In July I ran in the Xterra Magnolia Hill 21k trail race. While I had planned on running it as a training run, it did not go down anywhere as expected. It’s taken me some time to put my thoughts down, as this race questioned my ability and my sanity.
The day before race day, I had a 4 mile easy run in the morning, it went well… I even had to remind myself to take it easy. The rest of the day was spent relaxing … being sure to hydrate and eating my pre race meals – salad for lunch and a pasta bake for dinner. I laid out my outfit for the next day and got to bed early since my wake up call was at 3:30 am.
Xterra Magnolia Hill Race Recap
As I knew it would… 3:30 came early. I was up and had coffee and my breakfast of toast/almond butter/banana, hit the showers and got dressed. I made a nuun slushy for the road, as it was going to be a warm one (79 and 93% humidity at the start). The drive over to Navasota was pretty one once the sun came up… the sunrise was gorgeous, and I even got to see a doe and a fawn cross the road. I arrived at the ranch in plenty of time to pick up my packet, get my chair set up, and use the port-a-cans.
The race started promptly at 8:00 am. After the course briefing from the race director, we were off. The 21k course consisted of 2 loops of the bike course and 1 loop of the running course. The bike course was about 5.5 miles and the running course was about 3 miles. I started out at an easy pace and had planned to keep that pace up for the entire race. The course was a mix of jeep trails, single track dirt, sand and some rocky parts. There were plenty of hills… like nothing I have around where I run. My first loop was pretty uneventful, I was hot, but feeling good.
I started loop 2 feeling confident that I would have a good race. About a mile into the second loop, it hit me… a massive cramp on my right calf. At first I wasn’t sure if was just a cramp as I couldn’t put any weight on it. I massaged away at it… and was able to walk for a while. Some thoughts of a DNF crept into my head, wouldn’t that be the smart thing to do. Since I was at least a good mile from an aid station, I opted to walk it out and within the next mile I was able to start slowly jogging on the flat portions. I continued shuffling along walking the uphills and technical parts, jogging when I could on the flats.
Being able to walk during a trail run, allows you to be able to take in the scenery instead of constantly looking down. This place was full of beauty and the lake (blue and not Texas brown) was very pretty.
The final loop – the running course was even more difficult than the bike course. It was a challenge to get through so many hills with my calf feeling the way that it did. I think my brain was a bit fried, as I forgot my go pro at the final aid station and ended up tacking on another half mile to the run. The last aid stations were so helpful in the heat… one had a bucket of ice water to dunk my hat in, the other gave me a cup of ice (hence the forgetting of the camera).
I was happy to see the finish line… but not happy to see that it was on top of a hill. I managed to hobble up it and was rewarded with a bottle of ice cold water and an ice cold towel. I came away from this race feeling it was tougher than my first marathon… I’m pretty sure that the heat and calf cramp were the main culprits for that feeling.
I made a few goals during this race let’s see how I did against them.
5 Goals for Xterra Magnolia Hill
- Practice pre-race meals (evening prior and breakfast). Nailed it.
- Execute on fueling and hydration strategy. I think my hydration was on point, but I think I waited too long to take any nutrition…. and I wonder if I need to include salt tabs when it is this hot.
- Keep pace “steady” through the race. Missed on this one, after the calf cramp my pace slowed considerably.
- Don’t fall. Nailed it… did not fall!
- Have fun!! I did have fun… even when I was in pain, I had a great time chatting it up with the folks at the aid stations and taking in the scenery.
So… what did I think of this race? Should you put it on your calendar?
- Well organized race
- Challenging course
- Aid stations frequent and with plenty of water/gatorade
- Southeast Texas in July… hot and humid
- Challenging course… yes this can be a pro and a con… this is not a flat easy trail course