Crystal and I drove back from Marin where we'd spent New Year's Eve super early. I was quite sore, mostly in my quads, from our hike the day before, and I was exhausted from the late night and early morning. Since the race wasn't until later that afternoon (thank goodness) I was able to fit in a nap beforehand. Unfortunately it ended up being one of those naps where you wake up feeling groggy instead of refreshed. I left about an hour before the race and headed to Auburn. Now I'd never actually been to Auburn so I completely underestimated how long it would take to get there. I ended up getting to the start literally just as they yelled go! I jumped into the back of the pack so I could pull myself together a bit and then I was off and running!
The first few miles were mostly downhill on paved roads winding in the American River Canyon. The temps were cool and there was a beautiful mist hovering over the river way down below. It was so gorgeous, I wish I had stopped to take pics! About a mile in the 10k split from the 10 mile and the runners thinned out, leaving just a couple runners in eyesight. Soon we entered our first stretch of trail, a steep rocky uphill, which I immediately chose to power walk, as did those in front and behind me. Then we were back on the roads through about mile 5. The rest of the course, however, ended up being mostly on trails and got more challenging as the miles went by. It was an extremely hilly course, so I just allowed myself to walk any steep sections and then take advantage of the flats and downhills. Speaking of downhills, there was about a mile long stretch on the road that was at such a steep decline that I was literally afraid I would lose control of my legs and go tumbling down to my demise! And man, I now know what people mean when they say that downhills will trash your quads : /
not my pic, but this is what it looked like (source)
The final third of the course was really tough for me because the single track trails had become so muddy. It had been raining the previous couple days, and combined with a bunch of runners traipsing along the trail, things had become pretty slick and muddy. I was wearing my regular road shoes (I've since smartened up and invested in some trail shoes) and was slipping and sliding all over the place. In fact I had to walk most of the last mile just so I wouldn't fall on my ass (it was a New Year's miracle that I stayed upright the entire race!). It started to rain during the last few miles, making things a lot muddier and making me a lot colder and miserable and ready to be done. I was trying out a fueling supplement called Vespa (more to come) and so I'd decided not to take any gels, etc. In hindsight, I think I should have taken a Gu for the last half.
I came in at 2:00:34, much later than I had predicted but SO glad to be done. My fingers were frozen to the point that I could barely grab my car key and I couldn't even grip the steering wheel! I was soaked and chilled to the bone, so I peeled off my muddy, wet clothes and demolished shoes and turned the heater up to high where it remained the entire hour long drive home. I think I could have certainly done better under different circumstances, but I still enjoyed the run, got more trail experience under my belt, and kicked off 2011 with a nice, long run. That make it a win in my book : )