Flashbacks from 1997 popped into my brain as I ran this 10-mile hilly trail course, same as the Road Less Traveled Trail Race (except in the opposite direction) which was my inaugural barefoot race (other than a low-tide race on the beach back in 1986 or ’87)
This course ran clockwise, while the 1997 Road Less Traveled race ran counterclockwise. I like clockwise better. That way, we go up the steepest hills (up the side of the canyon) at the beginning, before I’m tired out. Also since these are the steepest hills, more than half the ten mile course is down hills. I love running downhill!
I started in the back of the crowd of about 100 people, except most of them would not be running in the 10 mile race, since there was a 10 kilometer and 15 mile event, all starting at the same place and same time.
So I didn’t get to pass nearly as many people as in 1987, not only because of the smaller crowd, but I suppose because I was running much slower up the hills (sometimes even walking).
The cloudy morning was turning into a sunny day, and moisture was forming on my face and body. It wasn’t from a morning mist. My GOSH! I’m sweating! This running uphill (and sometimes walking) is almost like … work!
After about 4 miles or so, I arrived at the steep downhill. It was, to quote the Beatles, a “Long and Winding Road, BA, BA” which dropped about 500 or 600 feet in one mile into the valley below.
On the steep downhill, I just couldn’t get my legs to move or lift my feet as quickly as I was able when I was 16 years younger. Which means I wasn’t able to “fly” easily and as gently and gracefully down the steep hills as quickly as gravity was pulling me. This resulted in somewhat louder and noisier landings than normal (for a barefoot runner). I knew my bare soles were getting more stimulation than they had grown accustomed over the past decade, and they would be singing to me the remainder of the day. Their song would be, “Put your feet up and relax, relax, relax.” My body’s way of saying, “you pushed your limits a bit today, now it’s time to rest and recover.”
As I ran the final 5 miles down the gentle slope in the valley, I really appreciated the occasional stream crossing the trail providing nice cool mud baths for my feet. One bicyclist going the other direction, even apologized as he took the only detour around the mud bath, and must have thought he had forced me to take the shorter route through the mud – which had actually been my intention all along. I told him not to worry, “I didn’t get my shoes wet.”
Unfortunately, the last couple of mud baths had dried up, and weren’t much good to cool off my feet.
My goal, since I’m now in my late 50s, and then (1987) was in my early 40s approaching my peak fitness and race shape, was to run “half fast”. Since I ran the course in 1987 in 1 hour, 11 minutes and 6 seconds, I was hoping to run today in about 2 hours and 22 minutes.
I failed by about 25 minutes, as I finished in 1 hour and 57 minutes, about 25 minutes away (faster) than my goal.
- Chino Hills Trail Run Series
- Chino Hills Trail Run Series: the Dogs (@ PsychoHerman.com)
- Road Less Traveled 10-mile Trail Race (1997 May 17) Chino Hills CA