We’ve done every type of epic race on the block: Color Runs, glow runs, costume runs, marathons, half marathons, 5ks, 10ks, you name it. While the draw of a large national themed race is enticing, sometimes it’s nice to do a small local race. The benefits are that they’re usually cheaper, the parking is easier, you can generally better your time (if that’s what you’re going for) because you’re not weaving through crowds of people, and sometimes you can even place in your age/gender group. These are some of the reasons I decided to do the 4 Mile Hill Challenge at the Audobon Center at Debs Park on Saturday, March 22. It was only $17 to register on a Groupon and it was helping me fulfill my trail running resolution for 2014.
I enlisted Matt to run with me this time. The first time we ever ran together I was so frustrated because I’d been training for months and he was immediately faster and had more stamina with ZERO training. Once I realized I’m not the only girlfriend with this problem, I let it go and started focusing on making myself better instead of worrying about him. (Note: As I’m writing this, he shuffled out of the bedroom and said his legs are “shredded” – mine feel great! That’s what he gets for not working out enough!)
Bright and early Saturday morning we headed to Debs Park, an open space nature preserve in Montecito Heights. With less than 500 runners, it already felt like a fun, intimate race. I could hear people talking about the course last year (“Pace yourself, the first hill is longer than you think and you’ll need to save your energy!”), first-time runners getting pumped up, and lots of chatter and smiles. I can’t help it; I LOVE race energy!
After picking up what is officially my lowest number race bib (#41), we lined up at the starting line of the 4 mile hill challenge. Matt and I are pretty big coffee drinkers but didn’t have any before this race, so I’m astonished at my performance! Yes, the hills were tough, but I managed to run almost 100% of all of them and didn’t really slow down during the whole race except for some mild backlogs on the single track trails.
The fresh trail air, the new terrain and the race energy all made for a great Saturday morning, made even better by beating my goal time of an hour by 5 minutes! Usually when I run trails it turns into more of a jog/hike rather than a continuous run, so being able to push through and pass a lot of runners was really exciting.
I may not have looked the prettiest, but I finished in 55 minutes and earned my post-race coffee and turkey bacon omelette.
Pros of the 4 Mile Hill Challenge:
- Easy parking & packet pickup
- Pretty course
- Nice race expo with good music and lots of samples
- T-shirt AND a medal for only $17
Cons of the 4 Mile Hill Challenge:
- The medals weren’t out at the end so runners were wandering around trying to find them until they busted out a box and had to hand them out all at once
- They said we’d get a great “swag bag” but we didn’t get anything other than a shirt (not a big deal anymore – if you’ve seen one swag bag, you’ve seen them all)
Matt still has more stamina than I do. I think (being a guy) he always will. But I was really proud of me during the 4 mile hill challenge – my lungs, my legs, my endurance.