I love running the trails around Sacramento. They feel like home. I know what’s around the next bend in the path. I know where the water supplies are and the port-a-potties. I know where that root that I always trip on is and whether or not this is really the last hill. Sometimes, however, I like to get away and explore new trails. The Woodside Ramble is a 50k race in the coastal redwoods south of San Francisco.
Inside Trail puts on a good race, with the flavor of simpler races and smaller fields, on beautiful trails. The aid stations are far apart, but strategically placed and well stocked. The volunteers are wonderful and the organization was spot on.
Sometime during the night a storm moved in. We were expecting wet conditions, but I was hoping the predictions would be a little exaggerated. Turns out it went the other direction. So we gathered in the mud, wind, and rain and set off into the woods.
The steady rain made short work of my gear, even my hooded rain coat that usually serves me well. I went with a short sleeve tek shirt, light windbreaker, and the hooded rain shell. I also had a hoo-rag on as a beanie for extra warmth. I wore running tights, compression socks, and gloves. My Hoka Mafates and Dirty Girls Gaters to keep some of the mud on the outside.
I saw a lot of people running in much less gear and, although I’ve done that with success, I felt the cold warranted the extra layers, even if it meant staying wet longer. As the day progressed, it seemed that I made the right choice. Although the shorter distances and faster runners could get away with less, others out there as long as I was were beginning to show signs of hypothermia.
The shelter of the redwoods filtered some of the rain and protected us from the wind most of the time. Occasionally, a big gust would shake the trees and we would get a sudden shower or hear a tree, or part of one, fall near by. The falling trees were a little unnerving, and some became obstacles on the trail, but the accumulation of mud and water made the trail seem more like a creek in many places. By the time I reached the first aid station, at mile 5, I had already given up on avoiding puddles and just sloshed through them. The rain jacket was still holding out though and I was feeling pretty good.
The half-marathon started behind us and the fastest of those runners passed me just before their turn-around and were on their way back to the start. I didn’t need anything but a top off of water in my Orange Mud HydraQuiver Vest Pack and I was able to get in and out of the aid station without really stopping.
I recently realized that I needed to improve my nutrition on long runs and started using Hammer Recoverite. I realize this is a recovery drink, but I am finding that the extra protein helps tremendously during the race. I mixed two scoops in 20oz of water on the way out and 3 scoops on the way back, keeping my other bottle free for clear water. I needed nearly nothing from the aid stations (a pbj, some potato chips, Mountain Dew, and a nutter butter cookie) and I didn’t stay long at any of them.
Some time between the first and second aid station, I saw the leaders of the 35k coming back. One of the first two had to be Lance Armstrong, because, apparently, he’s into trail running now, and he won the thing. I guess there is some controversy about that, but I couldn’t care less. Trail running is an all inclusive sport. If someone wants to run, let them run. That’s all I have to say about that.
The trail became a constant slip and slid single track of mud, even though the rain had let up some and I reached the aid at 10.5 with 2:30 to make the 9 mile lollipop down to the bottom of the canyon and back up. When the rain let up and the wind wasn’t too intense, I could thoroughly the trail and the redwoods. As if the rain and wind weren’t enough however, and just to show who is really in charge out there, Mother Nature decided that the only exposed part of the trail was the perfect place to bombard a couple of us with pea sized hail. I was thankful for the extra layers and concerned for the other runner near me at that time. She was already saying she was extremely cold and I thought the hail would do her in. She trudged on, however, and finished a little after I did.
After the last aid, I was looking forward to a fast 6 miles down to the finish, but there are always more climbs than I expect and the trail seemed to go on endlessly. I finally came in to the finish at 8:08 (chip time) and that was fine with me, given the conditions and my training level.
The rain-soaked clothes left me cold and more chafed than I have ever been, but once I got a beer, in the warm truck, and some food, I was feeling tired, but fine.
Truth be told, I may need a couple days to recover, but any day that I beat the cut-off, don’t get lost, and don’t get hurt, is a good day on the trail.
all pictures in this post courtesy of Mailiyah Lee, except where noted- thank you!