Just when you think you’re a decent runner…

…the trails remind you that you’re pretty mediocre, really!

Last Friday’s unexpected 11 miler at Windy Hill was a lot of fun.  I came away pretty chuffed with myself. I’d climbed over 2,000 feet, I’d done two big climbs and I felt pretty strong. I spent that weekend searching for trail half marathons and found a good one in November with a lot of climbing. Yes, I thought. I can handle that. I’ve got actual trail running shoes, I’m a proper trail runner now.

See? Proper trail shoes.
See? Proper trail shoes.

Enter Redwood Regional Park.

This Saturday, I drove over to Redwood Regional Park in Oakland for the latest trail exploration with Jen. This time, we were joined by LOADS of other local running bloggers and twitterers. It was SO good to see everyone – it was lovely to have a big group together. We split into two groups – the runners and the hikers.

Jen Marjorie Kristen Layla
The Hikers… Milfhiker, Jen, Kristen and Laya
Jess Caitlin Margot Kate
The runners…Jess, Roserunner, Faster Bunny, me, Kate, Huyen and Jenn

Off we set. There were 7 runners and fairly quickly we fell into mini-groups with others at our pace but there was a fair amount of stopping and regrouping so we got to see everyone quite often. I ended up running with Jess. She and I are running Ragnar Napa Valley this weekend so we had a lot to chat about.

The trails were beautiful. Really lovely. Wooded, foresty trails which, every now and again, opened up to show expansive vistas over to Mt Diablo. However we were plunging downwards. The running was effortless at this point, but I thought about the climb back.

Redwood Regional Park
Gorgeous foresty trails…


redwood regional

Soon enough, we started climbing again. The climb was so steep and technical that for a lot of it we hiked. My thighs were screaming, it was a really tough workout. Once the trail had levelled out, we started running again and Jess went flying, landing on her knee. Girl down. She recovered and we ran on.

This doesn't even begin to show how steep it was
This doesn’t even begin to show how steep it was

There was a very surreal moment. We were running through the forest and a guy ran towards us. He was dressed in a very dapper outfit – a nice shirt with a tucked-in tie, a fedora on his head. ‘Good morning ladies’, he said as he ran past us. We were all too surprised to reply. Where he came from, where he was going we had no idea.

The turnaround point was the Sibley Staging Area. A couple of runners headed back – four of us ran on another mile. This mile was all downhill. So when we turned around, we had a long uphill to drag ourselves up. Just past Sibley, as we ran down the little lane to the trail entrance, it was MY turn to go flying. I twisted my old bad ankle and crashed down. It was nowhere near as bad as last November – I knew I’d be able to go on and fairly quickly, we were running fairly delicately back down the trails. At one point, we got lost (the signage wasn’t great and the park map was atrocious) but with some luck, we were heading back to the car park.

redwood regional

By this point, I was struggling. The trails had been very steep, both up and down, and my legs were drained. I hadn’t fuelled properly – I’d made some apple pecan oat bites from Feedzone Portables and whilst delicious, they didn’t give me the calories I needed. I was desperate for a good old-fashioned Gu by the end. By the time Jess and I jogged down the final trail to the car park, I was spent.

It was a humbling run. We only covered 7.4 mils but I was utterly done for. I could not have done much more. I definitely couldn’t have done a half-marathon. It was a good reminder not to get too cocky as a runner – the trails always humble us. Having said that, Redwood Park is BEAUTIFUL! Really gorgeous.

Despite the relatively low mileage, I was RAVENOUS at the end. We retired to the Montclair Egg Shop where I inhaled french toast. When I got home, I had a second lunch.

I ate all of this. No guilt.
I ate all of this. No guilt.

I’d planned to run a few extra miles on Sunday but my ankle ached still so I ditched that plan. A wise move…I was in no discomfort by Sunday evening.

This week is all about NOT getting injured for Ragnar. Our team doesn’t seem to be the ‘luckiest’ so far but I’ve been blown away by how everyone has pulled together and supported each other and we haven’t even started running yet. If you’d like to be part of this, we have two spaces in our van and we would LOVE you to join us 🙂

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Jen says:

    Don’t get yourself down about this run — it’s a very difficult route! When I ran it in February, my Garmin read 2000+ feet gain over 9 miles. That’s a lot! I should point out that, although we started in Redwood, we were mostly in Huckleberry and Sibley. Maybe I’ll take you on a proper tour of Redwood when I’m back to running trails again. 🙂

    1. Jen says:

      p.s. glad your ankle is feeling better!

    2. Cathryn says:

      I’m honestly not down about it – I was just a little disheartened about how hard I found it, but that’s running sometimes isn’t it! I’d LOVE to see more of Redwood when you’re on the trails again…yes please.

  2. Kate says:

    You did great! Don’t beat yourself up. I always find trails to be humbling, and there are plenty of times I’ve struggled even on a very familiar route. There are lots of other parts of Redwood to explore, so you must come back soon!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you – I’m honestly not beating myself up about it. I was just surprised by how hard I found it when a previous run had felt so good. It never hurts to be humbled though, does it!! Gorgeous route, thank you for planning.

  3. Sherry says:

    Sounds like an awesome day out on the trails with friends! Isn’t it strange how photographs never show how steep thing really are?! I’m glad you didn’t hurt your ankle too badly and it’s feeling better now.

    1. Cathryn says:

      Much better, thank you!

  4. Grace says:

    Phew! As a flatlander I am humbled by hills all the time – the only solution is to practice more and keep going. 2000 ft of elevation is no joke. There is one long hill trail here (about 13km, not sure what total elevation change is – and it’s not even dirt track, it’s footpath) that I haven’t been able to do without walking. One day… Oh and enjoy Ragnar!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Thank you! I just want to get running now – I want the pre-race dramas to be over! 13km of hills is brutal though…that’s a LONG climb!

  5. Paulette says:

    Oh no, those tough runs are mentally terrible. I’ve had a few of those, falls and all, myself lately. Redwood looks gorgeous but really hard, which I’d heard about it before (and was part of why I decided to lay off my hip and not come.) You can still do that half marathon I bet and enjoy it! Which one? Hope to meet you at Ragnar!

    1. Cathryn says:

      You made a wise decision with a gammy hip. Next time, eh?

  6. Bean says:

    Trails are brutal! I have learned this multiple times in Colorado the last two weeks! No injuries. NOOOOOOO.

  7. Looks beautiful but very difficult. Way to go. Good luck this weekend! I am sure you and your team will do great.

    1. Cathryn says:

      We had a blast! Thanks!

  8. Sounds like it was a fun time out there! And very technical o.o! It looks like a lovely place to explore. Glad the ankle wasn’t hurt too badly. Have fun at Ragnar this weekend and good luck! I’ll be cheering you on!

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