Xterra 15K Race Report

Altra Superior 3.0 First Run

My last race was a super hilly trail marathon on Catalina Island in November of last year. I took time off after that race to let my body rest and recharge. The rest felt great as they always do. As I eased back into my “training” I looked for events to do. My goal is to do an event a month this year. Because I missed January I will do two events in a month sometime soon.

Years ago in San Diego there was a grass roots event series with the best event landing on Super Bowl Sunday. The series was Your Worst Nightmare and the event on Super Bowl Sunday was Your Worst Nightmare 10K. There was no entry fee, most got a t-shirt and it was a pot luck post event party with the best food you’ll find at any race.

The Xterra 15K is in the same area as the Nightmare 10K. I knew this was the race I wanted to start the year off with like I did in the past. The Nightmare 10K wasn’t really 10K. This was before GPS so we simply had to go with the course direction. 70 minutes was about what it took the fastest runners. Maybe faster but not the 32 minutes they would run on a certified 10K road race. It was assumed the 15K was a 15K. My GPS measure this race slightly long but that may be because the watch hasn’t been updated recently. The picture below does not show how difficult this race is. It’s technically challenging, with steep rocking downhills and one section of stairs that goes up for a long way. Garmin says the total elevation gain was 1,916 ft and loss was 2,054 ft. Minimum elevation was 207ft and maximum was 1,027ft.

This year we were 10 days or so from the last rain. There was lots of water on the course but unlike the 10K we stayed on designated trails. The 15K started on time and like any race there were athletes that started, too fast, and athletes who worked into the race. My goal was to work into the race. The first mile felt easy and comfortable. There were a couple small hills to cover but nothing technical. The second mile was a bit steeper but again nothing technical. The last 3/4 of the 3rd mile were on the Widowmaker. This hill was steep and went straight up with no switch backs. I’m the worst walker so I put it in low gear and ran up the hill. Most were walking. At the top I caught my running buddy and my mind flashed “either he’s having a tough time or I am actually doing really well”. I stayed with him for the next 1/2 mile  down some difficult rocky single track. By the next uphill he had put a gap on me which I decided not to close. The first few sections of steep rocky down hills went ok buy they really started to wear on my legs. At mile 4.5 we started to go up and by the 5.5 mile mark were on top of the highest point of the race. Most of that was walking because it was too steep to run. As I told you I’m a slow walker and was getting past often going up.

From the top of that hill we made our way down. Down that darn Widowmaker. Straight down and my legs were not having any of it. They were toast and each step felt worse then the previous one. At the bottom we were at roughly  7 miles and had the rolling miles to get to the finish. I was running but there wasn’t much snap in my legs. I crossed the line satisfied of the hard effort and completely drained.


Time: 1:31:51

Place: 58 out of 356. 5th in my age group.

My Running buddy was 33rd and 6.5 minutes in front of me. From 3 miles to the finish he put that much time on me. I guess I was wrong at the top of the hill. He was doing just fine and although I was feeling good, it didn’t last.


Five things I learned from the event:

  1. I know I’m 10 lbs heavy right now and that’s not helping my running.
  2. Recovery is harder when the hills are so steep.
  3. I went in slightly under hydrated and I believe that cost me.
  4. My base is solid so it’s time to put in some hill repeats.
  5. Steep down hills can be learned and I really need to learn them.


I’ve started selling things on Ebay. djrunning8 is my ID. If you see anything interesting I’ll give you a better deal if you mention Shoe Ranger.