since i packed most of my gear the night before, i woke up at 5am on sunday to take a shower and make a smoothie for breakfast. we were on the 405 south just before 6am and arrived at the closer of the two parking lots at 6:45am. the weather was actually chilly (it had been clear & sunny the entire week), so we picked up our bibs and timing chips bundled up in our jackets and long pants.
at the gun, the first mile was only slightly uphill, so the pace was quick, as the serious contenders tried to get a jump on the rest of the pack before hitting the single track. miles 2-4 were a tough slog uphill 1,000 feet in elevation; i never stopped running but it was definitely slow in spots. i realized then that i forgot to bring my water bottle, so i had to keep extra careful tabs on the water/gel stations sprinkled throughout.
at the 4-mile mark, the elevation drops and we go careening downhill, which was a welcome sight. it was short-lived, however, as a sharp hairpin turn at around mile 5 introduced us to the "elevator" - a gnarly, hellish ascent that almost required one to get on their hands and knees just to keep moving forward. i didn't see a single soul attempt to run this portion, so i took comfort in the fact that i was doing good by fast-walking past a small group of people.
miles 6-10 were the most forgiving, as the trail gave way to plenty of rolling hills. there wasn't as much downhill as i had been hoping or expecting, so this was the unfortunate downside of not knowing the course. at point mugu, i literally passed close to 100 people on the steep single-track final descent, but i wasn't able to do the same damage here. boo.
i crossed the tape in 1:35:56 - in the front half of finishers and good enough for a 10:16 pace - almost a minute faster than my 11:12 average at the shorter 11k point mugu. before the race, i was hoping to go a sub-10min pace, so i fell just short there. vim came in at 1:54:42, so we shared a celebratory hug at the finish line and a much-needed post-recovery drink.
all in all, i had a blast and the results were encouraging, but i know i left a few minutes on the board. but i have to remind myself that not only was it just our second trail race ever, it was the longest distance either of us have ever run... period. so improvement is to come in increments...
the four of us grabbed brunch at the crow bar and kitchen in nearby corona del mar, then toasted to our achievement with a cold, refreshing glass (or in this case, dixie cup) of prosecco at santa monica beach. 'til our next adventure!