Feat: Paramount Ranch Trail Run 2021
I ran my first race ever on Saturday, December 18th, 2021. It was a 10k trail race. It was magical.
Before this, I had an inconsistent hiking relationship with the trail. I found myself constantly distracted from hiking, dating back to January 2021. It was upsetting, as I had built a routine the year prior and promised myself to be better as a New Year's resolution.
The truth is, I allowed this to happen to me. Life can throw obstacles and unexpected situations to everyone, but I believe it is up to the individual to incorporate some level of discipline to build a routine. In this case, a weekly routine to keep up the fitness. I continued the pacing from December 2020, continued up until the last week of January, then I allowed myself to succumb to my distractions.
It started with a day or two lapses each week, and slowly built its way to a week or two of no exercise. I noticed the drop in stamina, the increased soreness, the lack of motivation creeping in, and the dread of distance. I found myself battling with my Journey To Self motto - Focus on the journey in front of you, not the distance ahead of you.
I started picking up the pace in the Spring but the bugs, heat, wrong timing, and all the other random excuses were incredibly distracting. I decided to purchase a foldable treadmill, got it stationed in my living room, and got to work. No more excuses, I told myself.
In the Summer, I was once again, completely distracted by life obstacles. This time a relocation. I devoted my all to it, turning a blind eye to exercising, selling, and donating almost everything. Sadly, this became a failed relocation after 3 months of planning, preparation, packing up, and almost finalizing the move. Shit! half of my belongings were already in the other state. I remember the day it all arrived back to the empty living room, I thought the pain would rip through my skin. I swallowed my anger and shame in silence as I boiled endlessly inside. This, along with some lost friendships threw me into absolute chaos. Mostly chaos of the mind. It was dark, it was ugly, it was lonely, and I was incredibly miserable. it was brutal.
Fall arrived, it was almost the end of October, it felt like a blur, it went by so fast. I decided to push myself out the door and into nature. Perhaps, I’d be able to think a little clearer in my blank state of an endless rollercoaster of the mind. It was the busiest it’s ever been up there, playing several scenarios over and over and diving into future alternates of events. I hated that period but let it play out so I could move forward. Being in nature that day was refreshing. I went home and decided I will go out again, this time with my hiking sticks.
I climbed up a steep hill at Las Llajas trail and later found myself going down a steep downhill. At first, I tried to control the steps down but the steeper it got, the more my legs longed for a downhill run, I obliged. I was nervous at first, being out of practice for so long but later, I decided to let loose and be free. Fuck it, if I fall, then I will laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and keep running. So run I did, downhill, screaming “Oh shit, oh fuck, ouch, ouch, ouch!”
I made it down with sand in my sneakers. I was giggling like an excited puppy, it felt liberating. A mountain biker caught up to me and asked if I did cross country… I had no idea what that was. We chatted a bit about it, I got a nice education and my curiosity grew! I needed to know more about all the races out there but most of all, I was curious about trail races.
My research began and I discovered a trail race called “No Name 5025” which was to take place on December 4th. I psyched myself and decided to start training for the 10k. Yes, I should have probably started with a 5k as I had zero experience in this field, but due to my desire to one-up myself or should I say challenge myself too much sometimes, I decided 10k would be a good match. If I am being brutally honest, it seemed like a better torture process to pleasure fulfillment. Don’t worry about the implications, use your imagination as you may. My training began on Oct 30th. Oversabi at its finest.
I tested several trails and finally committed to Marvin Braude Gateway, Cheesboro, and the Northgate trail across from Las Llajas for practice. Other honorable mentions are Stough Canyon, Mount McCoy Cross, and of course, Las Llajas. Marvin Braude was a favorite for the long run and Northgate was excellent for the short one. As you can see from my tracking, the first day of training wrapped up at 2 hours and 4 minutes with completion of 6.25 miles which was a 10k. With my self-created training plan, I mixed both 5k and 10k runs in my training program. I was under the impression that I would hit 1 hour and 30 mins or at minimum, 1 hour and 35 mins by Dec 1st. Looking back, I am not sure what speed god I thought would make that possible. No voodoo trick, nada. My brain believed it and my legs laughed at my unrealistic expectations. By November 30th, I made my peace with 1 hour 50 mins and drank some good ole Rasputin stout to drain every tastebud in my mouth.
I knew nothing about running forms or running properly. With the help of several blogs, forum chats, and online videos, I slowly worked my way into being a better runner than I initially was. I went from hating the idea of running to adoring the process… to an extent.
Another help in the process was caffeine… actually, latte and cappuccino. I don’t know why it became the new obsession. It was a weird craving after every run to douse myself in a mouth-watering latte or melt my throat with a steaming cappuccino. Ooohhh, the absolute satisfaction of that creamy, hot latte touching my tongue after a sweaty run, absolute delight!
