Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm Baaaack! A Way Too Cool Race Report

Ok, I can admit it now. I was worried about being able to finish this race. Just five weeks prior I experienced my first DNF. I injured myself and wasn't able to run for 11 days after that. I was only able to log one 20 mile trail run about 10 days prior to the race. The cutoff time was 8:30 and my previous best for a trail 50K was 8:40 (that race did have a mile or so of bonus mileage).

I'll save you all the suspense and let you know I finished in 7:49:32. Here's a picture of me right before devouring my finishers award of the much sought after frog cupcake.

The weather Saturday was perfect. Temperature was in the 40's at the start, about 60 at the finish, with partly cloudy skies. The pre-race atmosphere was almost like a party and at 8 AM we were on our way. The first 1.5 miles are on road so there was plenty of room for everyone to space themselves out before hitting the trails. Just before we turned off the road, a dude in a gorilla suit was "terrorizing" the runners. Supposedly there was a guy in a banana suit somewhere on the course, but I never did see him.

Less than a mile into the trail running was the first stream crossing. Most of the runners slowed down to cross on the rocks to keep their feet dry, but some just splashed across the calf high stream. I attempted to do what most were doing and tried to cross on the rocks, but one wobbled as I stepped on it. Rather than trying to catch myself, I just accepted the inevitable and gracelessly sat down. So, less than two miles into the race I was soaked from my waist down. It was then I decided that I would just splash through any remaining stream crossings.

The single track trail was beautiful and mostly dry, but there were numerous muddy sections. These were only from 10 to 50 yards long, but they ranged from shoe-sucking-off mud to slick-as-snot mud. There were also lots of stream crossings, so after muddying up your shoes you could clean them off splashing through the stream.

This course is a figure-eight course, the first loop was an eight mile loop with no aid stations until you got back to the start/finish. The second loop was 23 miles, but with several aid stations. The longest distance between aid on this section was six miles, but to me, that section seemed the longest. It was from mile 15 to 21 and seemed to take forever. The next section included the climb up Goat Hill. I had heard horror stories about Goat Hill and thought I was prepared. If you look at the course profile view in my last post you can see a "little hill" right at the 26 mile point. Doesn't look like much, but notice that the line is nearly vertical? Well, even though it wasn't very long, it was about the steepest climb I've ever done without having handrails. I am proud of myself in that I managed to pass four people on the climb. (Of course my downhill running still sucks and they all managed to pass me on the following miles.) There was a most welcome aid station at the top of the hill and then there were only five miles to go.

I have to give a shout out to DryMax socks. There were several dozen stream crossings on this course with at least half a dozen being ankle to knee deep. I didn't get a single blister wearing these magical, moisture-sucking socks. (Maybe DryMax will send me some free socks now?)

At the finish line there was a crowd of people hanging around after their race, eating pizza, soup, and cupcakes and cheering on those finishing after them. The post-race food was wonderful, all supplied by local eating establishments. I didn't try the soup, but the pizza was fresh-out-of-the-oven good, even as late as I finished. And a frog cupcake as a finishers award is way better than any medal!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm On My Way Too Cool!

I did my 20 miler today and am happy with the results so I've reserved the motel and rental car. My pace was actually a bit faster than it was on my 10 miler last week and about 30 seconds/mile faster than the pace I'll need to maintain at the WTC 50k. I'm not kidding myself, this will be a difficult race because although my leg is back to about 98.5%, my conditioning is at about 85-90%. The first half of the course is easier than the trail I ran today, but the second half is much more difficult.

So my plan will be to bank some time during the first half and then try to hang on to meet the cutoffs. Final cutoff is 8.5 hours which is a 16:27 pace. I ran a 16:00 pace today for 20 miles so a finish here will definitely be a challenge, but I really really really want that frog cupcake that finishers get!