant for some delicious pasta, and then laid out our flat runners. Clearly I wasn’t running for time since I was planning to wear a necktie. Picking out my outfit was tricky. I wanted to wear shorts and a tank because of the exposure the park that the race was at had, but my tank options were limited and when I pulled a green tank out decided I could not wear that because people would think I was a Slytherin, and as a die hard Gryffindor that was unacceptable. Luckily I found the black one and my tie.

Then bed time came because we had to leave the house before 5 am to pick up our other friend and get to the race!

Saturday, September 22

We left bright and early with crusty eyes and sleepy yawns. We picked up our friend and drove to the race, and picked up our bibs. I bought a new hat to wear because I really wanted a Brazen Racing hat, so I got that too and wore it for the race. I put it on and Melissa and I had a laugh because I forgot to take the cardboard out of it 🤣. No wonder my head felt so stiff.

We did the Hiker start, which for Brazen events means you start the half marathon before everyone else starts to give you extra time. I like this because it takes the pressure off starting with lots of fast people. After a slew of pre-race selfies and race briefing, we were off at 7:30 and we had the shark, Bruce, that travels to different events with my running group.

The race course is super exposed. I did not love that, and next time I do a trail race will look for a covered course… maybe one near the Coast. But the views were nice and we took lots of pictures.

But it was HOT. Last year they said the event was 109 degrees as the high that day. Ummm no thanks. I’ll take my 75ish but even that was toasty.

The first few miles you climbed up this hil that nearly killed me. I thought I was going to die right then and there. I am glad I printed a copy of the course map so I could see the elevation profile and knew when the climbing was coming. At the top of the climb, around mile 2.2, we were greeted by an aid station, where I ate two potato chips and a cup of ice water and we kept going.

We were walking the uphills and running the down and flats which was a good way to tackle things. Around mile 3 we started seeing the fast half marathon runners pass us. The half started 30 minutes after the hiker start. They were very kind and I really like the energy of trail runners. We had lots of laughs along the way.

Around mile 4.2 we hit the second aid station. Sweet relief. More cold ice water and chips and off I went. I was taking in Skratch chews every 45 minutes.

As we looped around I heard someone saying something and I thought they were telling me to move, which confused me since the trail was wide, but then I turned around and saw Tony (Endorphin Dude) and he asked if I had seen cows since he knows my love of them. Sadly, no cows, and he sped off because he was aiming for a big time goal!

At about mile six you saw an area near where we started but you passed it and started a new loop of a different area. Now, we were heading out and someone told me they had to pop off and go to the bathroom. There were no bathrooms on this course and I was stressed out over that after reading pre-race instructions so I bought baby wipes and stuck them in my pack and was glad someone else had to use them and not me! After a few friend giggles about whether a branch had poked her in the butt or not, we were back out.

You had to hit the third aid station at mile 7.5 by 10:30 am and we hit it around 9:30 which was great! I felt good to be on track. I was worried. At that aid station I had some electrolytes, a few chips and peanut m&m’s (hey, I don’t know that they helped my running but if I was gonna do a trail half I needed to participate fully, right?) and swig of Coke. The sugar felt good. Off we went.

Now, at some point after this we started a treacherous climb which nearly broke me. At this point two of my friends broke off from me and my other friend. The climb up was painful and hot and I struggled. Going down felt good after that but from then on my running became solely walking. My feet were achey.

After getting through that climb, we were off again and realized that we were some of the last people out on the course. That’s okay because we were “doing it” we kept reminding ourselves. It was me and my friend Ria’s first trail half so we stuck through it. I swallowed a bug at mile 10.5ish and chugged the rest of my water trying to get it out. It was nasty. I knew there was an aid station at mile 11.15 so I was okay without water for a bit and Ria gave me a sip of hers until we got there.

Finally we saw the glorious aid station and I refilled my pack with ice water and had a few more snacks. I underestimated how long it would take me to finish so I had run out of chews. Thankfully I had some chips and it helped. We were off.

The last two miles were a blur but at this point we had gotten back on the section of the course so we were remembering the path and thinking about where we were and what had happened on that stretch earlier in the day. We saw a volunteer who told us we were .75 miles from the finish (YAY!) even though our watches said we were at 12.8, so the course was long (which we knew but dreaded in that moment).

Finally we saw the magical arches of the finish line and we had a song cued up to play as we crossed but “you make my dreams come true” by Hall & Oates came on so we rocked out to that.

And I was DFL and couldn’t have been happier.

I felt bad that I had taken so long to finish and that the crew was waiting but I think I was still within my time limit and I felt overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone who cheered for us for completing our first trail half. This elevation was no freaking joke. I could feel how the work I’ve done at Santa Rosa Strength & Conditioning helped my hips and my ankles feel strong for this event. Even though my feet were sore from being on them, I didn’t feel pain and felt strong. Trail runners really are a different energy than road runners. I felt so accepted in the community yesterday.

After visiting with lots of people it was time to get food cause we were ready! I didn’t have much appetite, oddly enough, so I didn’t finish my meal but it was good. Chocolate milk, eggs benedict and potatoes. And chocolate milk. (The pancakes weren’t mine but they look good!)

I boxed half my meal up and we started the drive back to drop my friend off and then get back to our other friend’s house. We showered and visited a little bit and headed home. By this time I had sat in the car for a while and found my appetite again. I stopped for a burrito but then got stuck in standstill traffic. Don’t judge, I was starving.

And I finally got home for a soak.

I felt dehydrated even though I was trying to drink water through the day, so I drank a whole slew and tucked myself in nice and early.

Will I do it again?

Yes, absolutely yes. Not any time real soon because my focus is on CIM, but I think I may do a 10k sometime soon, and then shoot for more trails in 2019. I had been considering a 50k next year to celebrate 31 miles because I’m turning 31, and I think this solidified that desire. I would like to drop weight to have an easier time out there but it isn’t a deal breaker for doing another trail half! I would like to do one in a shadier area though, not so exposed. Will feel better that way.

Until next time, Trail hogs!


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