Sunday, July 16, 2017

Run with the Beavers 2017

I’ve been very behind on my blog lately as I haven’t really had a proper device to type on during vacation. There’s a plethora of blog posts I need to catch up on, but with this one so fresh in my mind I figured I’d get it out of the way.

Basically the entire pre-race experience was terrible. I guess things are a little different after your first full day back from a vacation that included around 20 hours on various planes. I started considering running the race on Wednesday and despite completely writing it off from last July (I wrote in my blog that I wouldn’t do it for years) I suddenly had the urge to do it, to get in another fun trail race while I can. My only concern was that I wanted to stick to my planned list of races and this may contribute to overracing. However, I had five good reasons to do it, and those outweighed my desire to keep the race count low.

  1. Fun trail race
  2. Forecast actually not looking hot
  3. Needed to get in a couple more miles to keep up with what I needed for the week
  4. Redeem myself from last year’s bad race
  5. Field was looking stacked

Even if I ran 80%, I could still probably feel fine and beat last year’s time. By Friday I was committed. Friday was a really crappy day. I slept 1 hour in the phoenix airport on thursday,  2 hours on the flight, 2 hours in the car, and then 10 after that at home. About combined 15 hours of sleep to make up for maybe 2 the previous night (very early morning flight). Friday night I couldn’t sleep at all, and got about 4 hours. Waking up Saturday was awful, I ate much later than usual and attempted to get more sleep on the way. I really wasn’t feeling it and at the time I had little interest in still racing.

We got there super late, did a rushed warm-up and headed to the bathroom. I really had to go and made it to the start about 1 minute before the 9:00 AM. Fortunately, we had a couple minutes beyond that but the whole thing was a little nerve-wracking. There was a point where I actually thought I’d miss the race.

I got a chance to scan the field pre-race. Patrick Caron had signed up but was a no show which means one place ahead for me. Ryan Woolley was there, actually representing WTAC again. He’d be far ahead of me. Brightman and Jonny plus a couple CMS guys were there too but I hoped to be ahead of them. One CMS guy I didn’t know was listed first in the rankings so I figured he would beat me too. Bronson Venable was also there as a last minute entry, which was a little surprising. I figured 4th was the best possible finish for me, but possibly a few spots worse. Time-wise I was just hoping to make a significant improvement from my slow 2016 time. I probably wanted to be under 1:10 but wasn’t sure what I was capable of. I wanted to not worry about pace or place but instead just run on feel, whatever effort felt right for the distance and terrain.

The Race

Where am I???

Really sandwiched in there.
Lap 1:
Since I was so rushed with getting to the start, I once again made the mistake of lining up too far back. Immediately I felt boxed in and was in 10th, behind people I shouldn’t be behind and a little worried I would go into the trail in a really bad position. It quickly sorted out and I got right where I need to be just by slipping by in a few spots. Bronson took it out and had a couple meters on everyone, while Brightman, Woolley and I were the next three. I was a little frustrated about being close and not having a lot of sight so I backed off Woolley to give me room. I felt smooth and the pace felt right but surprised my watch was showing low 6s. I was more surprised Woolley was right ahead of me rather than up with Bronson and I was starting to doubt his fitness. Before I had time to think about it, Woolley made a move past Brightman and was gone. Soon after I felt people on my heels and Brightman’s pace felt a little slow so I made a move as well. I opened a small gap, but found it a little difficult to find my footing on the rocky technical section. We went to a trail intersection and Bronson was now coming towards me which was a little strange, but after seeing markers going left I guess he went off course, going straight instead. I wasn’t too far behind Bronson for a half mile or so and it seemed he wasn’t opening the gap, slowing up on muddy and/or technical sections. Soon the gap opened and he was gone. At a switchback I could see that I had a huge gap on the guy behind me and I was in no man’s land. I could see either from long straightaways but most of the time I was alone. Coming up to the waterstop, I wanted water but the table wasn't super close, it didn’t look like anyone was handing out water and neither Woolley nor Bronson (I guess the gap opened after this) took any. I didn’t take any and figured I would get some at the 5-Mile mark.

