My next big race is 5Peaks Golden Ears. Im really excited to run this race. I grew up in the area and spent a lot of time at this park growing up. Since moving back to the area a couple months, I’ve been exploring the trails at Golden Ears park a lot by default since they’re so close to home! With the race only a month or so away I figured I would get my hands on a course map and go and give it a shot on Saturday afternoon.
I had no intention of pulling a great time, and the distance wasn’t intimidating at all. I saw one elevation on the course that made me gulp a bit, but figured I could take it. Plus, for every nasty uphill there is a wicked fun downhill! I had to modify my start a bit because of where I parked, and the fact that I had no desire to dodge everyone enjoying the first hot sunny day of the year on the beach. I had my map tucked into my pack for easy access, and most forks along the way have a map stapled to them to assure me I’m on the right track.
The first couple of KMS went by easy. I felt great, the weather was the best I’ve seen all year, my legs were happy and I was happy. I passed some beautiful scenery, but this man made waterfall was the one to have me stop my timer for a minute. Just gorgeous! Then I climbed over it.
So, how is it that a leisurely, perfectly mapped out and planned run turns into a distance record and one long ass day…..
According to the map, I was suppose to take the Alloutte Valley trail a few easy kms down to a dirt road leading to Mike Lake which I would eventually veer off of up an incline. Sounded easy enough. Looked simple enough on the map. I tore through the trail with my music going waiting for my turn off to Mike Lake…. admittedly, there was one point where I came to a fork, but with no real sign or map like on even the smallest turn off so far, I thought little of it and kept on my way. I kept running along the straight stretch until I started to hear 6 and 7kms… uh….. there’s no way? I then came to a sign “DANGER” it read… “LIVE LOGGING AREA”…. ok! Time to go back!
Then, I saw it…. laying there mocking me in the shrubs….
Stupid sign… you cost me nearly 5kms and way more minutes than I’d like to admit. May as well use this opportunity to take the obligatory long run selfie…
I was frustrated. I hadn’t even gotten to the first up hill section and I was already 7kms in by the time I hit the dirt road to Mike Lake. At first glance it looked like I would be running all the way UP the road… and in a way, I was, but the slight incline, my determination and maybe even all that hard work hill training I’ve been doing carried me up the hill with little problem. I just enjoyed the scenery. By the time I got to the incline, I was excited and high on life again.
I tried my hardest to run up that hill, but there was only so much running I could do before I gave in to climbing. It was a nasty one, but I made it through with little groaning. I wish it were possible to properly capture an uphill…. as much as I love this photo, I feel like it should be tilted upwards.
When I got to the top of the incline I was over 10kms and I knew I still had a long ways to go. I took a look at my map and saw that if I continued to follow the course map, I would have another whole incline and down hill stretch, that looked like an extra 4 or 5kms. I know I’m a strong runner, and my body has been surprising me every day lately, but I was out there by myself and didn’t want to chance it. After reaching 11 or 12kms in the downhill switch back, I decided to just head back.
I’m glad I made the decision to find my car. There were still a few kms to cover on the main trail before I got back to the parking lot. I was surprised at how strong and energized I still felt. I experienced a new feeling that day… after I heard km 12 in my ear buds, they just kept flying by… 13….14…15… What… already? As I neared the parking lot I heard 16kms… and I thought to myself… “Ive never done that before”.
Until Saturday, my road record distance was a little over 15kms, and the furthest I’d gotten in a trail was 13km. I set out that day aiming for a modest 1km over my trail record and look at me go!! I don’t even care about my times anymore, I learned early on this year that trail time and road time are incomparable. While my thighs and glutes are a little sore from the adventure, I actually feel quite amazing.