Thursday, June 6, 2019

Into The Wild Fremont Canyon 28K Trail Race Recap

Saturday morning was the Into The Wild Orange County Fremont Canyon 28K Trail Race.

As you know, I'm currently training for my second 50 mile race - the San Francisco Ultra at the end of July. My training plan had 22 miles on the calendar for Saturday and 10 for Sunday. Since I already knew I'd be getting in 13+ on Sunday with the Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Half Marathon, I thought this race would be PERFECT when Elise told me about it.


You see, the Fremont Canyon Trails have actually been privately owned for the last 60 years so you are only able to explore them a couple times a year when they open them to the public or with a docent-led program, which I was lucky enough to do back in September of 2017. What better way to celebrate National Trails Day than by opting outside?!

It's awesome that Into The Wild OC Trail Runs can get access to these trails!

I sort of love that this race is "old school" in the sense that you still mail in your printed registration with your check (you all know I love snail mail, not to mention you save on the extra fees websites tack on when you are checking out...).


The hubby and I are currently in the process of renovating our condo, so it's a bit of a cluster around here. One thing that helped calm my nerves was taking my #FlatCarlee picture, that way I knew I wouldn't forget anything come race morning.

My #FlatCarlee included - Navy Dot PRO Compression Socks, Yellow Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Trail Sisters Trucker, Nathan VaporHowe
Hydration Vest
, PROBAR BOLT chews, navy Handful Bra, Sarah Marie Design Studio Runner Muscle Tankelite Road ID, blue and black
silicone wedding bands, blue and yellow Momentum Jewelry wraps, COROS APEX Watch, Epic Wipes and Brooks Cascadia 13.

After a homemade vegan pizza and some foam rolling, it was time to hit the hay because I knew race morning would come bright and early. Even though the race wasn't scheduled to start until 7:30am (which seems late for a race to start, especially one that's ~17 miles), I set my alarms early enough so I could get in a little work before I had to get ready.

My body woke me up before 3:30am... 

Thankfully I looked at the directions close to the time I woke up because for some reason I thought it'd only take me 35 minutes, when, in actuality, it was set to be closer to an hour. Good thing I caught my oversight before it was too late!

I didn't have any plans for the race. I knew I didn't want to "race" because I had a half marathon the following morning (and the elevation gains of close to 4,000 feet told me I'd probably be power walking plenty of uphill anyway), but decided to take whatever my body gave me when I got to the starting line. {FYI - As I was sitting in the car, watching runners head to grab their bibs I knew I was a bit out of my league if I wanted to "race" because everyone looked FAST and STRONG!}

When in doubt, selfie ;) 

I arrived in plenty of time and after I paid my $5 for parking (since the entrance of the trails are within the Irvine Regional Park you have to pay their entrance fee, which is $5 per car on the weekends), I made my way to the bib pick-up. Of course it was very chill, like most trail races are, and I was back to the car within a few minutes.

Thanks to the volunteers who were helping out with the race!!

While I was waiting for the race to start I started freaking out a bit about the snake situation. You see, snakes are plentiful around here and I was especially worried since the trails we were running don't normally have a ton of people on them to scurry them away. (Once I found Elise she calmed my nerves a bit by letting me know the trails were really more fire roads, which are fairly wide, meaning I could stay in the middle of the road and have plenty of room to avoid the slithery snakes if I did come across one. Spoiler Alert - I didn't see any snakes... PRAISE THE LORD!)


Before long folks started congregating near the starting area and we were getting our pre-race announcements (which included a warning that the weather would be warm so enjoy the cloud cover June Gloom was giving us at the moment).

The weather definitely could have been worse... 

If you've ever been to a trail race, you know most of them occur with little to no fan-fare. There wasn't a National Anthem or a celebrity wishing us luck, just the race director counting us down from five and sending us into the great outdoors.


Like I mentioned, I didn't have a plan. I ended up sticking with Elise and her brother-in-law for the first few flat miles. Once we hit the uphills Daniel took off like a mountain goat and I eventually started pulling ahead of Elise. There weren't a ton of runners at the event (in total there were 90 finishers), but it was still nice to be able to chat with some as I ran. The community, especially in the trail running realm, is amazing so I love meeting new friends and talking with everyone.

The views definitely did not suck! You can see one of the trails in the distance on the ridge.

I wasn't too terribly worried about the course, mostly because I was just planning to take it easy and enjoy the run. With that said, there was still quite a bit of elevation gain. For most trail races in the past, the strategy of walking steep uphills or ones that I can't see the top, while running the flats and downhills has served me well so I decided to continue with that pattern. I stopped and took a few photos along the way, but for the most part just plotted along, enjoying nature.


There were four aid stations on the course (at Miles 3.7, 8, 11.4 and 14), which was helpful, but I didn't stop at any of them. I wore my hydration vest (my Nathan Vapor Howe 12L) which was full of water and had my PROBAR BOLT chews with me so didn't see a need for the pit-stops. Even still it was nice to have the volunteers out there to cheer us on.

You can see a runner in the distance, but for the most part, once we all got in our groove we were fairly spread out.

