One of my biggest training problems is that most of my training runs are, out of convenience, done on relatively flat ground. A friend told me about a local trail race. My scheduled training run for that day was 11 miles, so I figured I could stretch that to 20K and get running conditions more like my upcoming 100M.
Showed up and checked in as the sun was rising, short speech from the race director and we were off. I was using this as a slow, easy training run, so I was at the back of the pack almost immediately. Rolling hills, wooded trails, a few trails that I almost went off the marked course to explore:
Looped back past the start point at about the 3k mark, then down a muddy road…
…to the much hillier and muddier equestrian trails. Not OCR type mud, but enough mud to make it feel like the hills had been greased.
Around 7k there was a volunteer to encourage us up a particularly steep hill and make sure we understood the course markings (misunderstanding at this point would have cut about a mile off of our distance). We passed him again at the other side of the loop, and he informed us that the start point was one mile away, almost all down hill. Best news of the day!
Back to start point, grab a donut, back out on the trails for the second lap. By this time I had set into my pace and just kept it going. I stepped it up for the last half mile or so, and finished in just under 3:32. Not my best 20K, but almost exactly the pace I need for the 100, so that gives me hope that I am on the right track.
Final point of win from this race: I have a bad habit of stopping to catch my breath on uphills. Even with some impressive uphills on this course, I was able to make it through without stopping. The time spent on the stair climber appears to be doing its job.