You never forget your first.
Clichés sound trite, but only because they ring true with such simplicity.
In 2002, I ran my first race ever. I can’t say I loved all 13.1 miles because I didn’t really know what I was getting in to, but 2 hours and 2 minutes after starting I did know I was different.
I was someone who could choose to do the hard thing. Running became my buddy and we’ve been hard to separate ever since.
Moving to Denver gave me the push to expand my running by taking on trails. Mind you I’ve been injured since January and only started really trying to run them 6 months prior to that…which means I’ve had approximately 6 months of injury free time running once a week on trails in the history of my 15 years running.
Definitely the perfect time to take on a race. What can I say, these views will get you every time.Trail runs are whole new world. A different way of experiencing the run.
You can’t zone out the same way, you need your wits to watch your feet.
You can’t be too proud to walk, you need the energy to enjoy the flats.
You can’t rely on your watch to tell you if a run was good or bad, you need to know pacing is different and so are the goals.
It’s hard and incredible.
All the feels in my video recap from the course of my first ever trail race in Oregon at the UA Mountain Running Mount Bachelor Trail Race.
My Race Report
As far as firsts go, this was pretty spectacular. People, views, sunshine, travel, not breaking any bones, all solid starts.
I’m so used to running distance, it was hard for me to mentally accept doing a 10K and not at least the half, but trails are so different and my knee injury wouldn’t have survived a half, so I’m glad I played it smart.Thursday flying home to Denver from NYC, I got the call that Under Armour Women found a last minute hotel room in Oregon, did I still want to go?? I figured what the heck, enjoyed a night in my own bed then continued my trek from East to West!
Whether it was all the travel or eating different foods, I’m not sure, but my stomach was in knots all day Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, that meant I wasn’t fabulous with pre-race, during race or post race nutrition, which is something I’m usually very diligent about. Start
I arrived at the start line by 8 AM to grab some video and share the fun starts of the 50K runners and marathoners, but that left me with hours to ponder what I was about to do because the 10K didn’t start until 11 AM! It was a full sun day, which put the temperature in the 80’s. Luckily at 6500 feet there’s not much humidity, so it was hot, but any breeze or shade made it feel bearable.
As with all trails, the start might be the worst part. In the first half mile, you go UP, UP, UP and you’re all adrenaline fueled, but gasping for air and trying to talk yourself out of walking and hurling.
That first mile had me questioning my decision to even attempt the 10K. I was pushing and breathing so hard to climb that hill, which meant my stomach was also pretty angry.
But then you round the corner and in comes the view, you smile and think yup this is why the pain is worth it. Throughout the single track race there was more passing and repassing people than I have in a road race, which I’m 100% sure is related to the following…my trail skills need work.
My trail running scorecard
Pacing: Excellent – I’ve always been good at knowing just how hard to push and even had a negative split
Uphill: Strong – Running or fast hiking I could pass a lot of people going uphill
Flat: Average – I’m not a speedster anyways, but a little slower with the knee and still learning not to trip on roots
Downhill: Vast improvement needed – Pretty much anyone moving forward could pass me here
I need a lot more practice with downhills. I could say it’s all because downhill hurts my knee more, but the truth is when I’m looking at an incline that’s steep and slick like a slide, my brain goes in to fight or flight and would prefer to turn tail and run back up something.
Getting used to letting my feet slide or actually picking up the pace rather than slowing down is something I’ll be working on. After cresting that first big hill, we had a bunch of steep short downhills where many folks passed me and I didn’t really care, as this was a fun race.
BUT…then I noticed with the remainder of the race being rolling hills, I started catching people. Which made me keep pushing even though that I’d like to hurl thought pattern was digging in it’s heals.This photo credit to Mkye Hermsmeyer
Around mile 4, I was thinking ok we have to be done soon. At which point I realized I had 2 miles left and considered just walking. That’s the thing about races though, they push you whether you want to be pushed or not!
I made a deal with myself that I had to RUN the runable parts and I’ll be darned if basically the entire last 2 miles weren’t runable. I kept waiting for a big hill or something, but there were only a couple that gave me a few seconds of walking. The race director told me this was a hard course, so I’ll take a pat on the back for it.
Nearing the end, I continued to marvel at how hard it the pace could feel considering it was slower than anything I’d normally do on the road. It was also over 80 degrees and trails require more brain power too, you have to stay engaged to stay upright.
In the end, I kept down my bagel, I pushed through and feel quite proud to say I was the 15th female overall. It was a small group, but who cares :) as we started up that first hill, my internal dialogue was already prepared to enjoy the spoils of being the last finisher!
UA Mountain Running Race Review
This was the UA Mountain Running Series first event, which meant as a newbie I’d really have no idea if anything was amiss. Ha! But after 15 years of running, I anticipate that every race will have some little hiccups the first time around or things that some people love and others hate.
I like giving a review of every race beyond my report because it’s helped me in picking races to read what others say! This however is also just my thoughts on hitting trails vs roads!
- Unbeatable scenery (and really that alone is sign up worthy)
- Running trails no one has had the chance to previously
- Good swat (see long sleeve tech shirt), nice medal, 30% code for Under Armour
- Access to indoor bathrooms
- Fun start finish area with yard games, local vendors with kombucha, tea, coffee, recovery tools
- Created great vibe of connection between the runners
- Late starts made for a hot day
- A few folks on longer courses grumbled about missed course markings and ran extra, I didn’t have any issues on the 10K
- Website doesn’t give very good description of trails, which made it hard to know what to expect
- Hotels were expensive and limited due to other big events happening in Bend
They have 2 races left in the series this year and one is here in Colorado!!! It’s in September near Breckenridge, so let’s hope the knee agrees to run that one as well.
One of the things I loved most about all the runners here, was the chatter and especially the talk about gear! I don’t call myself a run nerd for nothing. I enjoy talking about all aspects and especially gear because I just think it’s FUN!
Hydration – I’m in love with my CamelBak Marathoner vest because it fits tight to my body, no bouncing around and the front pockets make it easy to grab my phone to create that video! It doesn’t have tons of pockets, but I don’t carry a ton, so I love it. They don’t make this model any longer, but the Ultra 10 carries a little more for long runs/hikes and the Circuit vest is nice and simple like mine.
UA Speed Tire Ascent Low – I love that these have a Michelin tire for the bottom, it’s just cool and useful for grip! These are their lowest profile model and really comfy, unlike some shoes that can feel really stiff. I actually talked to a few UA product designers while there and have some other trail shoes I gotta get on my feet soon, but for those transitioning from road shoes to trail, these won’t disappoint.
Tape – I realized that my current running style puts more pressure on my toes as I go downhill, which resulted in lots of blisters while training in Malibu, so I followed through with moleskin taping and my feet were very happy!
Have you ever done a trail race?
What do you love about trails vs road?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
I was an Under Armour Women’s Athlete and received free entry/travel, all opinions, blisters and miles are my own.