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Race Recap: Xterra Topanga Trail Run 10K

I wanted to sign up for a “turkey trot” this year, but I tend to be in smaller towns over Thanksgiving. I like the small-town run feel. I searched around & there were several on Thanksgiving day IN and around L.A., but they sounded like a crowded mess. Instead, I signed up for a trail run 10K this past Sunday in Topanga State Park. It lived up to its expectation of being more about scenery than the crowds.

I’ve only done a few trail runs & this one was not kidding. Like most trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s basically UP and then back DOWN. “Well that’s any mountain, Kristy,” you are saying–and yes, you’re right. But some mountains are SO BIG that you can run across them for quite awhile. But no, as they explained it, “3 miles of uphill & then a little ‘flat uphill’ & then a fast finish.” Flat uphill? That didn’t sound right.

The first 2 miles were single track & very much a “trail,” so I was just looking down making sure I didn’t fall & get trampled by all the runners behind me. We were in a long line, and once I found my place I just stayed there. It was nice until there were actual STAIRS built into the trail because of the steep climbs. We all walked. I kept telling myself “this is basically over at mile 3 & then you can just tumble on home.”

After 2 miles, we were on a fire road with awesome views & so much space. Even though we were still climbing, it was a nice change & without having anyone directly in front of/behind me, I could find my own pace. I have done many runs here before, and this part of the trail is just beautiful views of hills and ocean. Perfect weather, too! I kept telling myself, “You are almost at mile 3! Basically done!”

When I reached mile 3, though, I got to the “flat uphill” part of the course–which just meant it wasn’t QUITE as uphill as the last 3 miles. I sucked it up and kept running & then before I knew it…the downhill part. WEEEEE! I love a good downhill. The challenge became “Don’t fall!” I didn’t. I got to move really fast, which never happens on my flat training miles. There is something so fun about a speedy stride.

I finished in a sprint all by myself, so I had no idea how I finished. Not many passed me & I didn’t pass many, so I guess I started off in the right position. I got a beer at the beer tent because you know, it’s 9:30am. Checking the results, I was 2nd in my division! Hooray. Fun to stand on a podium again.

I really love these races. And as I begin to really focus on/build up my running, it keeps me engaged & motivated in the process. I’m not doing a “plan” or anything–I’ve just been super slowly adding more minutes to my weekly training. My eventual goal is 6 days of running a week/averaging 50-60 min a day. Finding time has been the biggest struggle, so I’m usually doing 2-a-days (my dog and kid prefer this schedule). When my kid moves on from this “I think I will wake up at 5am today!” phase, I’m hoping to do more pre-dawn workouts.

A beautiful train run & well-run race. I highly recommend it!

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