Thursday, July 25, 2019

Trail Nerds Psycho Psummer Race Re-Cap

Trail running is something I’ve recently fallen head over heels in love with. I’ve run semi easy, non-technical trails for a while now (with exception to the Mt. Diablo hill climb in California), but until last weekend any trails including rocks had been a no-go. Watching the most talented tail runners descend a rocky hilly trail with the ease and speed of a gazelle did two things: it inspired me, and it also made me think twice about trying to accomplish something that demanding. Thinking about a “real” trail race gave me impostor syndrome like no other. However, being new to the area and wanting to experience something new gave me the much-needed push to sign up for this race. With that said, on Saturday, July 20th, my boyfriend and I decided to test our skill and endurance on a blistering hot day through the most technical and challenging trails we’ve taken on. A.K.A., the Psycho Psummer 10-mile trail run, created and managed by a local trail racing group, Trail Nerds.

Once we signed up, we ran a bunch of hills over the next month (we didn’t really know what to expect), the bf picked up our race packets that Friday, and after getting lost and going to the wrong park, we made it to Wyandotte Park on Saturday morning with a tiny bit of time to spare.

This race was a smaller one, so they didn’t have to implement their usual plan of off-site parking. Since we got there late, parking was tight, but we found a space anyway. The area was SO beautiful already, with a lake to our right and so many geese hanging out. When we got there, racers were warming up in the 80-degree weather, running back and forth in the parking lot, and some were stretching out or using the port-o-pots. I was a little intimidated because it looked like many of the runners were super in shape and experienced, and the impostor feeling stated to grow, but I pushed that way down and reminded myself that everyone was new at this at some point. Besides, everyone seemed so nice!
KC area trail runners!
The start and finish lines were right next to each other, which helped with getting back to the car. After a countdown, we started in an open field, running across it and into the first section of trails.

Starting in the clearing

The first two and a half miles were super rocky and hilly. I quickly learned to pick up my feet more after a few instances of catching my toe on a rock (thank you for saving me Brooks trail shoes!) and catching myself. On a few rocks I noticed my ankles wanting to turn, and the faster runners began slowing down to pick their way through the area, so I took a page from their book and picked my way through as well. It rained earlier in the week, so parts of the trail were a little soft, but most of it was hard and nothing got too muddy. Plus, like another runner next to me pointed out, the elites had already gone before us so the spider webs were gone! I had to laugh at that but, hey, it was true! I didn’t see a spider at all in those 10 miles.

The middle 5 miles helped me make up time. The trail remained narrow but became less rocky and hilly. Every 2-3 miles there was an aid station, and the volunteers there were BEYOND amazing! Even in the now 90-degree heat (the trail itself was 85% shaded, which helped tremendously), they were so upbeat and happy to be out there. Also, a trick that I was recently made aware of for summer running is boob ice. You read that right- boob ice! After having some watermelon, Gatorade, and having my water bottle refilled, I also asked for a big scoop of ice right in my sports bra. It’s not a new thing, because the volunteers knew all about it, and with the extreme temperatures of the day, boob ice helped so much. It didn’t feel bitingly cold, it just kept me cool enough to keep pressing forward. Guys can do it if they are running with a shirt and running vest on. Just tighten the vest straps and pour it down! I stopped at each aid station for more, since boob ice (at least for me) melts every 3 miles. The trails took me past ruins as well. Just as breathtaking as the lake spreading before me in certain parts, there was an old chimney, a ranger station, and an old bathroom building we ran through, the ceiling long gone and the walls a canvas for the many stickers placed there by mountain bikers.

This was on the flatter side of the course - to the right is the lake.

The aid stations for trail races are stocked with everything you can dream of – M&Ms, candy, fruit, pretzels, chips, multiple types of drinks, gels, the list goes on. Trail races are also cup-less, which is great for the environment! You were required to bring some type of hydration on you, either a vest or a handheld (the requirement to carry personal hydration in this race was due to the heat, but it’s always a good idea). You can then fill it up when you get to each aid station.

The bf kicking some trail booty

The last two miles were crazy hard- hilly, rocky, everything is thrown at you in the last part. The trail in that section is made of up three hills, called the Three Sisters.  These sisters don’t take any crap, either. A runner ahead of me had one more lap to go, and he told me he was regretting that decision. After jumping back and forth for a few hundred feet to avoid a deep part in the trail the rain had eroded, I was SO happy to make it to the last aid-station with two miles to go. My clothes were soaked with sweat and melted boob ice, and when I got there (a.k.a. heaven), the volunteers took out a washcloth soaked in ice water and put it around my neck. I was SO happy for it, I felt like Christmas came early lol! The station also had a GIANT blow up unicorn, so that was a good sign. The last two magical miles took me through the Three Sisters to a flatter portion. Suddenly I could hear people cheering and whooping! I ran out of the trail and through the finish line to collect my medal.

Looking as dead as I felt (but feeling fabulous in my cooling scarf that didn't work. 
Also super pale, curtesy SPF one million 😋
Those 10 miles were the toughest mileage I’ve done so far, and the challenge didn’t disappoint! To give you an idea of the heat index on Saturday, the El Salvadorian place we decided on after the race for pupusas had actually closed down early due to the heat in the kitchen (I’m guessing they had no A/C back there)! Proper trail shoes were a necessity in this race (my boyfriend used his road shoes and he said after that they weren’t enough protection from the rocks).

He came in about 10 minutes ahead of me.
That all said, I can’t wait to run another Trail Nerds race again. They can take a scorching hot day and have you run 10 miles and enjoy it. That’s talent! If you’ve never run a trail race before and have been curious, I highly encourage you to try one! You can get a feel for the technicality level before you sign up, and they are SO much fun. Another good thing about running a trail race vs. finding a trail is that usually the trails have been checked, weed-whacked, cleared, etc. Also, the sheer number of runners on the trails make it harder for you to encounter a snake, etc., since they typically shy away from all the noise (be careful regardless). Until then I’ll see you on the hills!

*For an overview of the race, including course and aid stations, click HERE!

It's a beautiful day for a beautiful medal!

We did it! We also mostly take photos after we've been through the ringer. Run life. 💁

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