Went through the bridge soon after, and I thought about last year versus this year. At this point in last year’s race, I was already feeling really weak while this year, I didn’t feel tired at all. I was feeling pretty good about my race at this point and was thinking sub-1:08 was a possibility. The hill after the bridge was a little tiring, but shortly after I turned back onto singletrack. This stuff felt pretty easy and relaxed but soon I noticed a CMS runner wasn’t too far behind and gaining on me. I went through a downhill that brought me along the side of the pond, but it felt much earlier than expected. Soon after, it got technical again and here it was also a little slippery. My pace slowed a little, but I was still happy that I was about 6:40 average. The CMS guy caught up quick and soon he was just a few meters back. The steep climb towards the end of the loop took a little out of me, and the CMS guy pulled right up next to me. Surprisingly, he didn’t pass but would just remain there for a half mile. The trails back to the start were fairly easy but I felt a little tired at this point and my legs were suddenly really heavy. I took some water before heading out on lap 2.

Running by CMS's Chris Mahoney (before he dropped me soon after) 

Lap 2:
The CMS guy passed shortly after we ascended the hill on the dirt road, and soon enough he was gone. I was thinking the time would be fast- I went through lap 1 about 6:40 pace and I was only at about 4.8 so I felt that was maybe 1:05 if I ran exactly the same on the second lap. However, my legs were feeling it, I wasn’t feeling particularly strong at the start of lap 2, and was sure my pace would be much slower. I wanted to just hold on and hopefully have average pace around 7:00 for lap 2, maybe run a time around 1:06-1:07. Turning into the singletrack made me feel a little better, but my legs were still heavy. Soon I hit the technical rock gardens again and it did not feel easy. I felt so much slower and more clumsy this time around and my average pace was dropping rapidly. I really wanted to just get past this section, but it seemed to drag on forever. It also sounded like there was someone behind me and gaining, but I didn’t see anyone when I looked going around a switchback. Soon I was past the technical rock gardens, but now once again had to go through a muddy section. I definitely was slow here and now I was running into the 5-Milers. The first one I passed remarked “A little warning would have nice” which made me a little upset. I could care less that they didn’t move as I had plenty of room to go around regardless but at 7 miles into a 10-mile trail race, I didn’t save much energy for “warnings”. I got past another hobbling guy who looked like he was in pain by taking whatever route around this muddy section I could find. Coming back to the waterstop was nice, and the water was refreshing.

I was feeling better at this point then I had started the lap, but was still worried about my pace. I figured it would be easy to keep average pace sub-7 with a first lap at about 6:40, but my pace just kept dropping. I was a little worried and started to expect 1:08-1:09. Even on the easier section past the hill, my pace was still dropping. For some reason, I started to think my watch would measure this out to a full 10 miles even though I only got 4.8 on lap one, so I was thinking I would go just under 1:10. Going towards the pond again was a little more unpleasant this time around, knowing I still had a little bit to go, including a technical section and the steep hill. I felt like I was running very poorly this second lap and these last two miles would be terrible. There were 5-milers everywhere now. Most of them would get out of the way or I’d find a path to easily scramble past, but I found it annoying when groups of them would be ahead of me and I would really have to weave to get around them as quick as possible. I felt really slow on the rocky section there and inched closer and closer to about 7:00. I was once again trying to figure out total time, which I thought would be around 1:08 but really wanted slightly faster. The steep hill was very tiring at this time around but I had so little left that I was able to keep myself going and visualizing the finish line. At times, it occurred to me that it was time to kick and I was still running pretty slow but as usual in races, I was too tired at that point to make a big move and instead just tried not to slow more. I kept thinking the finish was at 10 miles on my watch, forgetting that it would be closer to 9.6, so it came much quicker than I expected. I picked it up on the last portion before heading down to the finish. I was surprised to see 1:05 on the clock and I got there quick enough to break 1:06.

Happy to finish up.

1:05:48, 4th overall. Just as I thought my race had completely fallen apart (or at least my second lap had), I somehow still ran a very fast time. I was definitely pleased with this and even though the entire time I was running lap 2 I felt super slow I still managed to run a fast time. Took just under 7 minutes off from last year, though I guess last year’s course was longer/slower (but I still would taken off 4-5 minutes). Based on time/improvement I felt that I did great but based on feel/lack of consistency I felt that my race wasn’t as great. I guess that time is more important, but a little disappointed Lap 2 was maybe 3-4 minutes slower than Lap 1 (not sure on this but don’t know how to check). Very happy I did this. I felt so much better than last year and had so much more fun. May be my best performance of the summer so far (I guess loon was the only other good one, but I feel like I just improved and beat my expectations so much more here).

Not racing again until August. Have really enjoyed trail racing this summer.

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