This past Saturday, I ran a 35k trail race in Woodside. There were some positives and negatives about this experience. As I sit here typing, the fact that my legs are continuously shooting up shards of searing pain keeps me coming back to the negative, but I'll try to pull out the positives too.
Let me start off with a comparison of the course maps. This is the official course map--the trails I was supposed to be on.
Okay, stay with me here. It's a bit confusing. At least, I was confused. Top that off with low blood sugar and tired legs, and I was REALLY confused. But then again, navigation was never my strong point.
So my course was the pink-green-pink loop. Little streamers in the trees were supposed to indicate what trail I needed to be on. So going out--easy--just follow the herd of runners. The green part was straightforward--out and back. No problems there. But THEN, this pink section again. So I, mistakenly, followed the pink streamers going back, not realizing that I was supposed to be following DIFFERENT pink streamers. I was alone by this point (well, I was following the second-placed woman, but she got lost too and took a turn heading back up the hill--we never saw each other again).
This is what I ran:
This is taken from my Garmin, post-race. If you compare it to the top map, I was a WEE-BIT off course coming back--it was apparently supposed to be some kind of loop. I'm still not sure what I did or how I ended back at the finish.
I started to get worried when I was completely on my own at mile 18--like--not even a sign of other runners. Then, I hit mile 22, which was supposed to be the end of the race, and I was still out (slightly bonking, mind you), in the middle of the forest. I tried dutifully locating those pesky pink streamers, and managed to locate the finish, but when I came in the opposite direction that other runners were finishing, I realized that I may have veered slightly off course.
The only positive to come out of tacking on an extra mile, phenomenally bonking, and running for almost 4 hours, is that I did not throw my shoes at the race directors or cry. I'm still so impressed that I held myself together.
Another little "oops" by the race directors? The course map said the elevation gain was 3000 feet. And what did Garmin have to say about that? Try 5000 feet. I am still absolutely thrashed.
HOWEVER. The trails were magnificently, and I mean magnificently beautiful. I dodged banana slugs and deer and wound through towering redwoods and a palatial canopy. The climbs and descents were endlessly long and character-testing.
I find myself actually looking forward to a road race next--I think I'm much less apt to get lost.