So it’s been a year since my last race (even longer since my last trail race) and I haven’t been training a whole lot lately because of my ball of foot roblem. I wasn’t even sure if running this race was smart, or if I’d be able to do it without injuring myself. But – based on what my doc said I figured I could give it a shot! I bought a gel insert for sesmoiditis type issues and wore more cushioned trail shoes. I was pretty stoked to be running in O’Neill Park since it has beautiful views and was the first place I ever went on a trail run. It was like a homecoming! The race started at 830AM which was a good time. We arrived early and I had a chance to say hi to Pete and Corrine who were working their table. It’s always nice to see familiar faces at these events. I also saw Sue who is a running machine (literally). Sue has one pace and never stops to walk so it was no surprise when she passed me about a mile into the race while going up hill. I saw her on the second hill as well which was super steep – and she was the only one running! I thought I’d catch her on the downhills but I never did. Shows you what a difference it can make in your time if you can run all the hills.
The course was pretty rough in the first few miles with two fairly large climbs. I worked my way up the first one pretty well and hit 12 minutes at mile 1. I was hoping to finish the 5 mile race in juts under 60 minutes (12 minute pace). So far so good! Apparently the running/fast hiking combination I did up the first hill caught up with me because on the second (steeper) hill I was winded. Everyone was walking in my group so I didn’t feel so bad but I lost a lot of time and was over a 13 minute pace by mile 2. My foot – so far so good!
The views around mile 2 were some of the best on the course (as pictured above). After passing the aid station at mile 2 we had a long downhill section which I took full advantage of. I was flying by a bunch of runners who were very carefully watching their footing and were probably not regular trail runners. Sadly, by the time I got to the bottom around mile 3 I was having a hard time catching my breath. Lack of running plus pushing hard during the first 3 miles was starting to catch up with me and some of the runners I passed coming downhill were now passing me. Oh well.. I was going to keep plugging away even though I felt 60 minutes was pretty unlikely. I enjoyed the next section of single track and was soon on the home stretch which was on pavement. Yuck! I was pretty toasted here and did several walk/run intervals before making a dash the last quarter mile or so. My final time was 1:01:something. I think around 1:01:30. Not too far from my goal which was a bit surprising. The ball of my foot had started bugging me around mile 4 and definitely hurt when I finished. Considering how I bombed down some of those hills that was not a big shock. I was worried when the pain continued after the race for an hour or two (about a 5 out of 10). Fortunately the pain was gone after lunch and my foot feels great today, even after a softball practice. I will take at least the week off and try again on the weekend. I’m hoping the problem is slowly going away but I’m not going to pound the mileage and make it worse. I DO plan on running the Into the Wild 10K in 2 weeks and the last OC Chilli Run (sub 60!) in 4 weeks.
Ah, what a glorius weekend!
Happy Running & Dirty Feet,