Tips for the Trail - Nozomi Knows XTERRA Oak Mountain
On April 16th, XTERRA Trail Run Age Group World Champ, Nozomi Wade was one of the thousands of runners braving the worst Boston Marathon weather in 30 years. But unlike many other runners who had to drop out because of hypothermia or spend their post-race hours in a medical tent, the only tears Wade shed were tears of happiness because her son showed up to surprise her at the race.
Although pouring rain and wind lashed runners for almost the entire 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon, Wade ran at a steady effort and recovered relatively well after she was able to warm up. By Wednesday morning, Wade, 60, was back in her classroom, where she teaches second grade.
“I think the reason I was able to get through those conditions was because of XTERRA trail running,” said Wade from her home in Atlanta. “You never know what you’re going to get on the trails. You get hills and heat and cold and snakes. In Boston, I saw a banner that said, ‘Congratulations, you’re done with Heartbreak Hill,’ and I thought, ‘This is Heartbreak Hill?’ I didn’t think it was bad at all compared to the XTERRA World Championship course at Kualoa Ranch.”
Interestingly enough, Wade used the same strategy in the Boston Marathon that three-time XTERRA Trail Run World Champ Joe Gray did. Five miles in, the elite runner realized he was putting out too much energy to maintain his pace in the 30 mile per hour wind. His choices were to drop out, race hard and risk injury, or slow down and finish with a steady effort, which was his final choice.
Like Gray, Wade is a fixture at XTERRA trail runs and has run XTERRA Oak Mountain since 2012. She trains for the 20K trail run by running in the XTERRA Georgia Trail Series. Below, she shares her tips for the course at XTERRA Oak Mountain, which she says is her favorite trail race in the XTERRA series because of the flowy trails and beautiful location.
“It’s a great course whether you are experienced or a beginner. If you’ve never done a trail run, then XTERRA Oak Mountain is a great place to start. Just show up and go for it!”
Pay Attention to the First Lap – “The benefit of a two-lap course is that even if you have never run it before, the second lap is going to be familiar.” Wade recommends that you keep your eyes open for features on the first lap and pay attention to spots to both accelerate and relax your pace. “There are no extremes on the course,” said Wade, “But there are definitely rocks and roots to watch out for.”
Plan for Heat – While much of the XTERRA Oak Mountain course is in the woods and shaded, don’t expect cool weather in Alabama in late May. Wade says that it’s critical to stay hydrated in the days before the race and to carefully plan out nutrition and water. Wade wears a fuel belt, which she stocks with electrolyte water and gels.
“I take gels every four miles based on how long I’m going to be out on the course. If you are faster, you won’t need as many but it’s good to be safe and make sure you have enough energy for that kick at the end.”
Find Your Spot at the Start – If you plan to just cruise through the course and enjoy the ride, then the back of the pack is a great place to be at the starting line. If you plan on being competitive, then start closer to the front. “The race starts out on the road before narrowing to single track, so that first mile is key to getting your position,” said Wade.
Stick Around for the Awards – “The great thing about being at XTERRA Oak Mountain is that it’s a whole weekend experience. You have the XTERRA crew from Hawaii, Kalei is such a wonderful announcer, and the weekend turns into a party for anyone who loves the healthy lifestyle.” One of Wade’s favorite events is the informal potluck picnic after the XTERRA Oak Mountain Off-Road Triathlon on Saturday hosted by Owen and Sunny Workman. “And you have to stay for the awards ceremony after the trail run on Sunday. You’ll feel like you are among family.”
For more information and to register for XTERRA Oak Mountain, visit http://www.xterraplanet.com.