I have been doing a winter cross country series that started in January. It consists of 4 races, a 3K, a 5K, an 8k and a 10K. All of these races are trail runs. So far they have been a lot of fun, but also a lot different from regular road runs I have done.
Here is a map of Stanky Creek:
There are several factors that go into a trail run that you have to consider if you want a good place and or time. The first thing you need to do is get near the front of the pack when the siren blows. This is also where all the fast runners start, so do not get up there if you can’t hang with them. Another tip is to take short steps because with the wet grass, leaves and mud everywhere, you are going to slip, fall and maybe twist an ankle, but that’s what makes it exciting! The third thing you need to know about is the potential for stopping due to the number of people all trying to cross the same bridge as you. The trail winds and the path is narrow, so I find myself playing NASCAR and plotting the right time to pass people on the inside or around a curve. And lastly, be prepared to get muddy and wet. I know that this upcoming 8K has a creek to cross. Someone will fall in.
I personally think that trail running is a little more challenging than running on the roads, especially when it is wet and lots of leaves everywhere. I have been pleasantly surprised with my times though. I was able to finish the 5K in 28:08 and hold around a 9 minute pace. I admit, I have not been running that much lately and was using these races as my motivator to get me going, so I wasn’t sure of what to expect. It has given me a good feeling going into my tri season. I really think that if I focus on my running I can get my pace down to under 8 minute miles after the bike, which is a goal of mine.
On the 5K I finished 17th in my age group out of 37 and 127th overall out of 400+ people.
This Sunday is the 8K race at Stanky Creek, and I think this distance will be tough due to my lack of running, but it should be fun.
I start my 16 week run focused triathlon plan Monday and I will blog more about that soon.