The Green Girl did the Rockin' The Coto Trail Half Marathon this morning.
It was my first trail race and my first small race - it was capped at 25 runners. The course was on horse trails in the gated community of Coto de Caza in Orange County.
I emailed the race director, Charlie Alewine, before I registered to make sure a three hour back of the packer half marathoner was welcome. He replied that there was no time limit and I'd be fine.
I was apprehensive about doing my first trail race. I was also intimidated to discover Charlie Alewing Racing races are popular among ultramarathoners.
My fears were put at ease when I saw how relaxed all the runners were as we waited for the race to start. I chatted with another runner, Gail, who mentioned a few of them had done a full marathon yesterday and were doing another today.
They explained the course was an out and back and to look out for an Easter Bunny stop sign designating the turn around point.
The next thing I knew, the race was starting. We headed down a paved path to the horse trail. The trail was well groomed and lined with a white aluminum picket fence.
I wasn't used to running on trails with such loose dirt so it took me awhile to fall into a comfortable pace. Fairly large rocks kept getting into my shoes so I had to stop a few times to shake them out. At one point, I even managed to get a small branch in my left shoe. Despite the slight inconvenience, I thoroughly enjoyed running on the horse trail.
The entire course was surrounded by rolling hills and large homes.
The sky was overcast and the weather was perfect for a run.
It was a good day for me. I felt strong and my body felt good - no aches or pains. After struggling with posterior tibial tendonitis for so long, I don't take my running for granted.
I got a good chuckle when I saw the Easter Bunny stop sign at the halfway point.
I've been experimenting with my nutrition in preparation for the Athens Classic Marathon. I'm one of those runners who prefers real food to sports nutrition but I've been trying different forms of bars and chews to see if I can find something I like.
Today, I ate half a package of Morinaga Hi-Chew Strawberry Fruit Chews and a three Black Cherry Clif Shot Bloks with caffeine.
I brought 10 ounces of water and 20 ounces of Gatorade but I realized I should have brought more water and less Gatorade.
On my way back, I stopped at the unmanned aid station and was thrilled to discover a bag of cheese puffs. I quickly poured some into a paper cup, refilled my water bottle, and took an extended walk break as I happily munched on the salty puffs and sipped Gatorade.
I was making excellent time when it started to heat up around Mile 11. I started taking more and more walk breaks and my pace got significantly slower. A 03:15 finish got further and further away and I finally decided I would be satisfied with a sub-03:30.
Charlie and his wife enthusiastically cheered me on as I got to the finish.
I hung around to cheer on some of the marathoners and chatted with some of the other runners. Everyone was extremely supportive and encouraging. It was a small race with a huge heart.
I thanked Charlie for putting on such an awesome race and assured him I'd be back very soon.