First Win Ever: Dirty Duo 25km Trail Running Race, 10 March 2012
Earlier in the year I was wrangled into signing up for a 25k trail race, theDirty Duo (run portion only), by a classmate. With only a couple months to think about it and even less time to train, I went into the race thinking about giving a good effort throughout and really trying not to burn out before the end. Little did I know, I would pull out of the pack and finish in 1st place! It was pretty special as I’ve never placed 1st overall in any race and it was definitely weird to hear it when they announced my name. I finished the 25km in 2:22:47, over 4 min ahead of the 2nd place runner.
For those that don’t know, trail running is a completely different running sport than a road race. Trail running is essentially a foot race through the woods on unforgiving terrain such as narrow pathways, steep climbs and descents, jagged rocks, roots, river beds, fallen trees, you name it. As such it requires absolute concentration to maintain your footing throughout or you’ll fall flat on your face. Even worse, you could trip up and end up hurting yourself pretty bad. Because of the difficult terrain, it makes racing even more difficult. Not only do you have to maintain try your speed but now you have to deal with obstacles and usually lots of elevation changes. This means that trail races take a lot longer and are a lot more strenuous than road races (a 21.1k road race takes me about 1:19 for comparison, versus 2:22 for this 25k trail).
As for the race itself, I played it fairly safe as I hadn’t been on the trails at all this year. One runner, within the first couple kilometers, took an early lead and set an incredible pace. Thinking that he was too strong of me, I left him go and kept my own fairly brisk pace, maintaining 2nd pretty consistently throughout, although I did feel pressure from 3rd place somewhat behind me. At around the 16 km, I reached the crest of a long climb and I was surprised (him too!) to have caught back up while he was quickly grabbing some water at an aid station. As soon as he saw me, he threw down his cup and bolted back into the trees. I caught up and passed within the next couple kilometers. From there it was just pure personal drive and self motivation to get my tired body to the finish. My legs almost cramped out on multiple occasions but I ended up pulling through and taking the win.
I also wore compression pants for the first time racing. The temperature was a little cool and so I wanted to make sure my joints would stay warm. I wore the CW-X Ventilators, which have some vents at a couple places to help prevent overheating while still providing compression to the entire leg. I truly believe that the compression pants saved me a couple times from going into a full out leg cramp and having to stop to sort it out. I could really feel the pants keeping everything tight and together, especially in those tough moments. For more on compression pants check out my blog post about them here.
So overall, a great day. I was fortunate enough to have 2 of my classmates running as well one of their dads. It’s really nice to know there are other people you know running with you. Everyone had a blast and I’m sure we’ll be back next year!
** Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the actual trail running, just the start and finish on the road, but if I do get some, I’ll definitely post them. **