A few weeks ago, Sean & I started discussing our summer runs & Sean wanted to get in another decent run in July before TRT so we decided on The Peak in Julian, CA.
We go to Julian quite often but don’t typically run to Cuyamaca Peak & knowing that I was going to be running TRT & then Mt. Hood I didn’t want to push it so I signed up for the half marathon while Sean signed up for the 50k.
Local & shorter distance races are pretty low key for us these days and I don’t typically stress too much about anything in the days before the race.
I do still set out my clothes the night before, just in case & get a change of clothes so I don’t have to search for that in the morning.
I woke up a little before my alarm to go to the bathroom & then right before my alarm actually went off around 3:30am, I got a text from my boss (who was in Paris at the time) that I needed to do something for work so that kind of messed up my game a little. I got that taken care of, then got my pack fuelled & ready, grabbed a few random things and then we were off. This was probably the first time ever Sean was ready before me, lol.
We drove out to Cuyamaca & got to the start area around 5:20ish. They told us to go towards the front to park since we have a small car & ended up being right at the start/finish line.
The start was pretty low-key. The 50k & marathon runners started at 6am & then the half marathoners started at 7am. I just kind of hung out at the car & then started to see a few friends.
And then it was time to get the show on the road! We started out on a dirt road then turned & started up! I ran maybe a half a mile before I started hiking. My goal for the day was to really work on my hiking & then run the down.
I felt really strong climbing, barely having any issues with breathing, etc. I wasn’t moving crazy fast, but I was moving pretty well. We got to a nice section of downhill & I ended up passing a few people before getting to the next section of uphill. This section is very rocky & was a bit more slow.
I passed a few people here & there, chatted with one girl who got lost last year, a guy who was sooo negative, literally every word out of his mouth was a negative comment & then caught back up to the girl & we finished climbing to the Peak together.
So side note on the negative person: I enjoy chatting with other runners when I’m out there & I try to be super positive, because I’m super excited to be out there & especially on the shorter runs, I’m not really going through any major lows lol. But if I run into a people & they are being negative, I do try to distance myself because if you are having a rough day it can be easy to get sucked into that mindset. After the race, I ran into that guy again & he told me & another runner that he did not enjoy one minute of the race.
We get to do this, we all paid our money to be out there on the trails & in my opinion, any day I get to be out there in nature, enjoying the trails is a good day! There’s always something to smile about & for most people, the next high is just around the corner. It was an absolutely beautiful day & I feel a little sad for him that we wasn’t able to enjoy just being out there.
Now, back to the recap & off my soap box. I got to the Peak, saw my friend Jeff, got more water in my pack, ice in my Running Skirts neck wrap & they insisted on putting ice in my hat.
I’ve only been to Cuyamaca Peak a few times so I had to get a photo & then I started on my descent. It’s always fun to be on the second half of an out and back because you are heading towards the finish!
I was able to run for maybe a mile or so before it got pretty rocky. I chatted with a guy from Iowa for a while before I passed him and kept moving. I got to the bottom of the rocky section, hit up the next aid station got more ice for my hat & then headed up for the last section of climb (about 2ish miles).
In this section I passed at least 2-3 more people on the climb. I was dripping wet & not just from sweat, between the ice in the hat & the neck wrap, my shirt & shorts were soaked!! I kept thinking to myself that the people behind me were probably following my water drops lol. Except that there weren’t really any people following that closely behind me.
I finally made it to the top of the last big climb! And it was time to start running! So I immediately passed a girl and then I saw a guy, he was running, but then stopped to walk so I passed him. Then I turned a corner and this woman came out of nowhere, so we ran next to each other for a while and then I passed her too. I just kept moving steadily heading towards the finish.
As I got into the last mile, I saw two more people, a guy & a girl a little bit ahead of him so I set my eyes on them. I was able to catch the guy and then I eventually passed the girl with less than a mile to go. I kept heading down to the road section. There was another guy in front of me, but I wasn’t able to catch him.
I don’t normally play the pick-off runners game, I just do my own thing, but it was a fun way to finish off the race since I had done so much hiking.
We finished got a medal & then I headed up to get a coke & some orange slices. I took my traditional post race medal selfie & then changed into dry clothes. I enjoy the after race just chatting with other runners while I wait for Sean to finish his longer race.
It was a fun day! I really enjoyed it, and I knew it was going to be a challenging race. Although I think that I must have heard a good portion of the half marathoners comment that it was soooo tough.
Again, like at Black Mountain a number of people commented that they weren’t expecting it to be like this, this tough, this technical, this unrunable (a matter of opinion, Sean said it was crazy challenging but he did run the entire first 6.5 miles, our race). And I understand as a road runner we don’t always look at the course map or elevation because it’s not that big of deal. But with trail races, it’s different, first for most people, you aren’t going to run as fast as you do on the road, second, even in a half marathon, there can be a lot of climbing, third, it’s not always runnable terrain for everyone but that’s ok, if you keep up with it and train the next one will be easier and finally, remember to look up & out occasionally, the views at trail races are so much better than most road races!