When I found out about the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon, I knew I wanted to run. I also knew it would be challenging. I traveled back from the East Coast that Wednesday; I felt tired Thursday and Friday but figured: I was waking up early (3:30 am) and crashing early at 7 pm, so I would probably be fine. The worst case was I would be tired and just wouldn’t run. I would be sad but it would be fine.
My friend Brittany decided to run her first race (the 10k) since having a baby. For some reason, my husband Tim decided he wanted to run as well. Tim hasn’t been running races lately due to being busy and not being into it, but he thought this race sounded cool.
Brittany and I went down to Vasquez Rocks the day before and picked up our bibs. The Spacerock Trail Half Marathon was about an hour from Edwards, and it’s hard to resist a race that close. I haven’t run any trail races since moving away from Northern California, so I was excited. The Vasquez Rocks have been used to shoot movies like Startrek, so it was fun to run a race there.
About the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon:
The Spacerock Trail Half Marathon has about 3000 feet of elevation gain over 13.7 miles. It was not easy on our day, and it was also fairly windy. There were parts of various peaks that I thought I might blow over.
Spacerock Trail Half Marathon Fuel and Gear:
Realistically I used what I had at my house, and I actually had no idea what I would fuel with. I found a GU at mile 7 and used my Camelbak pack filled with Maurten 160. I ran in the Hoka Zinal. I was happy with everything I chose, although fuel was just whatever I had at my house and made sense. I have a fairly iron stomach and am not loyal to any particular fuel.
Spacerock Trail Half Marathon Race Day:
We got to the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon around 6:30 am, took the shuttle to the start, and relaxed until the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon at 7:30 am start. It was chilly but quickly warmed up. The first mile was fairly congested. My goal was just to hang out, have fun, and finish. I didn’t have any time goals because it’s tough to do with trail races.
I ran an 8:39 first mile, and I knew that would likely be my fastest. During the second mile of the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon, we ran through a long tunnel under the highway. I didn’t love it because it was dark, and I felt like I would trip…which was just a precursor for later. They did keep the tunnel lit up with glow sticks, but it was pretty much pitch black.
Then we began a long and grueling ascent. Ultimately, we went up nearly 900 ft between miles 1.5-3.5, and I wondered: how would I ever make it? My miles kept getting slower, and my second mile was 10:10, followed by 12:02 and a 15:14. I knew they were tough miles, but I wondered: would I log a 20-minute mile? Despite getting slower and feeling like, “what did I get myself into,” I wasn’t being passed. I figured most people probably felt the same way.
It was so windy around mile 3.5 and, at first, peek at the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon. I was around a few females, and we had created a nice pack, but they all floored it downhill. They quickly gained around 2-3 minutes on me. I told myself: run your race, and it’s okay. Since we could see about a mile in front of us, I saw them getting further away.
The following two miles of the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon were relatively downhill on a fire road. I liked it because it was smooth and easy to run. I felt confident and strong…of course, I did; I was running on a smooth downhill. I hit mile 6 at 8:53. I focused on making it to the halfway point of mile 7. I knew the race was around 13.7 miles, and I figured mentally mile 7 would be a good “halfway point” of the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon.
Shortly after the aid station around mile 6, we hit another uphill. By this point, I was pretty much running along with people passing me at random times and I passing them. The aid station woman said: you’re in 4th place. I was shocked. The women I had run the first few miles with were the only ones in front of me. I had a GU around mile 7 as well. I was drinking the Maurten 160, so I didn’t feel too bad, but I figured a GU wouldn’t hurt.
We began smooth single track around mile 7.5. I found myself fairly confident and gaining speed around the single track. I began feeling good as we began climbing again. I passed one woman who ultimately put me into third, where I stayed for the rest of the race. Since I knew she was a good downhill runner, it felt as though I was waiting for her to pass on every downhill.
As we continued along the Pacific Crest Trail single track, I was probably too confident and took a nasty fall somewhere between miles 9-10. I fell on my knees and my left side with minor scratches on my face as well. I quickly bounced back up with minimal pain and kept running. As I hit mile 10, I felt the blood going down my legs. There wasn’t a lot I could do. I wasn’t in pain, but also, the aid stations weren’t close. If I stopped, I would just be alone in the middle of the Vasquez Rocks. I didn’t notice the blood, except I could feel it running down my legs.
We went back under the tunnel around mile 10.5. I remembered we had hit it around mile 1.5-2 and thought: would the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon be short? I wouldn’t even really care if it was. But I was mistaken. The final few miles of the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon, especially miles 11 and 12, were rough. I knew there was a hill but figured it was a small hill, not extremely challenging ones.
The Spacerock Trail Half Marathon and Trail 10k met up, and we finished the last couple of miles together. It was nice to see people. I didn’t anticipate the last mile of the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon to be so challenging. I had briefly looked over the course details but didn’t realize how much elevation there was in the final mile. We kept climbing, and it felt like we were never going to end.
Finally, we rounded the corner, and I heard the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon finish. I crossed the finish line just under 2:30 and as third female overall. I was fairly pleased as it was a tough course, and I had no real goals for the race. Plus, I found out my husband won overall!
I enjoyed the Spacerock Trail Half Marathon and would run again. I am happy with my choice of fueling, which was all I had at my house in reality. I ran the race how I wanted and didn’t get caught up in people dropping me on downhills. I fall most times. I run on trails, so that isn’t surprising. In all, it was a great time, and I do enjoy trail races.
Questions for you:
Have you done a trail race?
What is the hilliest race you’ve done?