Rocacorba Trail hit me like lightning.
I made my mind up and changed it about signing up to run 20 times before the day of the race so I didn’t really have time to process it.
There was a constant fight between the ganas de correr and more rational counterarguments.
So I did feel like running, I had some friends going to the race, I had heard about how fun Rocacorba
is and it did sound interesting, but on the other hand it was just two weeks away from Cinc Cims
and my body was still a little tired. And the memories of the effort were still fresh. Besides, the end of January is really not the moment to start competing like crazy.
So I was still undecided.
The day before the race I went shopping with a friend and probably spent around 6 hours walking through shops.
It was exhaaaausting and it reminded me why I only do this only once a year, maximum. I ate bad, didn’t drink almost anything all day, didn’t rest and definitely didn’t focus on the race.
But in the evening I decided to do it. What the hell!, after all they still had a bib available for that 31K race with +1800 elevation and I could go slowly, take it as a training – bla bla you know all those made up reasons we tell ourselves before we do something crazy.
So here I was on Sunday morning, waking up at 4am to leave Barcelona. Although my race started at 10am, I got a ride from a group of runners who were doing the marathon and their race started at 8am, so let’s say that this time I had time to do the warm-up 20 times. This is to make up for all those races when instead of warming up I was queuing for the toilet.
I met some friends at the start in the little village of Cant d’Adri and saw them leaving for the trails: first the marathon race at 8 am, then the half marathon at 9 am and at 10 am it was our turn, the 31k runners’.
Even from before the start I could notice some groups of runners all dressed nicely in their club T-shirts and sponsors’ shoes. A sight that could be a bit intimidating, but it wasn’t. These things don’t impress me as much as they used to when I started running. I just took note to watch out for them.
I had no idea how good they were, all I knew was that the girls who had won this race the previous years were there so I assumed those were them.
I don’t know if it was from not eating well, not resting well, too much coffee or a combination of all these, but my stomach killed me in the first 10k.
I usually start relatively slow and I noticed the group had split into two big chunks, with me being at the end of the faster one.
My heart rate goes bananas especially when the races start with a climb and I think that this also contributed to my stomach feeling like I had an alien inside.
Anyway, the route was beautiful. I’d missed running through the woods with a thick layer of leaves under my shoes. And man, running in a skirt in January! Spanish winters are made for outdoors.
I was feeling actually a bit too hot and unaccustomed to wearing the Salomon vest. I hadn’t worn it in such a long time that now it just felt unnatural. Everything started feeling a bit better after 10km, and I started finding my pace.
So did I enjoy it?
Well, if I were to judge about how I was feeling, at the beginning I didn’t enjoy it that much. Neither at the end. I think that I felt the best somewhere mid race 🙂 But guess what, you can enjoy a race even when something hurts, when you’re hungry, when it’s difficult and when you want it to be over.
Compared to Cinc Cims, the previous race I did, the atmosphere at Rocacorba Trail was much less intense. Less people on the route to cheer for us, and I could really tell the difference now: the people of Corbera really had that feeling of pride about the Cinc Cims race happening in their town.
But in Canet d’Adri, a small catalan village, it didn’t seem like there was anyone around except for the runners.
The race felt like it had a bit less soul than Cinc Cims, let’s say.
The few people I met on the route were telling me that I was the 4th girl, so I knew all along I was doing relatively well but I didn’t know if I could secure my position. So many things can happen until the finish line, so I was more focused on not breaking my neck every time I tripped. Which was very often.
I was lucky enough to meet my Romanian friend Daniela at km 18, on a horrible climb. She was doing the marathon race in a mixed team.
I was already tired, to be honest, and I could see a girl in one of those fancy club T-shirts chasing me.
I felt mentally weaker than in Cinc Cims and I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep my position. Daniela shouted at me from behind, in Romanian: “Go, Carmen!!! The 5th girl is coming after you!”
But I felt I couldn’t go much faster. That’s what my brain said. She passed me by, put some distance between us and then I started feeling like I couldn’t catch her anyway so I kept my own pace until I didn’t see her anymore.
In the end, I think it must have been 3 km away from the finish, I finally saw her and overpassed her. I must have gone faster on some descents or her batteries were just low.
But talking about low batteries.
Because I hadn’t thought through this race, I didn’t have a basic plan about what to eat and when, how to manage the water in my flasks and in the refreshment points and how long it would take me to get from one point to another.
The result was that in the last half of the race I was dehydrated, I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t even take my last gel because I couldn’t tear the packaging. I was pretty pissed off, thirsty, and very very hungry.
Plus, because of the rocks hidden under a layer of leaves, I kept tripping. I must have tripped about 20 times, and fell on my face twice, getting scratches and blood all over.
One time I got so scared that I decided to go a bit slower – finish later, but alive. That’s my new motto.
The cherry on top of this race is the final climb. It reminded me of the last climb of Cozia Mountain Run
, that maybe some of you know. With a killer inclination, it seemed a neverending agony in a moment when I just wanted it to be over already.
Imagine that by the time I overpassed the girl in front, it was already 2pm, sunny and hot, and I had all the symptoms of a glycemic crash. Fainting became a possibility.
Thank God that the last kilometers of the race are still through the forest where the air is fresh and as soon as you get out of it you have the finish line, because I can’t imagine what it would have felt like running through the sun.
Again, just like in Cinc Cims, the photographer at the finish line didn’t take a photo of me. I couldn’t find myself in the album. I can only imagine how bad I looked, if he didn’t take a shot of me :))
4th in women’s open and 3rd in my category
I saw some friendly faces at the finish, people having a good time and I found out that with my time of 4h 09min I was the 4th in women’s open and 3rd in my age category. Also, I was the 53rd overall out of 237 runners, which is cool enough for a Danube girl 🙂
However, in this race only the first three positions in open were awarded, so as I was the “first one of the losers”, I didn’t make the podium.
Anyway, I didn’t really care about a medal, I was just happy that I wasn’t injured (except for the scratches I got falling) and that I managed to put on a nice fight with the girls from the running clubs. I could tell the difference, though. The first three girls, winners of the previous editions, had a relatively big advance over me: the third girl finished 9 minutes ahead of me.
I spent the rest of the day in Girona with a group of amazing friends and runners, mixing tortilla with ice cream and waffers, like a champ.
Overall it was fun, a race with more elevation than I usually get around here and it showed me that I have a lot of work to do in climbing.
I’m glad I did it and I really enjoyed it. It was one of those races I had been thinking about, with a very interesting profile of the 31k race, but now I got it out of my system and probably I would only run it again if I were to do the team marathon, because that sounds really exciting.
So if you’re thinking about doing a race with a not very technical route, with some good elevation and relatively well organized, I can recommend it.
The only thing you should take note of is that the showers after the race are mixed. So consider yourself warned. Or maybe that’s one more reason to put it on your list.