NJ Trail Winter Race Recap

I’m not sure how it took me so long to try a trail race.  Since I can get competitive with myself on road races, I figured pregnancy is the perfect time to venture into trail races and just enjoy the scenery.

Well… I think I may be hooked.  This was SO much fun! Don’t get me wrong, it was hard… running in snow is a full body workout! I expected my hips and ankles to be angry for trying to stabilize my body the whole time, but other than a little stiffness, I feel fine.

The weather could not have been more gorgeous! It was a bright, sunny day in the mid-30s… I was cold at the start, but felt perfect as we got going.

Here’s the start of the race, the one place where the snow was actually packed down well, and I thought, hey- this won’t be so bad!

NJ Trail race start

However, the flat, packed snow quickly turned to fluffy snow on endless hills.  When my watch beeped at 1 mile I could have sworn we had done at least two… it was slow going in that snow!

I was a little worried about how I would survive 5 more miles of climbing snowy, slippery trails, but the bulk of the hills were in the first 3 miles.  After that, we got longer stretches of flat and even some downhill portions.

My plan was to take my time and stop and get pictures along the way, but that didn’t happen.  I never even stopped to walk… partly because some sections were single file and you just had to keep going because there were people behind you, and partly because I was enjoying “running” it and wanted to see how I would do.

I wasn’t moving fast at all, but I was consistently passing people, especially in the second half, so that felt good.  🙂 (Thanks to the Yaktrax, I felt confident picking up speed going downhill.)

I tried to look up and enjoy the view as often as possible, but I was also very focused on the path in front of me and avoiding any rocks or limbs, and choosing the most traveled patch of snow for each next step.  But despite having my head down, it was a serene and beautiful experience.  After the first 2 miles or so, everyone thinned out and I felt like I was (mostly) alone out there running through the woods… just amazing.

We looped around and finished on a different trail and dropped us right back at the start.

NJ Trail finish

Heading to the finish

The half marathoners headed back out for their second loop, but I was happy to call it a day!

NJ Trail post race

Although I felt really strong, this was a snowy, tough trail so I don’t know if I ever broke a ten minute mile!  As I crossed the finish line, I realized everyone else was slowed down by the snow as well and I might actually have a chance at placing.  There were very few women who had already finished, and some had run the 5k (I did the 10k).

What do you know… I was the 3rd woman! So my prize is 50% off another trail race… and I’m already excited about doing this again.

I also love my new hat.  🙂

NJ trail 3rd female

Note to the baby: We made it through our first race together at almost 15 weeks pregnant.  Big sister L is convinced you had an awesome time on your “ride” in there this morning.  I hope we can run together for a few more months!

Have you ever done a trail race?  Or run in the snow?

49 thoughts on “NJ Trail Winter Race Recap

  1. Trail running is pretty awesome, huh? Of the things I’ve learned so far, keep you head down to watch where you’re going and time doesn’t mean a thing on the trails. Great job Mama! And I love the note to the baby. So cute! 😉
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..My Happy SweatMy Profile

  2. Yeah snowy trails can be tough but it looks like you rocked it! Congrats! I’ve done trail races but not snowy ones. On the other hand I train on snowy trails (and roads) all the time. It’s pretty much all we have here. Haha!
    Marcia recently posted..Women, Running and RestMy Profile

  3. Congrats on a great race and a great prize 🙂 There’s something magical and fun about running on fresh powdery snow. I really miss running in Calgary. I had something similar to yaktraks: I call them magic studs. They are awesome on a packed layer of icy snow – I mainly wear them for hiking though. I found running on them a bit “funny.” 🙂 So when is the next trail race?
    May recently posted..Another week of Recovery…My Profile

  4. Love it! And love the paint line on the snow. Trail races really are just the best. We have one in Md. that is a 50k in Feb. My friends and I always team up to do a relay for it and it’s always muddy as all get out–so much fun! Congrats on a great run out there!
    misszippy recently posted..Winter of discontentMy Profile

  5. Fantastic! Trail running so much fun. Haven’t done one in the snow yet though (only partially snow covered last spring). Great job and woo hoo on the placement. Nice work.
    Robin recently posted..I Need Some SunMy Profile

  6. Oh my gosh Laura!!! You are one amazing mother runner! I have never done a trail race either but I could understand about the pacing – wow – so different then the roads. Good for you!! So glad you could pick up a new “hobby” while creating baby #2!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown: Weekend RestMy Profile

  7. Congrats Laura! Amazing job placing with baby!

    NJ has the absolute best trials. Here in Charlotte, trails are much more narrow and have branches so I’d be terrified to even walk on them pregnant. One year, you need to do the Turkey Swamp race in Freehold in August — I’ve done both the 10- and 20-milers, great course! I also love running in Holmdel Park (my hometown) and the Manasquan reservoir if you ever want to venture a little south for a pretty trail run.
    Jen recently posted..Pregnancy update: week 29My Profile

  8. I did a trail series last winter and it was super fun. We don’t have a lot of snow in Arkansas, but we get a lot of mud and it is awesome to splash around.

  9. Way to go! I have never done a trail race, however I have run on trails, and I once participated in a triathlon where part of the run course was on an unpaved trail. I live in Canada so running in the snow is an almost daily occurrence during 4 months of the year. I love the challenge that both trails and snow brings. Congrats on placing in your age group – that is impressive!

  10. Those trails are so pretty! And you know how I feel about trail running, love it!! I’m glad you finally tried a trail race, now come to Rochester so we can race together (alright, maybe have your baby first ;)).
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman recently posted..Never Give UpMy Profile

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