Crystal Springs Trail Race- An humbling experience

While trying to figure out where to do my 12 mile long run on sat/Sunday, I came across the Crystal Spring Trail race hosted by Coastal Trail Run, a 5 mile, 11 mile, 22 mile, and 50K. I immediately thought to myself, I haven’t run any hills for so long, why not?  The elevation was 1800 ft or so, and since US half was like 1600, doable?  
Next time when committing to a race, please look more carefully at the elevation chart.  You see that climb from mile 1 to mile 6 was no joke.

The race took place at Huddart Park in Woodside, CA, home of some freakn gorgeous houses that I would like to move into! Wow, I parked like seriously 50 steps away from the starting area, and wtf? The starting area is also where you register? Scored. I quickly registered for the race, used a real bathroom and still have time to spare. Went back to my car and googled “googled how to run a hilly trail race”.  
The vibe is completely different from road races, people seemed chilled yet, bad ass. Some of the conversation I heard included this lady wearing a hydration vest, her friend asked if this was her first time using this gear, and she said, “no way!! I used this in the ironman last year!”. O.K……. 
The race director lined us up, explained something about ribbons being certain colors and some polka dot ribbon mean something else. I was like, whatever, I’ll just follow the pack (little do I know that it thins out in giant mountain).  
First half a mile was a single track, I was terrified of these single track because I’m slow and I hate to be slowing other people. Thankfully, this quickly turned into a wide fire road. I was still holding a 10ish pace for a little bit. Then the horror begins. 

Climbing up and climbing up. When in the hell is this gonna end?? Because my long sleeve was covering my garmin, and my goal was to enjoy this long scenic run, I didn’t bother to checkthe garmin. After about what felt like 3 hours, my garmin read 2.5 miles. ARE YOU FREAKN SERIOUS??? I started plotting if I will ever be able to finish this thing. I suck really bad at running hills. When people say they are not good hill runners, they slow down maybe 30sec to a minute per mile, but I slow down like 2-3 min/ mile, as evidence at Nike and US half. I begin to walk like alot, it was really embarrassing. I remember my ultra runner BFF Luisa would say, allow yourself to walk 100 steps and start running again. I would start counting and wondered whether I count only my left foot or left and right as one count…. Yeah, I was very miserable. 

Every time I see these switch back, my heart sank a little 


I continued this walk/run for another 3 mile or so. I kept asking myself, does anything hurt? No ( ummm maybe my ego), how’s my breathing? Ok.. Then why are you walking???  
At this point, there were maybe 5 people around me that we take turn passing each other. I was struggling to keep up with them, but I cannot afford to get lost here. Finally, I got up to the top at the buffet aid station. Wow, they have Oreo cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, m&ms!! And people were just hanging out, chatting. I also ran into Courtney and Alyssa ( apparently Aron and Naomi was also there but I missed both of them since they were both running different distances). That was a very nice encountered since I read their blogs and hoping I can kinda rub off their speed through osmosis. (not happening apparently) 
We chatted for a little bit as if we ran into each other at a Starbucks or something rather than a race, giggled about how crazy that hill was and how we were about to die. I was a bit relieve that I wasn’t the only one who felt like dying at mile 2.  
After other aid station, it was pretty much all down hill. I was the happiest running those last few miles. I felt like I was flying, although I was a little cautious about slipping and fall down the cliff and no one would find out and I would be eaten by coyote or mountain lions. I felt like I was running sub9 min mile, I passed about half a dozen people. Then it levels off towards a bit and I started running with the guy in a green jacket for the last stretch, I felt pretty good at the point. You seem everything is relative. When I was climbing up the mountain, I certainly was not a happy person. I hate myself for being so unfit to run trail, but at the same time, I admire those who were able to run this whole things (some of those ran this thing avg 7min/mile!!) 
Towards the last half a mile, I was talking to Mr. Green Jacket that if the terrain remains like this, I could run another 3 and make this a half marathon. He then gave me a weird look, and told me to go ahead and wished me luck…..did I say something wrong?? Finally…. I see the finish line.  

Also was able to catch up and chat with the girls! And what do bloggers do? Pictures of course! I look forward to get to know them better and run many races together! 





11 responses to “Crystal Springs Trail Race- An humbling experience

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