Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Xterra AZ run series - Estrella Mnts

Since running is #1 priority right now by default (haha - thanks to school), I decided to sign up for the Xterra run series in AZ. 4 races, all 20 k long and on trails, nice people around and an entirely new adventure...

Pretty much what the race trail looked like :-) From Angi's point of view.

JR and I decided last week that one week before the race would probably be a good idea to start training on trails (aka. doing one run on trails). The running route turned out to be a little bit longer then expected and after 1:40 hrs we made it back to our house...slowly because my legs were in pain. There might have been some walking involved...

Trail running is an entirely different ball game. Athletes (me very much included) always think: I am in shape, I can run ANYWHERE. The truth its that that statement is a big fat lie. After our run I was sore for days...to the point where touching my quads was even unpleasant...

On top of that: my understanding of trails are nice forest roads...not rocks and washes and sand...so I was in for a big treat including a mix of overall elevation gains of 1500 ft, sand, switchbacks and a lot of rocks. But I really wanted to do the race, try out trail running and I was just hoping not to come back with anything like this:

And I didn't!!! Not even a scratch!!!

The race was a blast. I wore my garmin just in case I would get lost and I had to map my way back out on the watch :-) I have to say the 12.6 miles were fantastic. Being uncomfortable with trail running makes the race very interesting, so I just tried to stay out of the fastie's ways, let them pass me and to have fun. 

The race had been fast in the past so I knew it was not going to be a walk in the park. 

The smart portion of my brain told me:

Don't go out too fast.

The competitive part of my brain told me:

Do whatever it takes to stick with the front girls.

I think I made both parts of my brain happy by racing a smart race but making sure I was in the mix. I usually seed myself in the 3rd or so row at a start like this where you go on single track immediately because I want to stay out of people's way. I think it is rude to faster runners to be trapped behind me - avoided by staying in the back: CHECK. Within the first mile I passed maybe 10 people, always keeping in mind that this is a long race and that I don't have a clue what I am doing. Turns out I was second after the start and I passed the leading girl, Kristi Johnson, within the first mile. All I had in my head was not to crash into a cactus or rocks and to have fun. 

Here is my favorite "come home with no scratches" equipment, great for all rookie trail runners like me:


Off course in purple for me :-)

Compression socks are not only for compression. Off course they are also for fashion (thanks to all the great colors) AND, who would have guessed: they make perfect shin guards!!! Thankfully they were not needed as shin guards THIS time :-) Also they help avoid get sand and dirt into your shoes, and therefore prevent hot spots!!!

12.6 miles can be long and I have to say that the many hills and the rocks kicked my butt. It is also a mental game as your brain goes from: AWESOME-attitude to $HIT-attitude within a few seconds. I tried to maintain the AWESOME attitude for most of the race :-)

After many miles of climbing followed by descending, followed by switchbacks, followed by a long sandy stretch, followed by another evil uphill the race was done. I ended up over 6 minutes ahead of second place, I learned a lot and I am super excited for the next race. Also I am sore in areas of my body that I don't even know could be activated during running :-)

Here is how I am going to prepare for race #2. I will learn and do the following:

- run downhill fast on technical trails
- do lots of high knee drills (because that pretty much sums up a trail run)
- learn how to take momentum with me 
- run lots of trails

I am so glad I tried trail racing. There are some real Mountain-goat-like-people out there and maybe someday I will be able to maneuver over the rocks like they do...maybe...Estrella was the most technical of the 4 races, so there are no excuses. Can't wait for January 6th!!!



Jill R. said...

Trail running really is fun. I feel like the people are also super nice and thoughtful, doing things like pointing out big rocks or logs that otherwise I would end up like your first picture!

Angi Axmann said...

So true Jill!!! Everyone is so friendly and funny!!! And all the guys have hairy legs and beards :-)