Dirt Devil Racing Stairway to Heaven Recap

 

Yesterday’s race was amazing and it was amazing in so many different ways that I don’t even know where to start.

I was more nervous and scared before this race than I’ve been for a very long time. I really had no idea what I was doing or what to expect, but that’s what drew me to do it. I was scared enough of it that I wanted to to conquer that fear.

Trail racing is so much different than road racing. I figured it would be a little different, but it was way more different than I imagined.

Luckily I had a little head’s up from my trail running friend, Leslie, who told me that people walk in trail races and warned me it was going to take a long time. When I went to pick up my packet, Dr. Runco also warned me that the Stairway to Heaven was not just a trail running half marathon. He called it an “ultra half marathon”. He warned me it was one of the most intense trail races around, but said it was also the most rewarding. He’s a smart guy.

Here’s just another reason I was so nervous. This “warning” is on the race website.

*****WARNING*****
THE 15K STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN IS A DIFFICULT, HILLY AND TECHNICAL  COURSE.   HOWEVER, IT IS ALSO ONE OF THE MOST REWARDING AND CHALLENGING

TRAIL  RUNS IN SAN DIEGO.

How could I pass up the opportunity to do it, right?

Smile

My race outfit was pretty much the normal (Mizuno tank and shorts, Handful bra, Halo visor, Pro Compression socks), but I had my Wave Kazan trail shoes and this Nathan Hydration pack.

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I chose dark colors because I figured I was going to get dirty out there. It was mandatory that all runners carry water with them, so I took the plunge and got that hydration pack to be safe. I’m so glad I did. I was not going to take any chances with hydration issues.

 

I was so nervous the night before I didn’t sleep that well. I’m not sure what happened though because in the morning when I woke up I wasn’t really scared any more. I was just excited.

The one thing I like about small races that are close to home is an easy drive to the start.

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That start was easy to find. Everything was really laid back and low key. I took my time to fumble around and try to look like I knew what I was doing before heading over to check in.

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They had a couple tents and a couple port-a-potties. That was about it, but that’s all you need at small trail races.

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While standing in line I asked some people about the course marking. I always have a fear I’m going to get lost out on a course. A nice lady told me it was marked really well and that there was going to be enough people out there that I would know where to go. I also asked her about snakes and she said she had never seen one out there. That made me feel a little better.

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It made me feel just good enough to get a before picture. Ha.

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It was a short walk to the start line.

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No corrals. No big crowds. No timing chips.

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Just some trail runners ready to race.

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We got a few last instructions from Dr. Runco, the man behind Dirt Devil Racing.

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He told us what markings to look for (plates with arrows, chalk arrows on the ground and green ribbons on trees) and gave a few last minute pointers.

The race started out pretty much how I expected it to, except there were quite a few small rocks we were running over so we really had to be careful with our steps. I was going at a pretty good pace (around a 7:45 or so) for the first two miles. I was feeling great, loving it and was thinking that it wasn’t going to be that bad.

Then we hit this hill at mile three.

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That’s right. Mile 3.

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It was then that I figured out this was going to be one heck of a tough course. They warned me.

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I walked for a bit up the hill (as did almost everyone else).

One thing I was not really prepared for was how hard the downhill parts were.

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They were rocky, steep and slippery. I guess they call that “technical”. Ha. Not only did I have to watch my steps very carefully, but holy cow they did a number on my quads.

There was a lot of single track portions mixed in with fire roads. It made the whole race fun and go by quickly because you really didn’t know what was coming up next. It was like one big exciting adventure.

At around mile 7 or so was the infamous Stairway to Heaven.

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I got a little extra adrenaline at the bottom. There’s something about taking on a challenge like that that I just love.

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There were a lot of times I couldn’t take pictures along the course because I was pretty much just trying not to fall on my face and was keeping an eye out for snakes, especially during the single track spots. This darn stairway really needed documentation though.

Here you go.

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Yep, there was a Dirt Devil Angel cheering everyone on from the top.

The top of that stairway is where I felt this overwhelming feeling of joy. It was much needed with all of life’s happenings as of late. I thought about how freaking lucky I am to be able to do this and be outside and just work hard and move.

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Not to mention the view was awesome.

