The Things I Learned from a 25(ish)k Trail Race

The Things I Learned from a 25(ish)k Trail Race

The Things I Learned from a 25(ish)k Trail Race

For those of you who may not know a 25k run is equivalent to 15 miles.  I have a couple of crazy runner friends who have recently started hosting trail races.  Check them out atHardWin Adventures! I participated in their first 2 so naturally I signed up for the third.  This one however was an ultra… they had distances of 10k, 25k and 50k.  After trying to be coerced into the 50k (which I almost did), I decided to play it smart and just do the 25k.  I figured after running Boston a month and a half ago and then doing the half here – at least my legs would somewhat remember what it felt like to run longer than 4 or 5 which is what I’ve been doing mostly lately.Soooooooo, this race ended up being longer than a 25k – probably somewhere between 17-20 miles actually (or so it seemed), and it took longer to complete than running a marathon which is a full 26.2 miles!!  This race was CRAZY.  Would I do it again – of course.  It was beautiful.  And although I consider myself a much better road racer, I couldn’t have been happier than out in the middle of the woods that day.  There is something very liberating when you find yourself completely alone in the middle of the woods.Needless to say – I had 4 hours to think, and I came up with a list of things that I either discovered about myself, life or trail racing.  Actually I think running is a good metaphor for life.  A lot of these things can translate into every day.  So here ya go…

-Have a good pair of shoes.  Seriously.  Your shoes can change your life.

-ALWAYS HAVE WATER AVAILABLE.  All I could think about was the next water stop…  How far it was and how good that water or Gatorade would taste…ahhh.  Water is muy importante.  Most people offered me a swig of their water here and there though – thank God.

-Get a camel. No, not a living, breathing camel with a hump…  although there were many times during that race that I would have liked a camel, or a horse, or donkey, or a large pig…anything that I could have  ridden and given my legs a break.  But, a camel aka camelback, I should say – is a water pack that is like a backpack.  Very convenient for these types of things.

-Learn to embrace the wildlife.  At one point I named a fly Rex because he stayed with me so long.  At first I was PISSED and wished death upon Rex, but in my heightened state of having nothing else to do other than think and maneuver my way through the woods, I realized Rex was just doing his thing.  We became buds by the end of the race.

-Going downhill is much harder than uphill.  For me this statement is true – 100%.  I find myself always more comfortable going uphill – racing or in life.  Down hill I get scared and put on the brakes – even in cycling – I ride my brakes most of the way down.  I find myself happier when I have a goal or a bit of a struggle to get through – a climb.  If you’re climbing towards that goal then you can stand at the top of the mountain and enjoy the view once you get there.

-Stretch.  I never do it.  But today – 2 days later – I’m feeling things in my legs that I’ve never quite felt before.  I have to believe stretching would have helped.

-Pay attention to the signs.  This is super important when you are in the forest alone and there are signs pointing you home…  Also, I’d have to say this is pretty important in life.  Whether they are actual signs or signs from God – they are there for a reason.

-Where you end up is not as important as the journey to where you’re going.  Cliche, but true. I knew I’d get there eventually…but, I kept trying to soak up the moments along the way.  I met some awesome people.  By the end – we kept picking up more people – me, Bob, Logan and Drew finished together.  We ended up hiking most of the last few miles together enjoying convo and the scenery, all while trying to not thing about how much further we had to go.  There was one moment where I was alone surrounded by nothing but woods, with the sun peeking through some of the trees which made it seem like there was gold dripping down from the sky.  My thought out path was laid out in front of me and then the wind just came out of nowhere…  All I could hear was the wind rustling the leaves for what seemed like for miles. There was nothing else to worry about in that moment besides putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. It was truly inspirational and serene.

So, that’s it. A few of my random thoughts while running.  I hope you can relate in some way – even if you’re not a runner.  I’m sure there were other things that I came up with in my delirious state of running, but these are the main ones I took from my crazy, long, hilly, brutal but beautiful 25(ish)k trail race.