My sister (Dill) and I often run together in the Oakland Hills near our house, and a few weeks ago I came up with the idea that we could do a 10k, her first, with my dad. I suggested it to her, and she thought it was a great idea. So, we looked at the Coastal Trail Runs race calendar and picked the Berry Creek Falls run, which takes place in Big Basin. We trained a bit for it (not nearly as much as we should have, as we have been on vacation and had family visiting), and, yesterday, ran the race.
Big Basin is a beautiful area - towering redwoods, winding dirt single track trails, streams and waterfalls... I went backpacking there last year with some friends (click here for that story) and, when I saw that there was a run being held there, decided that we just had to do it. We drove the hour and a half to to the race venue yesterday, leaving the house at 5:50am, and arrived right on time to check in. Originally, I had planned to run with Dill, who is 11, at her pace, but the night before the race, I decided that I wanted to run for speed. I asked Dill if she minded if I ran competitively and let her do her own pace with our dad, and she said "Sissy, you just have to go as fast as you can! Of course!" So, that settled it.
I have done one other competitive 10k run, the run section of the 2014 Auburn triathlon, and completed that in 54 minutes. My goal for this run was to beat that time. So, the second the race began, I ran to the front, got in line behind the first four runners and trucked up the starting hill. As we continued up the hill, the runners in front of me gradually slowed, and I ended up behind only one other runner. We continued in this order for a while as the trail dipped, climbed, and wound through the trees. Soon, the (very speedy) runner in front of me disappeared around a corner, and those behind me fell further back and out of sight. As I ran, I thought, 'this is nice, to be running on my own here. I wonder how long it will be before those guys behind me catch up and pass me.' I continued on, and, when I got to the halfway point and still no one had passed me, I realized that maybe I could finish in 2nd place overall. That would be pretty cool. I'd never really run a trail run with the goal of beating anyone else before (I usual run to beat my PR), and I wondered if I could do it. I had some doubts, as the man I'd last seen behind me looked strong, but decided it was worth a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I changed my goal from beating my time to finishing 2nd and kept running.
The best part of this run, in my opinion, is the downhill. The course goes up, then down, then far far up, then far far down. On the far far up, I had to slow to a walk, and I tried to make up for that breach in quick forward motion by cruising on the down hills. The far far down was really a very far downhill, very steep, on a thin single track trail on which I raced around corners and over and under fallen trees, keeping a wary two eyes open to dodge the roots and rocks and hug the corners so I wouldn't, in my zealous charge down the mountain, careen off the edge and into the stream below. I think I was actually laughing out loud at one point as I raced down. Running full pelt down a steep trail is so much fun.
I crossed the finish line in one hour, six minutes. I didn't beat my PR (which is ok because this course had a lot more elevation than the previous one) but I did fulfill my refined goal of 2nd place overall and 1st place female, which is more than I expected of myself. Ten minutes after I finished, my dad and my sister crossed the finish line, Dill earning 1st in her age group and my dad earning 2nd in his. A great performance from all of us, and a great run. Coastal Trail runs always puts on really fun events, with excellent trails, very good organization, and great people. I would highly recommend running one of their runs.