Okay, this one was FUN.
On Saturday, I got up at the cracka dawn and drove to Point Pinole for Brazen’s Dirty Half Dozen. The Dirty Dozen and Half Dozen are 12 and 6 hour trail races where participants run as many 3.37 mile loops as they can/want to in their allotted time. In the last hour of each event, a 0.67 mile loop is available for runners who want to add more laps but don’t want to do the big loop again.
I am nowhere near ultra distance but the event sounded super fun. In the inclusive spirit of Brazen Racing, anyone who completed even one loop was considered a finisher, getting a rad medal/coaster and a hoodie! With 10 miles on my training plan for that day, I decided to redeem a volunteer credit I had and get a taste of the ultra environment! 3 loops would give me the exact mileage my Portland plan called for.
The 12 and 6 hour events started at 7 am and it was FREEZING. Cold and seriously windy. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to bring my lightweight long sleeved top for chilly running. Major fail. I was wearing a big cotton sweatshirt at the start and it was just too cold to take it off.
The loop was really fun. It started along the water with before heading up into the park. The first half of the loop had some gentle climbing and some short semi-steep climbs. With 6 and 12 hours of running ahead of them, most people sensibly walked all the hills, even though the race had just begun. I ran them all (go me!) but was tempted to tell everyone I passed that I only planned to do 3 loops.
After a few hills, there was a brief section of single track that spit us out at the aid station. The last section of the course was on trails in the park. This section was shielded from the wind which was nice but for some reason, it felt hard each time I looped around.The first loop was all about pacing myself and figuring out the course. I ran without music for the first lap and just observed the scenery and half-listened to other runners chatting with their friends. Almost immediately, the sweatshirt was annoying and sweaty. As I ran, I kept thinking how much I ****LOVE***** trail running. Must do much, much more!
As I headed under the arch for the second loop, I stopped briefly for a cup of water and a quick hamstring stretch. My left hammy was doing this weird twingy thing that I noticed sporadically when I was training for RnR San Jose. Nothing major but only 3 miles into 10, I didn’t want it to get any worse. I wasn’t quite ready to ditch the sweatshirt even though I had the sleeves shoved up to my armpits.This loop was a little mentally challenging, as the middle of runs usually are for me. I kept cruising. Kept running up the hills. Found various people to pace me until they would inevitably walk the hills and I would lose them. Again, NO JUDGEMENT. THEY WERE RUNNING ALL DAY. WALK THOSE HILLS, PEOPLE. I still hadn’t put in my music, adding a little mental training for Portland. I’m trying to get into the habit of using music as a little treat to look forward to, in the hopes that it will get me through tough marathon moments.
For loop three, I ditched my sweatshirt and put tunes in. I felt AMAZING. It was probably the most enjoyable three miles I have ever run. I looked forward to each section of the trail. I let my legs out a bit since I didn’t have to conserve and noticed that I felt great. In the last mile, I saw Amanda, an absolutely incredible ultra runner (and sister of my close high school friend) who was doing the 12 hour event. TWELVE. HOURS. This lady WON the 6 hour event for the women last year. Really, really inspiring. I waved hello and was secretly happy that the only time I saw her on the course was when I was running strong and feeling awesome. When I told her I had signed up for this race, she warned me that it’s a total “gateway drug” to ultra running and she’s right. I was SO tempted to add on another loop and then maybe walk another one after that. I just wanted to keep running but I knew the smart choice was to stop at 10, as planned and pain-free.
Can we just take a moment and talk about how at 10 miles, I was dying to do 3 or even 6 more?! WHO IS THIS ME?
I came into the finish for the third time feeling fantastic. I felt a little awkward finding Jasmin, the race director so she could dig my medal out of the box. LOL. She was super nice about it and congratulated me for finishing 10 miles. I told her how excited I was to do the race again next year and add more mileage! After grabbing an oreo, I headed back to the car with a big ‘ole smile on my face.