Xterra Half Marathon {1st trail race}

The Xterra half marathon has been on my Google Calendar for months before I signed up. My inquires into trail racing started with this race series. Right after the Wild West Relay I started pondering the possibility of running the Xterra full marathon. I told a few too many people of my crazy thoughts and some how I got talked into an every longer race…the 50K I plan on rocking at tomorrow.

Initially I was going to just skip this race all together but Chris has been legitimately playing around with running and wasn’t opposed to the idea of a 5K, especially if it were on trails and involved some downhill. Turns out the Xterra race offered a 5K so we both signed up – a 5K for Chris, a half marathon for me.

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Pre-race photo. Gotta love fall races and 8am start times!

By this time I had already signed up for the Bear Chase 50K so the plan was to keep the Xterra half a training run. I did this multiple times in the past with my marathon training so it really did sound like a good plan. I’d get my first trail race in before the 50K, I’d get a tshirt for covering the distance and Chris get to run his first race. Winning all around! Except for one tiny detail…I accidently on purpose forgot to keep it a training run.

It was a smaller race so parking, packet pick up and porta potties were a breeze. We also lucked out big time with beautiful, sunny weather! Everyone gathered round for some quick instructions and then we were off. The half and full marathoners started first with the 5K’ers not far behind. The first stretch was flat but before long we started our 4 mile climb. I was prepared for this. My plan was to slow it down and just my breathing/heart rate under control. I did just that. No walking required! I’m actually pretty proud of myself for being smart on the uphill.

Unfortunately I think I used up all my brain juice on the climb. As soon as the trail flattened then dropped I started getting stupid. I let my legs and gravity do their thing – pull me downhill, quickly. It felt rather stupid to just let my legs go crazy at mile 5 of a half marathon but it was the fun, downhill kind of stupid. I like fun stupid…its fun!

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The Garmin Stats – Click to Enlarge

The fun didn’t last forever. As I made my way to mile 9 the trail started climbing again only this time it was more technical with a lot of large rocks to bounce around on. My stupid went form “ooh, downhill, go fast” to “ooh, lets be a mountain goat!”. I’m not exactly the nimble mountain I’d hoped but it was still fun and I didn’t break my face!

Side Note: The course was a lot of fun with great views. The trail was easily runnable – fairly smooth, minimal erosion, manageable rocks. The climbs had easy switchbacks when needed and the downhills were hard packed so you weren’t sliding around. A few “river crossings” were required and one area was muddy but it was all easily avoided. Overall, great course!

Considering the complete lack of conservation in the first portion of the race my legs did an incredible job on the second climb. There were a few areas rocky enough to justify walking but for the most part I was running. The course finished with a downhill and once again I just let my legs go for it. I was feeling pretty good, had energy left and was really loving the downhill.

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I could hear the finish line long before I could see it and as soon as the single track opened up to the trailhead I could see Chris on the sidelines. I ran past him with face full of grins. I may have raced incredibly stupid but I had fun doing it. My toes were angry with me at the moment the rest of my body was doing great. This was fun. It wasn’t easy, but it was fun!

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I finished my first trail half marathon in 2:17:47 which put me just 22 seconds behind a 3rd in my age group. I had been consciously chasing this girl for the last 2 miles and for the second time this year I failed to run down the 3rd place AG finisher. I’m kind of bummed I didn’t run just 22 second faster but I am incredibly proud of my race and my bodies ability to survive with minimal interference from the land of Common Sense.

Should this have been a much more leisurely training run? Definitely. I started chasing/hanging with people before we even crested the first climb. That is plain stupid, especially for a training run. Did I take the downhills too fast? Heck yes, I should not be reading 7:51 on my wrist during a half marathon, downhill or not! Was it worth the fun? Yup…this time!

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Post Race Smiles – I ran into Rebekah from The Blonde Runs after the race!

I didn’t quite pull off a “training run” in the traditional sense but I think I learned a thing or two about myself and racing on trails. I figured out how easy it is to get competitive even when it really didn’t matter. I realized I am quick to ignore my watch if I know I’m doing something wrong. I found out my toes + shoes really, really hate the downhills. I figured out which shorts I’m not running the 50K in. But most importantly, I learned just how quickly I can go from smart racer to stupid racer.

I’m glad I got the stupid racing out of my system, at least for a little bit. I cannot get stupid at mile 4 during the 50K! If I do I’ll have a miserable race. I thought about this a lot while running the Xterra half and decided I need to keep it reigned in for at least the first 20 miles. If I still have a little stupid in me I can play around with it then…but until mile 20 I need to keep my head on straight! Here’s to hoping I can fake some smarts tomorrow!

As for Chris’s race? Well, I missed out on it because I started before/finished after him so I asked him for a quick race recap for the blog. This is what I got…

“I started out running fast. Then I ran fast in the middle. Then I finished fast”

I guess I did ask for a quick recap! And he isn’t lying – he did run fast, especially with the climb the race started with! Chris finished his first trail 5K with a time of 29:09 which earned him 1st in his age group! Yea, that right there is proof trail races are a completely different beast than a road race! The technical stuff slows everyone down!

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Two great race photos without posing?! Not fair!
Photo Credit: Pikes Peak Sports

Overall, it was a great day! The entire race went smooth, we didn’t get lost or bloodied on the trail and we finished off our morning with a trip to Culver’s! Even better? Chris was asking about other races in our area before we even got home!

Bonus Points: If anyone knows the TV show Chris’s “recap” is mimicking I promise to be your friend forever, especially if you can tell me who says it and what they are talking about!


Xterra Half Marathon {1st trail race} — 14 Comments

    • Thank you! It was a lot of fun.

      Honestly, I found the trails a lot easier to train on. You don’t get as bored, you are basically required to take walk breaks and sometimes you can make mtn hiking count as training! Plus, in my experience, your legs/body recovers a lot faster because its not pounding pavement. Definitely need to pay a little more attention to where you put your feet, but over all I like it a lot more than the roads!

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