That's right, it's practically March and Martin is still running… What can I say, it's the new me. One thing for sure, all this mediocre running will absolutely ensure that my cycling is also mediocre. Yes!
The flyer said show up early if you want to get a parking spot near the start/finish so I did just that. Turns out 'early' means something entirely different to a runner than it does to a cyclist. Bike racers need to setup trainers, tweak equipment, put on tons of complicated clothing, pin two numbers (or have someone help you if it's a TT), pump up tires, stand in line at the bathrooms, fuss with nutrition, adjust all the equipment again, put the trainer back in the car, make a final wardrobe adjustment and then show up to the start line about 15 minutes before the gun. Runners pull up, take off their sweats, pin on one number and go. Needless to say, I got there with PLENTY of time to spare and was probably the 20th car in the main parking lot. Lesson learned.
Driving to the race the weather looked fine and the forecast said the precipitation would hold off until about 1:00 PM so I sauntered over to the start with no wind vest or jacket as it was not windy and nothing was coming down from the sky. With 10 minutes to go the promoter calls the pre-race meeting and the sky instantly opens up. At first I was thinking, "Jesus, f'ing Christ, here we go with the hypothermic suffer fest…" but then I realized it was cold enough that all the precip was solid. Nice! All that was coming down was tiny bits of pellet snow. Then we were told that there was a river (the promoter did NOT say creek) crossing just 100' down the trail and there was simply no way to avoid it. Having soaking wet feet right from the gun is not fun so I took the last couple of minutes before the start to try and steel myself for the icy plunge.
Nice! The 'river' was not so bad - thankfully - and being near the front I managed to just jump across at the narrowest spot and not get soaked. Whew.
After about .3 miles of incredibly greasy flat dirt road it starts to tip up. I was still running but around .8 miles in you take a left and NO ONE was running. Holy cliff hanger Batman, the trail went straight up this grassy hill and if someone was 20' in front of you were staring at their heels. No shit. What was at the top of this precipice? The first photographer of course. :)
Right from the start I had resolved to TAKE IT EASY. I always go out too hard and fade and my goal today was to try and find a pace that I could theoretically sustain for more than 20 miles; like hypothetically 31 miles. Needless to say, in those first .8 miles about 20 people ran away from me but incredibly I reeled three or so in on the hike.
But I was not feeling so hot. I was breathing way too hard and did not feel fresh and was struggling to move efficiently. Oh well, another good thing to learn is how to run through bad patches. It is not fun but you need to do it.
At the highest points on the course it was snowing very lightly and it was beautiful. There was a dusting on the ground and the flakes kinda ticked your face. The stuff on the ground absolutely helped with traction but it did not last. As the race progressed it warmed up some but the precipitation also stopped so we never got rained on.
After an equally greasy descent (I was already wondering how the hell we were going to stay upright the second time through…) we finally got off the road and onto some fun trail. This took us over several bridges and to the first aid station at which point I had pretty much lost contact with everyone up front except for these two guys. Once of them seemed about my age and the other quite a bit younger. I had to stop for a leak so they both got a gap but after shoving a gel and four Shot Bloks in my face and trying to wash them down with some Nuun I was off. And half way down the first big sustained descent I caught them both!
It was already obvious that both of these guys were going up better than I was so I decided not to worry about them/race them and just do my own thing. My own thing meant they passed me back on the last climb and I caught them and dropped one of them on the last descent. Which is steep by the way! You drop from the upper parking lot to the lower parking lot and it's .25 miles of look-out-because-ready-or-not-here-I-come.
At the start/finish I ate another gel and another four Shot Bloks and washed that down with more Nuun. I managed not to fall into the creek and not hit the deck in the greasy mud and then it was straight up again.
I was suddenly feeling better! Not faster, but more consistent. between mile 10 and 15 I transitioned from walking to running very quickly after each hike section and kept it nice and steady all the way to the aid station. I was feeling good! So good I had dropped the other guy on the climbs… Was I going too hard? I had no idea. But since it was working for me so far, I had another gel and four more Shot Bloks and lots of Nuun (my bottle was almost empty).
