After the deluge and long run yesterday, I was really tempted by a trail race out at Soaring Eagle Park in Sammamish. I've never visited this park before. I'd heard about the park in a fairly recent news article and had really wanted to get out there to visit.
It's a high mileage running week for me (46) and I'd had a longer mid-week run (9.6) plus the long run yesterday (14.75). The trail race had a 5 mile and a 10 mile option. I thought I'd probably opt to do the 5 mile race and be smart about the mileage. But after thinking through the options and realizing that my legs felt just fine after the long run I opted for the 10 miler for a few reasons.
I'd be more likely to all out race a 5 miler because I could. I can start off as slow as I want but if there is a mile to go in a race and I'm feeling good, I KNOW I will sprint it in. that's not what I need right now in training. Plus I really wanted to get a feel for the trails in this park. The 5 miler had a few miles off on the single track trail but the first and last mile was on a main, wide, manicured trail. boring! the 10 mile race started and ended the same way as the 5 mile but the majority of it wound around the park. It was a good decision.
I got to the park in seemingly no time at all. That was good to know for future use. it seems closer than Redmond Watershed Preserve to me and quite direct from Seattle. So I was there pretty early and ran into a friend who was running the 5 with a couple of her friends. It was nice to see her as I hadn't for a while. We all were chatting in the time before the race. Soon it was time to get a bib on and change out of my warm clothes and decide what to wear.
After the rain and wind of yesterday, the morning was a very comfortable 50 degrees with no rain and no wind. Perfect! Short sleeves and tights and I did bring mittens which I knew I'd stuff into my pockets once I'd run for a bit. I saw a lot of overdressed people!
We got a short talk about how the course was marked (very well actually) and trail conditions. With all the rain yesterday, it had brought down a lot of leaves which would be slippery and even a lot of trees. The race director had cleared quite a few off the trail but there were some pretty big trees down which we'd need to climb over.
And we were off just like that! The course is nice in that the first chunk of a mile is on a wide gravel/wood chipped and rather soggy trail. it was just long enough to string out the field enough so that when the turn to the single track happened, there was no delay getting on the trail. I had passed a fair number of people in the first bit but was content to settle behind the group once on the trail. it was quite pretty and I did look around a bit. The trail was technical enough and we were going fast enough though that I was in the trail-focused, in-the-present, stimulating attention locking zone pretty quickly. I love that feeling. Do you have a name for it? I can't quite pin it down.
I'd get passed every once in a while and then I'd pass periodically as well. I watched one gal almost roll an ankle a couple of times and then she obviously slowed trying to be more careful. Pass. After 2.5 miles, the 5 milers seemed to tucker out a bit so Pass. I had a 5-miler gal on my heels from 2.5 to 4 who stuck pretty close and was definitely using me as a pacer. That was just fine. I was enjoying myself and pushing a bit harder because of it. I figured I'd run a bit harder the first 4 miles and then slow for the rest of the course and that was just fine. My goals were just to finish strongly and not fall!
At 4, the 5 milers turned to go back a mile to the finish. They had an aid station there but I just continued on. I was carrying water so I had a swig and a gel while on the run. And all of a sudden I was alone in the woods on the trails just trotting along. I felt like I was slowing quite a bit but in reality the trails just became hillier and a little more technical than it had been for the first 4 miles. Yes I was tiring too but it just didn't seem to matter. It was such a pleasant day to be out in the woods.
At around 7 was the most challenging part of the course. There was a long downhill rocky section. I could feel my quads protesting as I had to slow because of the rocks. I came to a little boggy area, crossed a solid trail and laughed as I contemplated a straight up scramble. Get to it! then the trail did a leisurely loop with a more sensible decline and started back up the long rocky section I'd just descended. Oof! This was a power hiking section. Too steep to do otherwise. I was around other people at this point and they were doing the same.
Just when I was really wanting more water (I'd run out), I hit the last mile and the long mushy mile long section back to the finish. Ok. Here I was going to push as much as my tired legs would let me. I could see a couple gals distantly ahead of me and I was pleased to see that by the time I reached the finish line I had almost closed the gap to them. Strong running.
Woo! I had a huge smile as I finished and walked to the car. They had a nice spread of food which included yummy chili. I did have a bowl as I'd forgotten to bring anything to eat for afterwards. Results are not up and I am very curious as to where I end up. I'm delighted with how strongly I finished and how good my legs feel after so many miles this weekend. This bodes well for the next running events.
And I cannot wait to get back to Soaring Eagle Park and run some more trails.