‘Do you like climbing?’ Right on the moment when all participants lined up at the starting line, Dean’s question sounded more like a reminder of ‘this-is-a-trail-race’ to me.
To be honest I am generally a learning-runner with previously 14-month training from cross country running. The only trail race I attended was the Ilkley Trail on last Monday and the Jack Blood Fell trace earlier in May. So how to prepare and be ready for the second trail race in 6 days was an interesting on-going question.
Jet lag wasn’t an issue. On arriving at last Wednesday night after 24 hours being still, I just got changed and went out for an easy 10k looping around Sunset - Hollywood boulevards. Traffic lights weren’t helpful but it still felt ’safe’ to run outside at 11pm!
Then to avoid the sun burn, Runyon Canyon Park became my favorite training spot since the next day morning — trail surface with enough elevation (approximately 320m). Morning easy/steady run on Thursday(6.7k), Friday(10k) and Saturday(8k), plus a speed trail session(20mins) in the Thursday afternoon near to the race venue.
According to the organiser’s website, the Griffith Park Trail ‘is considered an intermediate and very challenging course. The course is composed of Bill Eckert Trail, Vista Del Valle Dr., Fern Canyon Trail, and Old Zoo Trail. The terrain is 2/3 packed dirt and 1/3 paved fire road.’ However, I couldn’t find a chance to get there for a route reconnaissance.
D-Day. Driving towards the Griffith Park at 5.30am with a double-shot Americano. The race started at 7am and I managed to have a proper warm-up and chat with local runners for the last minute pre-race experiences. Here came the conversation with Dean, a former pole vaulter and experienced trail runner.
— ‘So what’s your predicted time?’
— ‘Less than 40 minutes’, that’s Dean, ‘and you’ll be fine.’
Race. The beginning was a bit chaotic for myself: I followed a fast runner and both of us went for the wrong path… kindly warned by the rest of the group, we made an effort (do I have a choice!) to rejoin them. Reestablishing, breathing, and remembering what Greg told you Jun, ‘you are not a beginner anymore.’
After 1 mile of continuous zig-zag climbing, only three of us remained in the pack. There were Dean, Shinsuke from Japan and we kept close to each other by lapping each other. On the way to the peak, the gap between me and the other two were increasing, 1 metre, 2 metres, 5 metres, 10, 20, 30… a critical moment.
First aid station. Sign of peak. Shinsuke’s gone and Dean was still ahead. The next relatively flat 3k allowed me to stay in control and find back a bit the speed. Then at the second aid station, I caught up Dean. The sensation of running and racing was ever present. We raced each other until the finish line.
Finishing position third in 37:12 at the Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay & 8k 2018 (Los Angeles, CA). Special thanks to Greg Hull for his support and LUUOC for entry subsidy. Honoured to be on the podium for the first time.