On Dec 1st, I tried registering for the No Name 10k Trail Race and found out there was no 10k. Apparently, it was an old poster and the new one was for 5k, 15k, and higher. On top of that, I had booked a gig for Dec 4th that I couldn’t say no to. Torn, I searched endlessly for another trail race. I needed to complete another, I needed to see it through. I already had so many roadblocks and losses for the year, I just needed one thing. I needed to successfully see one thing through from beginning to the end.
I found a trail race for Dec 18th called the Paramount Ranch Trail Runs. This was it, no exceptions. This also gave me the extra time needed to keep practicing.
After a month and two weeks of practicing with an actuality of 17 days, I was ready.
I had my last day of training on Dec16th and broke my training PR (personal record) hitting 1 hr and 45 mins from start to finish. My knees were incredibly sore. I had a day of rest, drove out in the evening to get my bib and shirt, then back home to a restless night. I woke up at 3:30 am, the deal day had finally arrived. It was incredibly cold at 28 degrees. I had four layers of clothing plus a vest for additional protection and two pants on, this was going to be a heavy race. I arrived late at five minutes to start time. Why? The race was to start at 6:15 am, I woke up at 3:30 am, zombie walked the apartment endlessly, and struggled to stretch my stiff, and incredible sore body. I didn’t heal fast enough in a day. I should have had two days of rest before the race, lesson learned.
The race started and I felt like I was in a sardine can, this was new! I was so used to the emptiness of the trail in general. I wasn’t sure what to expect as this was the cherry popper for me. I battled to get my headphones on, adjust my mask, breathe through my freezing face and clogged nostril, I was a mess for the first five to ten minutes. Eventually, my eyes started adjusting, and I reminded myself, these people are my ally, your space is their space, open your mind to endless possibilities, and remember, jogging is better than walking.
Yes, jogging is better than walking was my daily chant on the trail while training. When I felt the need to give up with the false idealism of running out of breath which was every occasion, I’d play my self-coach scenarios in my head and let my imagination travel. Scream at me o wise one! Give me a motto to chant along so I may not be defeated. And that’s how it began. Crazy? Yes, what else is new?! How do you think self-motivation/discipline/any fucking self thing works?!
Back to the race - I finally found my footing and mixed it with walk/run/jog. My lips were eventually numb and I didn’t give a fuck. Buggers, good, running nose, excellent! I kept going, I watched the sunrise. No, scratch that, I ran as I saw the sunrise. I was at a steep top as I saw it rising, I almost felt like we made eye contact, we aligned in my brain. It was magical, forget the freezing face, I forced a smile and patted my shoulders. Well done, I murmured as I jogged off in continuation of the race.
Finally, there it was, the finish line! I thought it would never arrive and when it did, I longed for more distance. My adrenaline was pumping, I wanted more! I didn’t feel the cold or bugging knees asking me to calm down, nope! I wanted more, I needed to be back there in nature again.
I got my medal, got some sandwich and cookies, and zoomed off for some nice coffee. A few days later, the results were in and I completed the 10k in 1 hour and 39 minutes.
Let me repeat that, in 18 days (race day included) I managed to raise my time from 2 hours and 5 mins to 1 hour and 39 mins. This novice felt so proud and fulfilled! Sadly, Once the adrenaline wore off, the blues came in full force and stayed for two days. I decided that I needed to do another race soon, and then maybe another, or maybe just keep running until the absolute fulfillment kicks in? Who knows, maybe a nice and thorough hike will awaken that spirit and retire the racing one… I am not sure, but at that moment, I felt somewhat fulfilled. I saw something through and it felt good. The pain, the torture, the pleasure, all too satisfying. I was and still am, incredibly proud of myself.
And to wrap up the year, I decided to bow out of 2021 in style. I did more running in between working, averaging 3.2 miles on every run. On December 31st, I decided to do a 10k run, this time on my own. I initially was planning to participate in one of the 10k New Year's races but I felt the urge to do it instead on the 31st. It felt better to wrap up the year I was in, before focusing on the one to come. I ran on the road this time as the trails were too muddy from the rain. I broke both my training and race record, I completed my 10k in 1 hour and 32 minutes. I couldn't believe it, I still can't. While I know it might be a different result on the trail, I never expected to come this close. It was an incredible feeling.
So, there you have it. The theory of being able to accomplish whatever we set our mind to once again proves itself. Although, I feel this may not apply to all circumstances or perhaps it does and in the situation of one door closing, it just leads to another opening. My failed relocation and dear friendship loss led me back to nature, which led me to a stranger encouraging me to look up cross country, which led to me finding out about trail race and finally, this.
I ran my first 10k trail race, and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences I had in 2021.
Happy New Year!