I ran my second postpartum race (the first was the Marine Corps 10k in the fall), the Fountainhead 10k-ish trail race, run by EX2 Adventures, this weekend!
For the past year, I’ve settled into a good weekly routine of 1 run (on the weekend – and occasionally a second shorter midweek run but not usually), 2 to 3 yoga classes, and 1 boot camp per week.
That’s felt like a really good balance for me – I used to run 3 days per week before I got pregnant, and do 1 to 2 boot camps and 1 yoga class, but amping up the yoga frequency and keeping the running casual has just felt really right for me so far in my mom life. I really crave that time to be calm and centered, and the stretching feels really good.
A couple months ago, though, with the nice spring weather, I started getting the itch to do more running and a race. I wasn’t interested in trying to get fast and PR (that would be way more effort/time that I’m looking to invest right now), but rather something fun that was still a challenge but in a different way.
Enter: a trail race!
If you’ve been reading my blog for more than 2 seconds you know that I love trails – Matt, Riese, and I love hiking and try to get out on the trails as often as we can.
I’ve done trail races in the past, but it had been awhile – thanks to the blog (see my running race recap page to check out all the previous races I’ve done, including current PRs, etc.), I know I did the Burke Lake Park 15k Trail Race in 2014, and the XTERRA 10k Trail Race (so fun and SO MUDDY) and the EX2 Adventures Backyard Burn 5 Mile Trail Race in 2013.
So it had been 5 years since I did a trail race – wow!
Clearly, it had been too long since my running shoes and I hit the trails!
Over the past few months I started inching my mileage back up from a comfortable 3 or 4 mile run distance to a comfortable 6+ miles again, and it has felt good building that base, so when my running buddy Grace and I found this trail race, we decided the “10k-ish” (roughly 7 miles) distance would be perfect.
It felt like a good challenge, especially because on the trails it would mean a lot more time on our feet vs. 7 mile a road race, but at the same time nothing that would require hours of running training either, and no pressure with time.
Plus, trails = shade, which is important for summer races. Perfect!
Grace and I were getting pumped for the race, but unfortunately she found out last weekend that she wasn’t going to be able to do the trail race after all due to a family event that was scheduled that she couldn’t miss. Bummer! I missed you, Grace!
The race offers bib transfers, so I asked around to see if any of my usual running buddies were into it, but everyone was busy. So it felt like serendipity when blog reader Anna commented on my blog post last week that if the bib was still available, she was interested in it and would love to run together, too!
Fun! I always love meeting blog readers and making new friends, and I am very much a social runner so I was thrilled to have someone to run the race with.
Anna was super nice and has been reading my blog for years – so fun to meet her!
We had no problems finding each other at the start, and as is typical with smaller trail races, the starting area was super chill and it was really easy to check in, grab our bibs, hit the bathroom, line up, and take pictures with time to spare. ðŸ™‚
Let’s do this!
After the start, we spent about a quarter mile on the road and then quickly headed into the trails, which were gorgeous – so green.
But also: OMG so hilly!
Mental note: next time I do a trail race, train more on hills…!
When we got to a CRAZY steep section I told Anna I was going to need to walk the big uphills from now on or else I wasn’t sure I could make it through 7 miles, and thankfully she had no problem with that. ðŸ™‚
Most of the people around us were walking the uphills, too – there was one part where we basically needed a ladder to get up it it was so steep!
It took a mile or so for me to get into a groove, but once I did I started feeling good and really enjoying the race!
Trail races are nice because you are so distracted by keeping an eye on the ground/not tripping or twisting an ankle that it makes the miles fly by. Chatting with Anna was a nice distraction, too, and it was nice to not worry about time/pace and to just enjoy the surroundings and the company.
I brought my old friend the Nathan intensity hydration vest back out for the occasion – I think the last time I wore it was probably for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April 2017 since I haven’t been doing long runs since then!
I almost didn’t wear the vest since I knew we’d be taking our time at the water stops, but I figured it might be good to have my own water so I didn’t get dehydrated, and in the end I was really glad I had it! We still stopped at the water stops but I just took Gatorade instead of water and it was a nice extra energy boost.
I didn’t have any gels on hand at home but I figured I might want a little fuel since we’d be running for about an hour and a half, so I grabbed a random Mamma Chia squeeze snack packet from the pantry and brought that with me.
It ended up being perfect – I ate it slowly starting about halfway through and that plus the Gatorade did the trick.
The last couple miles went quickly, and we ran more of the uphills when we knew we were getting close. I was still feeling good although my quads and knees were feeling it a little on the downhills, and my right ankle allllmost rolled at one point so I had to be careful to not tweak it!
Success! I was excited to see Matt and Riese cheering for us at the finish line – they arrived mid morning shortly before we finished. ðŸ™‚
We came in just under 1 hour 40 minutes, which included walking up some of the uphills, taking our time at the water stops, taking a couple photos, etc.
7+ miles – a new postpartum distance record for me!
EX2 Adventures did a great job with this race – they were really organized, the trails were well marked, the aid stations were well staffed and supplied, and the post-race food game was on point.
I had done one of their races previously and they were as awesome as I remembered. They have a ton of races throughout the summer and now I want to do another one!
I was all about the breakfast burritos, but they also had pizza and all sorts of other stuff. And coffee!
The burritos were teensy so I had a few. ðŸ™‚ Riese ate some of mine and liked it, too! She was also really into the awards ceremony and was clapping for everyone. Lol!
What a fun morning! After saying goodbye to Anna, Matt and I took Riese on a short little trail jaunt before heading home. She loved it!
I’m excited to hopefully do more trail races this summer because I forgot how much I love them!
Great community feel, way more low key than road races, shade is everything in the hot weather, and trails are perfect for me right now where I’m not into the speed but enjoying just getting out there.
Medals are very interesting
Another special thank you to blog reader Anna for keeping me company out there, and for reading my blog for all these years! Until next time!
Have you ever done a trail race?
And/or: what’s on your race calendar this summer?
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