For spring and summer 2023, I'm doing something potentially crazy, I've signed up for 15 trail running races. *IF* I do them all, I will have completed 13 Wasatch Trail Run Series (WTRS) LONG COURSE races, (one as a trail volunteer), AND will have completed two Cirque Series races. 😱
This leads me to my next soul searching question...but why!!?? Why in the world am I doing this to myself? The short answer is, because I LOVE it!
My first ever mountain race was a Cirque Series event at Alyeska ski resort in Alaska. At 6.2 miles with a 3890 foot vertical climb and descent, that first race goes down in history as one of the hardest things I've ever done. Even my Alaskan brother, who is one of the bravest skiers and mountain bikers I've ever met, described the Alyeska course as "no joke." He was right, and, despite that, I was hooked!
In addition to trail running, I was trying to get a "one and done" marathon under my belt last year before turning 50, but unexpected health problems kept getting in the way, instead of training for a marathon, I "lowered" my running expectations for 2022 and trained for another Cirque Series race at Alta ski resort in Utah. I went from little to no hiking plans to doing some absolutely gorgeous power hikes and runs leading up to the Alta race. It really defined for me a beautiful mountain summer that would have been very uneventful.
Fast forward to 2023, and the season has just begun. In late April, Utah has just barely emerged from the longest, hardest winter since 1951. I'm not alone in saying it seemed like it would never, ever, end!!! Therefore, I had my doubts about racing conditions for the first event.
The first race in Eagle Mountain, albeit low elevation, was way warmer dryer than I expected. Racing temperatures and trail conditions were absolutely perfect. I was joking that the first few WTRS races would be more like Tougher Mudders. Depending on how fast spring and summer temperatures rise in Utah, some of the higher elevation runs will still be a little muddy and snowy in places.
Now what about performance and how my body feels? First of all, I signed up for long courses which means 7-9 miles every time (a short course, 3-5 mile version is available for every event). In true form, this is going to be a stretch for me. I have done very little running this winter. At a 1:45 finish time, I was one of the last few people to finish the long course, but I can honestly say I did jog at least 85% of the race at a steady pace, and came in running.
I *did* try to warm up and train my somewhat dormant cardio vascular system for this first race by doing several 7 mile road runs prior to. As for muscles and joints, I was ridiculously sore and tired for two days after the first race, so I will have to see what I can improve on with my before and after routine.
One week later, at the time of this writing, my knees and ankles are saying hello to me and making themselves known, but...that could also be all the squats and leg presses I did at the gym on Monday. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to be aware, cautious, appreciative and protective, even, of their existence.