As I was squeezing gel into my mouth the older guy that I had passed pulled up and essentially turned right around and took off. Damn. I threw my gel wrapper in the trash, grabbed one last cup of Nuun to try and help rinse the bits of Shot Blok that were glued to every tooth in my mouth and started running. Trying to breath with a mouthful of food is not so easy, just sayin'.
And guess what, pretty much right away I could tell I was not going to be able to hang with this guy. :( About .5 miles after this aid station you turn off the doubletrack and onto the most technical singletrack on the course. At this point I was still right behind him and he actually stepped aside and waved me through saying I was probably going to be faster than him here so I obliged him but inside I was thinking today is not my day. Sure enough, as I exited the singletrack onto more greasy dirt road - where I had to walk to catch my breath - he was right behind me. And he did not have to walk. See ya.
ASIDE - I think this run was the wettest and most slippery run that I have ever done. You spend quite a bit of time on dirt road that is covered in super slimy mud and you literally skate/surf across the surface at times. There is nothing to do but expect it and never totally commit to either foot. Not to mention we were running down trails that were essentially creeks numerous times. Two words: mud bog.
There is a section of this run that takes you over grassy rollers. The first time up it was slippery. Coming back on this same section of trail toward the end of lap one it was treacherous. Starting lap three I was running about five feet to the right of the 'trail' just so I wouldn't constantly be on my ass. Let's just say I saw lots of people walking these descents. One person had trekking poles that I made fun of earlier and of course now I could see the logic.
As I continued to run out of gas that guy in front of me kept putting time into me but interestingly I also kept putting time into the kid that I had dropped earlier who had been faster than me on the climbs. I just tried to keep it somewhat steady and although I walked more this time round than the first lap I didn't totally blow up. Small consolation that.
Somehow I had managed to avoid stepping directly into a puddle/stream/mud hole this long. With about two miles to go that ended as I put my left foot into what I thought was going to be a shallow puddle and it completely covering my sock. Oh yeah. Maybe 200 m later I planted my right foot on a root and it slid off into a a pit of mud. I didn't fall down - luckily - but my speed took a sudden dive and I heard a resounding squelch as I extracted my foot from the mess. Then it was game on and I was looking for water to run through so I could rinse the mud off.
As I finally exited the forest and was approaching the last descent someone shouted my name. I was so surprised anyone could recognize me with a hat on I had to turn around and see who it was. And almost bit the dust in the process. I forget her name but it was an adventX instructor from my outdoor exercise class days. Very nice to get a shout out.
I caught two women who were finishing their 10-mile race on the descent and suddenly they accelerated! That's right, I beat them to the bottom. I am a man after all. I am also an idiot.
At the finish they had recovery pizza! Holy cow did that hit the spot. To the tune of three slices. I also saw Martin de V at the finish who had smoked the 10-mile course. Way to go. Then I got a free tune-up from a Chiropractic clinic that was donating their time (thanks!) and I got some congratulations from Roger. To top it off I was not injured or all that sore. Come to think of it, I had something left in the tank for sure but just did not have the fortitude to use it all. On the other hand I mostly had fun so that's a big plus.
The only bummer was that my favorite shorts have for some bizarre reason started to chafe my inner thighs. I thought I had let my legs recover enough but not so. Today sure flared that up and it looks I will need to switch shorts until I can figure out why this happened in the first place as they used to be super comfy. Rats.
Here are all the pictures.
|Breakfast||5:30 AM - 2 bananas, applesauce, protein powder, walnuts|
6:00 AM - large bottle w/2 scoops Perpetuem
|Workout Food||bottle w/1 tablet Nuun and 1 scoop HEED, 3 gels, 12 Shot Bloks, more Nuun|
|Time of Day||8:30 AM|
|Weather||mid 30s - 40|
Men - 8th
Overall - 17th [The women positively scorched this event!]
|Equipment||Hoka Combo XT, hand-held bottle|
|Clothing||shorts, Craft short sleeve undershirt, SmartWool long sleeve shirt, Patagonia gloves, SmartWool hat|