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I thought the climbing was done, but it wasn’t. However my picture taking was because my hands were too sweaty and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost on the way back.

There were less people around after that climb so I was looking for the course markings a bit more.

Luckily I found them and before I knew it that finish line was right there.

Wait, was that the finish line?

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Ha ha. Kidding.

Instead of medals at the end of the race we got some pretty cool swag.

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I really have to say, that I loved everything about my first trail race. Of course I picked one of the most difficult races around, but I’m sure this won’t be my last.

I was telling Andrew last night that this race was so different because there really wasn’t a part of me that wanted it to be over. It was like one big fun adventure I was on all by myself.

I LOVED IT!

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My finish time was 2:16:11. I have no idea if I placed or if that’s even a good time for a race like this.

What I do know is that I loved everything about it- the dirt, the nerves, the hills, the adventure, the views, the people.

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Thank you Dr. Runco and Dirt Devil Racing for showing my what trail racing is all about.

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I will definitely be back for more.

I have so much more to learn and so many more adventures to tackle. I’m already excited.

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They always have a post race party where they do awards and everything, but I had to get home for mama duties. I’ll make sure to make the party at the next race though because it sounds like a blast.

 

Besides of fun little roasting adventure, Mama duties yesterday included a late breakfast with the boys while attempting to read a book to them upside down

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getting as many hugs as possible, and sporting my new bling around everywhere. I’m really proud of it.

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Obviously I had to put my new glass to good use too last night.

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Thank you Mom and Dad for the Costco margaritas.

Smile

 

 

That’s a wrap friends. my legs are not really happy with me today, but that’s no surprise. Instead of running this morning, we’re going to make some gluten free green banana bread. Isn’t that a great idea?

 

Have a great day!

 

 

Who has any trail racing tips or a favorite trail race to tell us about?

Who wants to come run the next one? (This one is in October.)

Do you like uphill or downhill better when hiking or running? (It’s a toss up for me.)

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Comments

  1. 1
    Kathy says:

    I think I would love this kind of race. I don’t like the muck runs, foam mess, or mud any thing but, just being on a trail ~ exploring and moving around nature….except snakes (OH I would I DIE IF I SAW ONE!!)….looks lovely!

  2. 2
    Judy Westacott says:

    I am so proud of you Kirsten!! You are so inspiring …. what an amazing journey from start to finish. I knew you would be hooked with this kind of challenge.

  3. 3
    elizabeth says:

    Green banana bread is fine, but French toast sounds even better! ;)

  4. 4
    Janice says:

    That sounds like a really fun race. Sounds like you rocked it! Way to go!!

  5. 5
    Laura P says:

    Way to go! That looks like a seriously tough but fun race, I would be down for that! There are a lot of trail races up here in Northern California, I need to pick some!

  6. 6

    Looks like you had an amazing time…AND got an amazing time, as well!! Didn’t you say, someone told you to expect around 3hrs??! 2:16 looks pretty darn great :)

    The closest I’ve come to a trail race, was a Spartan Super – 8mi with obstacles. It wasn’t too far away – Vail Lake. As you’ve said, trail running is a whole different animal for sure!! I did it with my friend, with the intention of having fun…and completing all the obstacles; otherwise it’s 30 burpees, for each obstacle missed :O I was amazed though, how people could fly down the trails!! Downhills are hard for me too!! I’m always worried about falling.

    Anyway…as always, AWESOME JOB!!!!

  7. 7
    Lesley says:

    Sounds exactly like the kind of running I love! I hike, trail run and road run and they each are special in their own way. Recently, I had an opportunity like your trail race adventure. We were visiting Vancouver, Canada and did the Grousse Mountain Grind, a trail that is shy of 2 miles that is basically straight up 2800 ft that has close to 3000 stairs of either wood or rock. People there do this as a challenge as to how fast they can complete it in. It was very intense and when I saw the 1/4 mark sign I thought, no way! But the top was amazing and the challenge was good for my spirit. So good in fact, I did it again the next day! If you are ever there, try it. If I come to San Diego (maybe in March 2015) maybe you will take me on this run!

  8. 8

    How amazing Kristin!!!!! LOve the beauty & the top & all of it!!!! YOU ROCK LADY!!!!

