By Jenna Hinkle

Dana Point Turkey Trot

I took a long and much needed break from running after four years of non-stop competing in college. After my two months off, I felt ready to recommit but I jumped back into training a little too quickly and found myself dealing with my first injury. While the injury was slight, it resulted in less than ideal training for the following couple of weeks.

Finally, a month out from PA's, my hamstring felt good enough for me to start intensifying my training. I had a solid three weeks of workouts heading into the Dana Point Turkey Trot but still felt a bit unsure of my fitness level. This was compounded by the fact that I had never run a 10k before. That being said, I was excited to hop into a race with no expectations and I was free to just focus on competing.

At the starting line I ran into Danielle Shanahan, a runner for HOKA’s NAZ elite club who I knew well from college competitions. She told me she was planning to go out in 5:25 pace so I decided to start with her and see how it felt. We went through the first mile in exactly that, which felt a bit uncomfortable to me for the beginning of the race. Therefore, I decided to back off her pace and run with the woman in third place. My next three miles were 5:31, 5:30, 5:33.

I was still working with the same woman going into the fifth mile when I felt our pace slow considerably. We crossed the five-mile mark and I checked my watch to see a 5:46. I decided it was time to make my move. I picked up the pace back to 5:25 to secure third place and finish with a total time of 34:37. Overall, I was happy with my performance, and Dana Point put on a great event.

PA Championships

The PA Champs race in Golden Gate Park was tough for me. My legs were feeling pretty tired from the Dana Point Turkey Trot and a lot of driving. In addition, I found the grass and mud in the park hard to navigate, and I quickly fell off the first two women (my teammate Liza and the eventual winner from the Strava club). From there I just tried to work with my teammate Natalie to finish as high as I could for the team. I ended up third and Natalie took fourth, helping the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies win the team competition.

I think hills are definitely something I need to work on in the future because even the small rollers felt challenging to me. Other than the actual race itself, I had a lot of fun at PA’s. It was really nice to meet everyone and feel like I was a part of a team again. I am excited to mentally be in a place where I feel motivated to be training and competing again.

Pacific Association XC Championships

Dana Point Turkey Trot