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Penyagalosa Trail Race: Natalie White leaves her mark on it

by natsmountain
Thursday 27th April 2017
Selecting what races to run can be sometimes a difficult decision. There's so many races on the calendar where do you start?
Last year Robbie and I decided we'd like to run at the Penyagalosa trail race, the short race, 63km. It had been announced that it would be the location for the World Trail Champs in 2018, so thought it would be a good chance to take a look at the course.
The MIM was 63km and just short of 3000m ascent. A fast "runnable" course and not really my forte. If I want to get better at running these longer distances I need to select races that once again are out of my comfort zone. It would be so nice to run every race up and down mountains feeling content that you're in your happy place. However to improve on what is my forte I really need to run these races that are mentally and physically hard work, that really push me. Running on a flat dirt track for however long doesn't do anything for me, however it's a good mental test and in the long run will help in the mountains.

nats collage 2

The first 30km was what I would describe "flat", but more than likely to others, undulating. The descents were fairly technical with big, loose rocks, so suited me. 

Nats collage

I was trying to concentrate on moving forward, running relaxed and controlled, slowly passing streams of people. I was kind of enjoying it. My nutrition plan seemed to be working, SIS gels, a few sweets, cookies from the aid stations, salt tabs and a mixture of water and cola. 
After 30km, the bigger climbs appeared, but were quite runnable and not as technical as the downhills. I wanted to hike, but I was actually enjoying the feeling of running each step, whilst nibbling on some choc chip cookie. I had no idea what place I was, only that I was passing a lot of women on the climbs and the flatter sections. It was hard work. I was in the zone and just concentrating on my own race, feeling like everything was going to plan.

Pen 2

The last climb was good, running and hiking followed by a longish runnable, undulating section before a drinks station. I had a sudden urge for a wee, so jumped off the trail in to prickly bush, kind of crouched down, but nothing happened, just felt like I was scenting like what Rosa, my dog, does... it did make me laugh.
As my legs and feet were hurting the finish was in sight, mentally and physically I felt my race had gone to plan. I had learnt I could actually run a long running race, eat on the go, rather than just on big climbs, and run through those low parts when you just want to sit on a rock.
There's still plenty to improve upon, but with each ultra race I am learning, growing as a runner and having a fair amount of fun along the way. Now I'm off to run up and down big mountains. Mont Blanc 80km next.

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