I may have waited a while to write my first race report of 2019, but I certainly started the new year the best way I could think of — a trail race! I registered for Clikapudi Trail Runs half marathon on an impulse shortly before Christmas.
Not sure what inspired me to wander over to ultrasignup that day, but when I saw there was a race coming up in Redding on New Year’s Day — one that I’d heard good things about — I had to go for it.
But I hesitated.
Before I completed the registration with my payment info, I suddenly found myself wondering if I could even run 13.1 miles.
Of course, I went ahead and signed up anyway!
“Can you just do that!?” asked a friend, an equal mix of disbelief and admiration apparent in her voice.
“We’ll find out!” was my equally doubtful response. But I went on to explain that I had every confidence in my ability to move 13 miles, it was only a matter of how much pain I’d feel as a result of such an endeavor.
The thing is, ever since my very first marathon (almost 10 years ago, now!) I’ve been able to stay in what I call “halfie shape.” Even if I wasn’t training for a specific race, I wanted to always be able to at least run 13 miles on any given day.
I suppose part of the allure of Clikapudi Trail Runs was the opportunity to test my fitness.
Was I still in halfie shape?
Well, my friends, I still don’t know.
A little pre-race crankiness
January 1 just so happened to be smack in the middle of my period. Without sharing too much info, my monthly visit from Auntie Flo is usually enough to skip a workout in favor of staying in bed with a heating pad for at least one day.
Lucky me- January 1 was that day!
I didn’t skip the race.
But, on my drive down, I started thinking about how easy it would be to run the 10k distance instead. (The half marathon was basically two loops of the 10k course.)
This temptation only amplified when I arrived at the start.
The first thing I learned upon pulling into the parking lot was that the restrooms were locked so everyone had to jog/drive about a half mile down to the boat ramp where two heavily used porta-potties were waiting. By the time I got there, they’d already just about run out of toilet paper.
I was already cranky before learning this, but my mood sunk even lower as I stepped outside and realized how windy it was.
I did not pack a windbreaker. Or toilet paper.
So there I was, standing in line for the porta-potties and shivering when I made the firm decision to run a fun 10k instead of the half marathon.
I don’t like falling short of the expectations I set for myself, but I had to be honest. What I really wanted to do that day was snuggle on the couch with my dogs… and a heating pad.
I also decided to wear my warm insulating layer until I got too hot.
After I made that call, the pressure lifted. I always enjoy races more when my goal is to have fun instead of proving something to myself. You can’t lose when you make feeling good your top priority.
A change of vibes
Before gathering at the start line, I saw a bunch of friends I didn’t even know were going to be there. It was so nice to start the year off doing something I love with friends who came out there for the same reason.
Among them was supreme badass and fitness coach Molly Schmelzle, who would win the half marathon, and local trail sister Heather Banos, who took 3rd in the 5k race.
My mood brightened considerably as we huddled near the start line.
Shasta Trail Runs race director Ryan Spitz congratulated us all for being there and announced it was his first year organizing Clikapudi. He stood there, bright-eyed and bushy-bearded, beaming at the crowd as he prepared us to start.
By that time, I was stoked again to be there. Proud of myself for getting up early on a day I’d traditionally be hungover and starting the new year with a trail race.
After we set off, the 5k runners turned right and the rest went left. After about 3 miles, I finally warmed up and shed my jacket.
Even though my mood was much improved, I was still moving pretty slow. It took another mile or so of trotting before I powered-up and started passing people.
Soon after that, it struck me that I was, in fact, running a race and not participating in a leisurely group run. I also realized that the faster I ran, the sooner I’d be back home and cozy beneath a dog pile.
I picked up my step with newfound energy and actually felt really, really good.
Half the race distance, all the feels
When I came to the first aid station, the volunteer looked at my bib and instructed me to continue on straight. I paused to let everyone know I decided to drop down to the 10k distance instead.
Then, I took off toward the finish.
My final time was 1:06 and change. Not a PR by any means, but I was excited just to get an official time instead of a DNF! Many races wouldn’t count my time unless I finished the distance I signed up for, especially with such a last-minute change.
***You can read about my 10k PR race here***
Overall, I’m grateful for the experience and would recommend this race. It’s really the perfect way to start the year on the right foot (LOL)!
Freelance writer. Trail runner. Relentless savage.