Things I Learned at My First Trail Run
I raced the Soaring Eagle 10 miler last Sunday. It was my first trail run/race. I didn't know what to expect. I had some preconceived notions. Like, I'd probably see a lot of minimalist shoes (didn't expect to see sandals). It would be laid back (it was - started a little late). I'm no stranger to trail running, but aside from high school cross country with its dips into thick Massachusetts woods, I hadn't raced trails.
Things I Learned
1. A Garmin (or GPS watch) is key gear. We were running blind, no mile markers. I tucked behind a dude with a Garmin for a bit around mile 2, but that was the last time I knew where I was. Hard to know which gear to engage when things are taking longer (think rivers, mud to the ankles, branches and twists) and you don't know if you have 3, 8 or 5 miles left.
2. Trail running shoes are 'needed' in sloppy conditions. My shoes so covered in mud, that a week later when I take my shoes off my socks are brown. The traction would be so helpful too. Slipping and sliding is very hard on ankles and knees. 3. I need to start doing the ankle alphabet. My ankles were weaklings! I turned them so many times I kept looking down expecting to see them swollen to grapefruit size. I did have to take 3 days off due to a slight sprain. Couldn't put any pressure on it for a day and a half.
4. Study the map before you set off. It was hard to navigate when I was in no man's land between two groups. I had to wait a few times for the group behind me to catch up so I could verify the course. I wouldn't have been a happy bunny if I had been taking it super serious.
5. Trail running is fun! I love running because it's like being a kid again. Free flying, spinning around corners, getting muddy, sweaty and out of breath. Woo hoo! Sign up for a trail race, and may you enjoy drier condition than we had. But that's Washington, right?
6. There will be good grub - like homemade organic veggie soup, brownies, pizza.. I'm in it for the food.
7. Oh, and the prizes are amazing.
For a list of great trail runs in Washington state check out Evergreen Trail Runs and 4th Dimension Racing.