I have been trying to do races if possible when I travel these days. When I found out I was going to be going to CA late August
I started to look for a possible race to do right away. I was rather hoping for a half-marathon since I need the mileage at this stage of my marathon training but I did not find any. However, I did find a 12K on trials along beautiful undeveloped beach area in Santa Cruz.
This race also had a 4K (not sure how they came up with these odd distances) which was a good race distance for the friend and colleague I was going to be with while in Santa Cruz. A friend we were staying with for a few days joined us as well for the 12K.
Pre Race photo:
Seeing the word “trail” in the race description I was wondering and a bit concerned about what the surface would be like. I do not have much trail running experience. I called to Race Director to get the scoop on what the trail surface was like and some other race details. He assured me that except for a very short portion that went over just a couple rocks and sand the trail was very smooth and easy to run on.
Ok good, this alleviated my brewing anxiety about the race surface. Now I could move on to being anxious about something else for a while. ..like what shoes to wear.
Pre Race photo of the park race started in:
I flew into the San Jose airport arriving Saturday at 6:00 PM Pacific Time. It was a long day for me with the time change. The race was Sunday morning so I had little time to recuperate from being very stiff caused by sitting nearly all day in the car or on a plane. I went to bed at what would have been about 11:00 PM back home and I was spent.
I was staying at a friend’s house and I always sleep better when I am not in a hotel. We left the house at 6:45 AM the next morning for the race which was starting at 8:30 AM. We were some of the first people there when we arrived around 7:30 AM. This would not be the case at a race in IL! There would already be runners there and warming up. I guess CA folks are more laid back and show up only about 20 minutes before a race starts!
I had time to do a 2 mile warm-up which I really needed. I was still feeling quite stiff especially in my hips. We headed down to the start areas about 10 minutes before the start. I was eager to get going since I was warmed up and soon we headed out on the trail. I was surprised to find that the trail was not smooth as I had been told but had sand and plenty of stones and brush as well. I figured that once we got further out on the trail the “very smooth” surface the Race Director told me about would emerge Uhhh, that never happened. Not only that but the “short area though a little sand and rocks” was not all that short. The rocks were very steep and you had to climb them slowly! The sand was not packed at all and filled my shoes. This area may have only been about a quarter of a mile but it was treacherous. Note to self…California folks have a very different view of what an “easy trail to run on” is than I do! Once I got over the shock of what the trail was like I got into my groove and started taking in the amazing scenery. Much of the race was right along the ocean overlooking the crashing waves that I could clearly see and hear. The temperature was perfect and I felt like I had on a tank of oxygen compared to trying to breathe in the humidity in IL. This was my first race in Newton shoes and it was not a good one for them due to how much sand came through the mesh. But I loved the feeling of running a faster pace in them. My mantra through much of the race was “shorten your stride and lean forward” I felt very strong and mainly ran by feel but was pleased when I periodically glanced at my watch and saw my pace. My splits were as follows:
It seems that a pattern is developing…I do better running races jet lagged across time zones. Go figure. Mile 2 and 7 were the rock climbing and sand crossing section of this out and back course. If I had been on road I am confident I could have run consistently under 8 minute miles. This was a good effort but not maxed out due to concern of falling on the trail. I also felt a bit dehydrated in the dryness. I finished strong and earned 2nd place in my age group.
Getting my medal:
I have to say one of the best aspects of this race, in addition to the breathtaking scenery was being able to run it with my two dear friends Cindy from Maine and Craig for California. It's not so easy for the three of us to get together with one being an East Coaster, One a West Coaster and me in the middle! We had a great time!
Post Race photo by race banner: