Turtles Are Also Runners: First Trail Experience

I had some astonishing experience today attempting my first TRAIL RUN. First of all, trail running is a sport which consists of running and hiking over trails. It differs from road running and track running in that generally takes place on hiking trails, often in mountainous terrain, where there can be much larger ascents and descents. It is difficult to definitively distinguish trail running from cross country running. So today I finally had a chance to try this sport out. Without putting too many labels on it, trail running involves running, hiking, jogging and whatever it takes to get through the terrain.

I have never done trail before however felt fairly confident for some odd reasons. Of course the race nerves send the jittery signals to my legs and hands, other than that I was excited, relatively calm and was simply looking forward the event. The event called Spring Trail Series organised by Mountain Sports was surprisingly small. I’d say it was the smallest of all the races I’ve done so far. It was really cozy at the beginning and kinda odd at the end because I found myself running alone (giggling) – everyone were finishing by the time I was limping towards my second loop (supposedly, 2 loops, 6 km each, run).

I’ve done repeated loops before and must say I don’t like repeating the track – it kinda makes it harder, mentally 🙂 The course itself was alright, wasn’t too hard or way too amateur. I know more of awesome spots in this park; however I am sure council wouldn’t allow  about 100 people to destroy the soil. As I mentioned earlier it was a very small race with less than hundred people I think. I reckon I remember everyone’s faces 😀 Some people cheered me up along the way, some got my cheers… Others were odd though! And here is why!

The Turtle Story

Yes I am not the fastest runner, I am not fast at all. I am not targeting Olympics and not planning on taking running up professionally. I love running for the sake of running, not more not less 😀 I prefer achieving personal bests and try my best to have fun and stay healthy – all I care for. Although I admire elite runners I am sure I mentioned it before … they are often d**kheads! I APOLOGISE for my “French” but that was the most descriptive word of all I could think off 😀 I am not sure why but MANY (not all of course) athletes become very unpleasant people when they take sport so serious.

The example would be my run today. The race, as they usually are, was divided into groups: time groups, age groups, gander groups… We ran all together but elite runners started first and than all other wavers. Elites went first and went fast – there were maybe 7-8 guys and 2-3 girls. I was in the second wave starting with about 40 people.

It was a very hot day today and starting a running race at 8 am probably wasn’t the best idea (I’d prefer at least 7 am to be honest); however I understand that there are probably all sorts of regulations involved when you run in the park. Regardless, I was already fairly sun burnt and as the Sun was getting stronger with every minute I started to feel hotter and hotter. Besides my inner whinging about getting way too hot and dehydrated, running up and down the hills, jumping over tree roots, sinking in the sand and dust made me very tired on the 5th kilometer. I know I am not the fittest and if zombies invaded us I would have probably been the first one to die, I still though that 13 km trail is funner than 6 km, you know 😀

Anyway, I am getting to the point now… As I was half way through my first loop I met elites running again starting their second loop (impressive, hey). As I was running pass I could hear the wind blow these runners produce creating some extraordinary speed. I was impressed … till the moment I heard them yelling out “hey look, turtles!” (jaw drop!). Elites decided to tease slower runners because they ran too slow! Hmm d**kheads all I say, no more comments!

Dogs Don’t Do As Good As Owners 

Mountain Sports (the race’s organisers) decided to open a new category in their running series – running with your dog. This is very unusual and I’ve never even thought about it (probably because I don’t have a dog). Dogs with their owners went the last, after all other runners went through the start line. Therefore when I saw some four-legged mates passing me by I realised I was going really slow (giggling loud).

As I was completing my second loop I noticed the same guy going behind me who was in front a minute ago. As I kept loosing the vision of him, he would appear at the front and at the back, apparently changing his pace. However this time he was definitely at the front because I saw him going relatively fast and steady, almost disappearing on the horizon. His dog wasn’t as fit through – it literally fell on the ground and wouldn’t get up till I was almost completing the race. By the way, they still completed the run before me (LOL).

Running with dogs was a very unusual event. If you don’t like dogs it would have been a real nightmare because dogs are absolutely everywhere. Moreover, they had a dogs competition next door from the STS’s start line (not related to the race). What a coincidence!

The Trail of Thought

Turtles Are Also Runner: First Trail Experience my experience

I have never done trail running before so now when I’ve done it, I have learnt some important tips I would like to share. Prior to today’s STS I tried to investigate about trail running and did not find anything useful so I will try to put my learning together for someone starting a new run out and not sure how to approach it.

  1. Trail running is not like road running at all. With road running, many knows, you need to catch the momentum and you can go for ages (well, not me lol). Running on the road isn’t too hard in comparison with a trail adventure, in my opinion.
  2. The impact on your legs is also very different. I ran in my 7 years old none-trail running shoes which have holes all over them and souls almost came off. In other words, really bad and old shoes. I am still wearing them because my new expensive shoes ended up being a complete waste of money (long story why, just didn’t suit running eventually) and I simply cannot afford new shoes just yet. STS had several sponsor all over the site and Salomon (running & trail shoes) was one one of them, presenting couple of their shoes. I’ve been trying to buy trail shoes for some time now; however its either money or hesitation … bottom line, no shoes yet 😀 I tried their shoes on… Well, I must say, they felt very uncomfortable; however I have never stepped in trail runners before. I was planning to get some Inov-8 runners; however haven’t even tried them yet. Why am I going on about shoes for so long?? Well, I was going okay my first five km (of the race) in my 7-year-old-tore-apart shoes… However the last eight caused a lot of discomfort. Going up and down the hills, getting over roots, sand, dips, brunches, people and dogs can cause a lot of harm if you are not careful. Jumping over a root can easily result in a broken leg or twisted foot. Your feet will definitely say thank you if you get some good trail shoes for your race. My ankles and knees are very angry with me right now; however I cannot afford any luxury at this point in my life so I will just have to carry on running (giggle) :O
  3. Hydrate! I know I’ve been writing a lot about stitches and avoiding water when running in order to run stitches free… Well, I’ve noticed that anything over 8-9 km is fairly tiring for me. I do get madly thirsty as I am approaching my 7-8th kilometer. I am sure people are different but this is what happens to me. I didn’t take my running bottles with me and had two quick drinks at the only drink station the race had. It wasn’t too bad however smaller and more frequent sips could have saved me from getting a little agitated. You live – you learn 🙂
  4. Trail means running AND hiking as long as you can get there… Well, the fact that I’ve been training my legs at the gym for the last 2-3 months was just wiped away – I got really tired at the end of the race. I power walked probably about 800 meters on the last loop. My legs went wobbly at some point not wanting to go any further. I felt like this dogs I talked about which pass out on this trail (giggling). Bottom line – train for your tail! 

Mountain Sports organises trail runs all the time. If you are in Sydney and want some trail adventure I recommend you to try them out. Although I found this race tough I still think Centennial Park is an easy course! Summer is coming and Manly Dam might be a little more challenging. I am planning on going there and have a trial run as soon as I recover here 🙂

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