  9. 9
    Holly says:

    That race looks challenging but fun. I love mission trails and miss hiking it. There are so many great trails and spots to explore there. Kwaay Paay is my favorite challenge.

  10. 10
    Carrie says:

    I love trail races..they’re such a change of pace from road races. They really “put you in your place” and show that it’s not always about speed..you have to respect good ol’ mother nature or she’ll spit you out :)

  11. 11

    Looks like a lot of fun! I have been eyeing some trail races for a change of pace, but they are definitely intimidating!

    Congratulations on facing your fear! :)

  12. 12
    Kim says:

    That race looks awesome!!
    The half that I did with Hunter in June was a trail run – challenging but not nearly as steep as yours!!!

  13. 13
    Marsha says:

    Great Job! I can totally relate to all the fears you mentioned, especially getting lost (and snakes). Even though you’ve run so many races, do you ever get scared of new ones such as this, mostly because you’re running it “alone” with total strangers? It’s kind of like riding in an elevator with total strangers and no one talks. LOL. Then again, I guess you’re there for yourself, not to be all social. It’s late. Just curious. I’m totally babbling. ;)

  14. 14
    Amy H says:

    I love Mission Trails Park – I used to hike there a ton and love those stairs (but I’ve never tried to run up them!). I think that’s where you are, anyway. I know what you mean about those slippery downhills too. San Diego trails are really different than trails in other areas – lots more mud, roots, and leaves in the Midwest (vs dirt and rocks).

  15. 15

    Great job Kristin!!! That trail race looks amazingly difficult. Thanks for sharing your recap and how fun to do a race that’s sort of out of the norm. I would love to do a race like that someday but I live in Dallas so there aren’t a lot of trails around here.
    I much prefer uphill to downhill. Downhill is HARD and kills my quads too. Nice work lady!

  16. 16

    Wow – you rock! I’ve never done a trail run, and I probably wouldn’t start with one like this. You make everything look easy though :)

  17. 17

    You are such a rock star!!!! Great job mama!!!!

  18. 18

    Your time was really great….especially for your first Trail Half. We are glad you enjoyed it and hope you will come join us for Raptor Ridge in October!! While difficult Raptor Ridge is a less technical trail run with faster times! Nice pictures by the way!

  19. 19

    I my first trail race this past weekend too (10mile) and had a similar experience with the up and downhills – my lower legs took it a lot harder than I thought and it was crazy hard to keep footing. It took place mostly in the woods and it was really rocky with some wicked hills and descents. I actually have the same hydration pack as you and was thanking the stars I brought it! Overall same reaction – fun adventure and I would do it again – BUT maybe a shorter one to avoid all the soreness. Mine was Saturday and my lower legs are still sore. I loved how laid back everyone was and how time didn’t matter.

  20. 20
    Amber says:

    What an AWESOME race – I’m so glad you loved it! If I was still living in San Diego it would certainly be on my list for next year :)
    I much prefer uphills to downhills. I’m just a bad downhill runner – I take tiny, slow steps, and hold my arms up really high. It’s not pretty. Luckily uphills are also my strong suit.

  21. 21
    Jennifer mykytiuk says:

    Way to go! You are awesome! I am too clumsy to do trail running. The one trail half I did was a dirt devil race in April, I think. I did. to enjoy it and decided to stick to road races!

  22. 22
    Sam says:

    Oh my golly that STAIRCASE! Great photos, and great recap! “Expect 3 hours?” My Aunt Fannie! You must have some Tarahumara spirit in you. That whole experience looks amazing (and amazingly tough).

    I’ve always love hiking around on trails, but it never really dawned on me that you can run on them too…This post was totally inspirational!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] didn’t run yesterday. My whole body hurt from the race Sunday. It still does actually so I’m not running today [...]

  2. [...] from the Stairway to Heaven race on Sunday are in. I got 6th place overall female out of [...]

  3. [...] Instagram feed, and seeing the awesome blogger stuftmama totally conquer a crazy race called “Stairway to Heaven“). This little event is definitely the kiddy-pool version of true trail- and ultra-running, [...]

  4. [...] feel like we made it though the rough part. This is part of the reason my past three races (Raptor Ridge Half, American’s Finest City Half and the Kauai Marathon) went down like they did. I had a lot going [...]

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