Honey, wake up. It’s almost six o’clock.
One four-letter-expletive later, and I was up out of bed and moving.
Dressed for the day with coffee in hand, I grabbed my gear bag and ran to the car. Folsom Lake, here I come.
Yolo Brewing and Total Body Fitness, two local Sacramento area companies held a contest in August, awarding a race voucher to an upcoming race. I was grateful to be selected, and happily went to the brewery to fill my growler and pick up the voucher. TBF hosts running, mountain bike, tri, and duo races – along with their coaching and fitness training programs – so I had quite a few to choose from.
After waking up an hour later than anticipated, I made it to the event site just in time for race day registration. On the way I had my breakfast of a Clif bar and coffee, as waking up late gave me no time to make eggs.
The air was cool and crisp, warming with the rising sun. I had not been to Folsom Lake in months, and the sight of the water level was staggering. I loped off to a quiet stretch of sand, and had a little pre-race yoga session to clear my mind and warm my body.
The crowd grew, and the air continued to warm. It was going to be a hot fall day. I drank my now customary can of Amy’s organic vegetable soup, straight from the can and lined up with the waiting runners in the corral. This was to the inaugural running of the event, so I had no previous year race results to gauge the potential competition. It looked like a mix of runners from all capabilities, and I had not yet raced this distance on trail before – or any like it for that matter. I have ran 10Ks, and half marathons, but only on road. The up and down of a trail for a mid distance like that was going to be new territory.
Off we went, and the leader opened up at a low 6 minute pace. I kept in the top ten as we moved along the course. The pace felt about 70% of my road 10K, so although the elevation changes were only hundreds of feet I still have to walk small sections near the top to allow myself a recovery from the lactic build up. I knew within the first 4 miles I wasn’t going to catch the top 5, so I focused on my breathing and tried to remain as consistently fast as possible.
The aid stations were plentiful, offering water and Gatorade(pretty sure) for fluids, with gels available. I did see the gels in ziplock bags on the table, so if you run this, be sure to call out as you approach so they are ready for a fast grab. I did not bring any calories for the race, relying on water and a couple SaltStick caps. I opted for hand carrying a single bottle, rather than my full vest, to sip on between aid stations, and with the heat of the day, I was glad I had the relief from trail-dust cotton-mouth.
The course was extremely well marked, even offering arrows denoting sharp drop-offs. The Granite Bay scenery was a treat, offering wonderful trail-side views of what remains of Folsom Lake and the surrounding area.
The Last 2 miles were a big push to close in on the two runners ahead of me. I finished the race 3 seconds behind the runner ahead of me, and less than 30 seconds behind the runner before him, further reinforcing my recent acceptance that I need speed work in my weekly routine if I really want to compete….Bulking up on miles and hills may help you get fast, but focusing on speed work (tempos, fartleks, repeats) helps you get really fast.
The awards were presented, and Merrell was on site for shoe demos, free shwag, and a raffle. The post race food was spaghetti and salad (awesome!), with grapes and orange slices on the side.
This was my first race with TBF and I will certainly look forward to many more. Well managed, well marked, and well ran. A great course and a great event.
After I sat an filled up on pasta, salad, and sunshine, I grabbed my vest from the car, filled my bottles and got ready for more. I could not go all the way to Folsom, and only run 10 miles…especially on a wonderful day like this one.
My replacement Earth Runners laces had not arrived prior to the race, so I had run in my Vibram Five Fingers. After a few hours inside the foot-glove, I was yearning for some barefoot freedom, so I kicked them off and took back to the trails for 8 more miles and smiles. After so long in the sandals, going back to the VFFs was…not as I remembered. I missed my sandals.
Without the pressure of racing, I took my time, enjoying the views and taking in the magnitude of the drought. Recently a small lake near Folsom went completely dry, killing thousands of fish and shocking the region.
California – PLEASE conserve water!
America – Please reconsider purchasing from Nestle and Arrowhead
Try reusable water bottles and tap water anyway – it has less contaminants and is better for the environment.
While I was out and about I couldn’t help but notice all the trail trash. Tops of gel packs, food wrappers, scraps of plastic, an old tire patch kit, bottle caps… somethings probably from the race, but most from weeks and months before. I found a paper cup about a half mile from the air station where it should have been left (that surprised me) and proceeded to store all the junk I found along the way.
I didn’t keep up a consistent pace, but it was worth it.
Thank you to TBF for a great race! I look forward to running this again next year.
Thank you to the volunteers for taking the day to stand in the hot sun and direct traffic at road crossings, and offer water to thirsty runners.
– The Winged Ling