Directions aren't really my forte... I could probably get lost in a box if left to my own devices. With that said, I'm always a little nervous to run on new-to-me trails, especially if I can't see the person in front of me because I worry I'll get lost. Thankfully they did a GREAT job marking the course (flour arrows on the ground when we came to a potential fork in the trail, stakes with signs notating 'wrong way' and ribbons on clothespins attached to a bush or tree every half mile or so).

Let me tell you, having a course clearly marked is MUCH APPRECIATED!

It may look like a big loop, but there were still a few spots you could have veered off course... and, knowing me, if someone
could get lost, it would have been me... so I am stoked they took as much caution as they did to keep us on the right track!

If I ruled the world I would definitely say we should have sunshine 99% of the time (during the day, of course), but the June Gloom was somewhat appreciated during the race. It did keep the temperatures lower (on the other hand, it kept the humidity high - which is definitely NOT my jam!), but the misty cloud cover socked in the magical views so we couldn't see all of the beauty around us. In fact, there were a couple points on the course (towards the tops of the peaks) where you probably couldn't see more than 10-15 yards around you. It was sort of like running in the clouds.

Not sure if you can tell in the background, but it is rather foggy...

I was stoked the views were visible along the Lakeview Trail because they were stunning! Seeing as Southern California always seems to be in a continual drought, things are usually brown, dusty and dead around here, but with the wet winter we had there was some green and yellow thrown in along the hills. I didn't take a ton of pictures because at that point I wanted to take advantage of the downhill we were FINALLY given, but take my word for it - it was gorgeous!

Towards the end of the race I could see a female in front of me. The competitive runner in me kept saying "Maybe she's in your age group, go catch her", but the conservative runner in me kept saying "Remember, you have a half marathon tomorrow - take it easy and enjoy the miles." I'm not sure if it was the last sneaky uphill or just the conservative runner in me, but I didn't chase her down. (I did look at the results to see if she was in my AG... she was... oh well, next time ;))

The race was listed as a 28K, which is equivalent to about 17.4 miles, but I knew it was going to be shorter than that when we met back up with the portion of the course we originally headed out on (if you look at the map, it's sort of like a lollipop, where you run from the start out to a loop, run around the loop {the sucker portion} and then double back on the straight away you started on {the stick portion}). I wasn't too worried about the mileage, seeing as the unconventional distance meant I probably wouldn't run it again unless I do the race in the future, so I didn't feel the need to hit 28K exactly.

When I looked on Strava after the race it seemed like most people had 17.1-17.3 for the distance.
Elise mentioned the previous time they ran it she thought they started a parking lot or two further
away from the trail which added in some extra distance that we were missing in this year's race.

When I crossed the finish line I was given my "medal" which was a mini cowbell. I originally thought the Velcro loop it was on was perfect to go around your finger, but was recently told the bell is actually meant to be hooked to your hydration pack when you are running so bikers and fellow runners hear you coming - HOW SMART IS THAT?! I donate the majority of my race bling to Medals4Mettle, but getting something that I can use is greatly appreciated!

Not a ton of signage for this small race, so I had to take advantage of the photo op when I found it ;) 

I wanted to stick around to see Elise finish (I didn't realize her hubby and kids were riding around in the park, hoping to see her cross the finish line as well). I figured she was 10-15 minutes behind me, so while I was waiting I went over to scope out the post-race treats. I grabbed some grapes and cantaloupe before heading back to cheer in more runners.

Not a huge spread, but with less than 100 runners and the inexpensive entry fee I'm stoked they had anything at all.

Soon enough Elise was crossing the finish line with a 30 minute course PR from the last time she ran the race - BOOM! (She mentioned that the previous time she ran it, that due to the wildfires there were some route adjustments and this course seemed like you could run more of it than the previous one. I am always grateful for a more run-able course!)

This lady is one amazing mama, runner and friend!

I waited around until they started printing out the official finish times because they had mentioned if you won an age group award you had to be present to claim your prize. I checked out the sheet and it had be in fifth place so I went to find the race director and thank her for an awesome event before hopping in the car and making the journey back to Oceanside.

Thanks for the amazing run, Alison!

I would've loved to hang out and cheer in more runners but the traffic said it was getting worse and the hubby and I had house stuff to tackle before heading to San Diego around 3pm for the Rock 'N' Roll San Diego #WeRunSocial meet-up.

"Some traffic that's getting worse" is NOT
what you want to see on the directions...

PS Come to find out, the first two females overall were in my age group and they weren't eligible for age group awards (since they scored overall awards), so I technically am listed as taking THIRD in the 25-34 year old females! Since I left I doubt my pint glass, sunglasses and phone pop-socket will be shipped, but I'm still stoked with placing in my age group.

Apparently I should have been standing on the THIRD place podium... 

I am super thankful Elise told me about this race. Not only were the trails and views awesome, but it was a fairly inexpensive race ($49.99 plus the cost of a stamp to mail your registration). If I am free when future Into The Wild OC Trail Run races pop up on the calendar I definitely wouldn't hesitate about registering for another (or seven). And, shoot, maybe next time I can talk the hubby and more people to join in on the fun! Running is always better with friends!


Did you celebrate #NationalTrailsDay this past weekend?

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