I had talked the talk, but never really walked the walk — or run the run.
That was until last night when I took on my first trail race. Now, I can truly confirm what I’ve always said: I love trail running.
Dan and I found out about the Psych Night 5K earlier this week, but postponed registering for it until the last minute. I was fighting with some sickness and we weren’t sure if it would work out. But, after a strong run on Wednesday, we both felt confident enough to sign up.
The race actually had two interesting components. First, it was a trail race. Second, it was a nighttime trail race and required the use of a flashlight.
After an easy-on-the-stomach dinner at home of pasta and edamame, Dan and I got dressed and headed out to the race site at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City. Upon pulling up, we realized the race was going to be pretty legit.
Whereas Dan and I just had small, hand-held flashlights, the majority of the crowd had headlamps. Most people also had CamelBaks and there were more Five Fingers running shoes than I’d ever seen in one spot before.
Still, Dan was feeling pretty good…
And I was feeling pretty good.
(I always look so dorky in pre-race pictures!)
So we decided to follow through with it and pick up our numbers. Along with registration, we each got coffee mugs. Unlike a lot of race shirts I’ve gotten, the mug will definitely be put to good use!
Then it was back up to the starting line for some stretching and shaking out legs out. Shortly after 8 p.m., the crowd of 200-ish drew closer to the starting line and I knew things were about to get going. Then we were off!
The race started out by jumping over a little creek then working our way up and open hill. Then we made a sharp left and… Came to a total stop. There was a small bridge that all the racers had to filter over before continuing on a narrow path. It was like merging traffic that came to a jam, but I eventually made it across and was able to pick the pace back up.
The sun had been slowly working its way down before the race, but there was still a lot of light in the openings. Once we were back in the woods, however, it got really dark really fast.
That just added to the difficulty of the rocky terrain, so I had to constantly watch the ground to make sure my footing would be (mostly) secure.
With the darkness and racing aspects, I decided not to carry my camera, but here’s a picture of the trail.
There were some points where I seriously felt like I was doing parkour, especially when the trail was still crowded with other racers. As we got going, I immediately loved that for all the brief uphills there were matching downhills. That helped me keep my pace up and push myself even harder. I was actually surprised when I made it to the turnaround and my watch only said 14:30. With the hold up at the beginning, I was sure I was going to have a slow time.
Fortunately, at the 5K turnaround, the majority of runners kept going on the 10K route. That meant the trail drastically opened up, which was a good thing because it was d-a-r-k by that time. I had to constantly remain on the lookout for rough ground.
Before I knew it, however, I was back out of the trail and could see the finish line. At that point, I was still convinced that there would be an extra loop. To my surprise, it was just straight back down the hill and across the finish line. I gunned it and finished with a time of 27:34 — one of my best 5K times ever!
Although I was happy with the time, the best part of the race was really just the scenery and adventure of it. I honestly loved every twist and turn — except those of my ankles.
Questions: Have you ever done a trail run? Do you prefer street races or trail runs?