Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Students Run LA 5k Recap

My race photos are not always a reflection of my love for our sport :). I definitely feel gratitude and happiness about being out on a race course - happy to be running hard, finding out what my body is capable of and how I learn from every experience. Somehow the camera snaps when I must be in deep thought pain about pushing myself a little harder, a little faster - trying not to leave anything on that course. It never gets old, I still laugh when I look at my race photos and see this:





On Sunday I raced the Students Run LA 5k race in Griffith Park. My love for Griffith Park runs deep -when Jerold and I got married, we bought a house a few minutes away from the park and loved running and biking there. I have memories of many 20 + mile runs from our house to Griffith Park, through the park and back. It covers 4,310 acres of land, making it one the the largest urban parks in North America (source) and it boasts the most breathtaking trails.

There wasn't a lot information about the race course and I found out that it would be a little bit on trail in the beginning and then on the road for the remainder of the race. 
We arrived early on Sunday morning and it was so nice to not have to fight through thousands of people to park and navigate the bathrooms. As I ran a one mile shake out run and did a dynamic warm up, I realized that unless the course sharply veered onto the road, we would be running on trails for the race. The trail was beautiful, but it consisted of the type of sandy like soft horse trails that your feet sink into. I knew it would be a fun experience no matter what, a way to test my fitness and see where what my body is up to right now.





The atmosphere was very friendly and everyone was smiling and happy to be out on a beautiful Sunday morning. We were led in a group warm up, followed by everyone high fiving each other and saying hello to people that you didn't know. I loved this and felt like we were all part of a special community.






Finally the race began and we were off. Eyeing the course and testing things out on my warm up, I knew the best thing would be to get to far right or left and try to find some hard packed sand, but it just wasn't there. I felt my feet sinking into the surface and knew I needed to smile, run as hard as I could and let everything else go.

Mile one: 6:50
As my watch beeped, I glanced down and saw 6:50 and knew this wasn't a race about time today. It would be a race about hard effort and so that was what I would do.

Mile two: 7:11
Puffing from the effort of soft trail terrain. I run a lot on the trails near my home and for the most part they are pretty hard packed dirt trails, so this was definitely different. This was HARD.

Mile three 7:05
I knew in my mind, I had to hold it together (suck it up!) and run as hard as I could. There were zero women in sight and the guys I was running next to were in the same boat I was in.

.1: 6:28
Run hard to the finish - legs burning from the terrain, but happy with the effort!


I knew at that point, I had to be the first woman to cross, and yet I couldn't think about - I was so happy to be finished.

Final time: 21:13

Coach told me to throw time out the window on a trail race and think about effort. I knew that in my heart, but nice to hear it from him as thoughts of a 21 minute 5K flashed through my head (Bummer! Despite this, I had a great speed workout this week with 8 x 800's at 6:07-6:10 pace). 

Jerold had his bike and I ran about a half mile cool down afterwards. Later in the afternoon, I ran another 4 miles for a total of 8.6 miles for the day.

I met some really great people at the race! Two alumni who trained for their first marathon with the SRLA program.






I also got to meet one of the founders (Paul) and the director (Christine) of SRLA.





The Running Is My Recess t-shirts have arrived! Buy a shirt and help an at risk kid find the joy in running!





Lots of running going on in my world this week, so focused on recovering well and taking it one day at a time.


Hope you guys are having a great week!


Have you ever raced on soft trails?


What is one goal you have for your summer running?



xo,
Natalie

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