Sunday, March 5, 2017

Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon Recap

As I have been progressing in my ultra training, I realized that I had never actually run a trail race.  When Smitha encouraged me to sign up for the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet, so to speak. I’ve also heard great things about the races Keira Henninger puts on and I couldn’t wait to find out for myself.  

#FlatJenn ready to hit the trails!
I have run twenty seven road half marathon and was excited about running my first one on the trails—we headed up on race morning and right from the start, the views promised of great things to come.  

This is the most physically challenging half marathon I have ever run and the slowest I have ever run—by over an hour. And yet I loved it!  The experience was awesome and I can’t wait to run my next trail race.  Here’s a breakdown of what I love about this race:

The Course
I’ve mentioned in previous race recaps that I seldom look at course maps or elevation charts.  It’s probably better that I didn't look it up for this race-- oh the hills!  I struggled with the climbs but the views were gorgeous! The weather was perfect and I just couldn’t get enough of the scenery.  It was fun to see views of downtown Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign.  The course was also clearly marked for us, with brightly colors markers and signage to indicate if we were going the wrong way.  At crucial turnaround points, a volunteer was there to direct us which made it even better.  As challenging as the course was for me (I definitely need more hill training) I loved every minute of it.    

Foam rolling was my friend after this race!
The Aid  Stations
I run with my own hydration and fuel—I’ve learned in the past to never depend on a race to have what I need or want.  With running road races, I’m accustomed to water, an electrolyte drink and gels.  Occasionally there are spectators with food and the random mimosa.  What a different experience at this race—every aid station not only have water and electrolytes, but so many snacks.  It was nice to have the options and the Coke I had at the third aide station was probably the most delicious Coke I’ve ever had.  But it didn’t stop at the aid stations—after the race, there were more snacks and Subway sandwiches for us.  

The Other Runners
Though there is often support on road races not only from the runners, but also spectators, I went into this race not knowing what to expect since I knew there would more than likely not be spectators on the course.  “Good job,” “Looking Strong,” “Way to go,” and “You’ve got this” were just a few of the cheers I heard on the course.  It seemed no matter who you passed, someone had something nice or encouraging to say.  It was awesome!  And so much inspiration—from runners who looked tired but weren’t giving up to the runners who were pushing 80 years old and still out there doing their thing.  

So much fun running with Smitha and Valerie
The Volunteers
The volunteers are always one of my favorite things about a race and this race was no different.  Anyone willing to give of their time to come out and support us runners has to be an awesome person!  All the volunteers were so friendly and knew exactly what to say just when we needed it.  A big thank you to anyone who was out there!

The Griffith Observatory 
My first trail race experience was amazing!  I ran with Smitha and Valerie the entire time—we had a blast.  I am grateful to have had friends to share the experience with and it was fun to see other running friends out on the course.  I think I might even come back next year and go up to a higher distance- I really want to see the Hollywood sign closer up!   A big congratulations to everyone who finished the half, marathon and 50K.    

Have you every run a trail race?  Which one?

Until next time, happy running!

Ultra Runner Crate

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