Our last Saturday in Taos was an eventful one! My brother and I had plans to run the Up and Over 10k in Taos Ski Valley, and we all had tickets to see Alabama Shakes that same evening. Although leaving Taos is always bittersweet, it was a perfect way to end our summer stay! Click here for a video that shows highlights from this years race (spot my brother, Robert, at the 27 second mark!)…
When I was in Taos last summer, I wanted to train for the this race. But, not really being a runner, I was intimidated by it. I’d never run a trail race before and I wasn’t sure what to expect! After seeing the post-race photos, I regretted not trying. It just looked so beautiful…difficult, but stunning views all around. It became a new challenge I couldn’t get out of my mind. So, my brother and I decided we would go for it this year.
To be honest, I’m not a very competitive person. My goal was to enjoy the run, finish, and not worry too much about my time. Competing with others doesn’t really motivate me as much as the competitive drive within myself, to improve and do better. Probably the reason I never excelled at competitive sports growing up, ha!
During the weeks prior, I maintained my strength/cardio training regimen and went hiking as often as I could. I was thankful I did those hikes because a large portion of the race was steep uphill climbing. The race was in Taos Ski Valley, starting and ending at the base of Kachina Peak, near The Bavarian, at an elevation of 9,200 feet. It included a slight downhill portion before a climb of 2,612 feet to the top and finished with a descent back down to the starting point.
It rained heavily the night before the race, so race day was very cool and semi-cloudy. When the sun came out, it felt wonderful! I wasn’t sure what to wear but I ended up going with what I knew from experience would be comfortable! I chose my favorite lululemon running tights, a lightweight, fitted Sweaty Betty tank, Nike Free running sneakers, and a running belt. I had a pair of New Balance trail runners, but hadn’t actually run in them. I hiked in them and wasn’t 100% sure they’d feel as good as my Frees for running. While the Frees were fine for the running portion, next time I’m going to try trail runners for extra grip (rookie mistake)! My brother suggested a running belt, and I was thankful he did! I’ve never liked running with a bulky armband to hold my phone/keys, so this was a much better option in terms of utility and comfort (once I got over the fanny pack look of it!).
Starting the race, I kept a moderate pace, not really knowing what was ahead. At about 2k, it got very steep. So steep that I had to slow to a hike. And, it stayed that way for quite a while! There were times that I sped up to a run, but it was definitely a steady climb that lasted for the next several kilometers. I decided to keep a steady pace and try not to stop, climbing until I reached the highest point of the course. This is where all the hikes and stair climb training came in handy!
I was so relieved when I reached the top! I took in the magnificent views, and then started downhill. Again, the terrain was super steep and rocky! While the uphill part was incredibly challenging, I enjoyed it much more than going downhill. I think its because when climbing, I feel a greater amount of control, in terms of where my feet and body are going.
Running and hiking downhill on uneven terrain feels tricky for me…and I’ll admit I’m a total chicken! I saw several runners slide and fall and didn’t want to risk getting injured. I was pretty frustrated that I had to slow down more than I wanted to on the way down. I saw many runners I’d passed on the way up, pass me on the way down! For next year’s race, I’ll need more downhill trail running practice to feel comfortable…
Overall I had a wonderful experience and would absolutely do it again! I know what to expect now and how I can train to handle the course better next time. I’m so glad we followed through with our plans to run this race! It was an experience I will never forget. I would love to get more friends/family on board to do it with us next year! From start to finish, the views were breathtaking. I felt fortunate to be in nature, surrounded by such beauty! Check out the cool handmade finisher medals we got below…
Thanks for stopping by to read my race recap! xo
Photos by Jim Cox where noted, the rest were taken by me using my iPhone