As part of my campaign to bring joy back to my running, I knew I needed more trail time. So a week or so ago, I emailed Jen and suggested we get together and run some trails, or we do a trail race for fun. She agreed and we decided on the Woodside Ramble 10k in my very favourite park, Huddart Park. The deal was that we would run together, we would not ‘RACE’ it, we would smile for the photographers and we would have fun. This race was for fun, for joy, for aid-station demolishing and free race photos! We planned brunch at my favourite place, Alice’s, after the race and the plan was hatched.
I ran a half in Huddart three years ago and I ran this very 10k three years ago too . I know these trails well. I know the big 2.5 mile climb and I know the delicious 2 mile descent down to the finish line! I was really looking forward to it.
All the photos in this post are courtesy of Jen. My iPhone 4 is dying and I am desperately hoping that Santa brings me something ever so slightly less archaic.
It was FREEZING when we arrived at Huddart Park. Maybe not actually freezing but a few degrees above it. We had planned plenty of time to get there as I had to register on the day, but the queue to get into the park was very long – several people running the 35k and the half-marathon were running past the queue of cars to ensure they got to their race start! We found a parking space fairly easily, I registered (take cash) and Jen and I went for a little jog to warm up. It was cold.
As the half-marathon started fifteen minutes before our race, we got to see Margot doing her first ever trail race and Paulette and Kevin as well. We cheered them off, dropped our lovely warm layers in the car, bumped into my friend Rod doing his first trail race too and we got ready to start. The race director reminded us to follow pink ribbons and we were off.
I know this park well, I know the course well – it’s the route I take visitors on when they come to the Bay Area, except that I run it in reverse because that’s much easier. The first mile of the race is solidly downhill on Bay Tree trail – it’s a lovely stretch of single track, marred only by the pressure of having other runners trying to pass us, or at least the mental pressure of thinking people are trying to pass us. We were in no rush, but we didn’t want to hold people back. I ran along following Jen’s nimble footsteps and listening to two clever people discussing Slaughterhouse 5 behind me. They liked it (I hated it). I lowered the tone by starting a conversation about Harry Potter, which I’m just starting to read!
After a mile, we got onto Richard’s Road, a lovely fire-road which is wide enough that people can pass easily. We settled into an easy stride and chatted as we ran along. There were redwoods everywhere, it made me very happy. The recent storms meant there was water in the stream, something I’ve never seen before, and that’s a good thing. After a while, Richard’s Road started climbing quite steeply. We alternated walk-jog, identifying trees and stumps where we’d start walking and then start running again. Soon enough we turned onto the much flatter Chapparal trail and we were able to run comfortably.
Chapparal turned onto Crystal Springs trail and the climb proper began. Two miles of steady uphill. On the whole, it was pretty runnable – we walked where we needed to but were able to jog a surprising amount. This park is definitely my favourite place to run, it is SO beautiful. At one point, the trail was so beautiful we stopped to take photos. We’ve never done this before in a race, and I felt a bit ‘Instagram Girl’ but we were out for fun today and sometimes, photos need to happen.
Eventually we got to the turnoff where we start going downhill and then it all got fun. Running downhill trails is the payoff for the hard work and we just relaxed into the hill. I pretended to be Katniss, I pretended to be an aeroplane, I pretended to be a bird, Jen pretended not to know me. We tried to fix up a single friend with the nice gentleman running behind us and we dropped like stones back towards the start line. Sooner or later, we heard the wonderful volunteers screaming like loons and we were running out the woods onto the field and across the finish line together.
Our time was a VERY unspectacular 1.17 but we genuinely didn’t care. Jen is still post-CIM, I’m running my way out of a running funk and today’s trail excursion was exactly what was needed.
We were very cold at the finish line so we got some food, got our medals, got our shirts. Jen went for what she thought was a free massage and ended up having to pay $30 (!) so beware, people! And then shivering and numb-handed, we drove up to my favorite place, Alice’s, for brunch. Margot joined us having rocked the half-marathon – she earned her brunch, Jen and I felt slightly fraudulent eating all the food after a 10k, but we ate it anyway. Paulette and Kevin came just as we finished, so we got a quick photo, wished each other happy holidays and drove off home.
This is a lovely event on lovely trails. Inside Trail do a fantastic job and their medals are really nice these days (they ran the Mt Tam half I did recently too).
You should do this race. It did me the world of good.