23 August 2014

Cutthroat Classic

Finally! Lucca has been raving about (and running) the Cutthroat Classic for years telling me how scenic and fun it is and I finally got to do it.

ASIDE - for the ultra crowd, it's always on the same weekend as the Cascade Crest 100 so you can go long or you can do this. :)

It was a perfect day and I had a a great race.

The start is pretty early so Shelley and I drove to Winthrop and stayed with my sister the night before. And need I say it...? THANKS SHELLEY FOR ACCOMPANYING ME ON YET ANOTHER EVENT WEEKEND!

The morning of the race they bus you out to the start and then you run from Hwy 20 where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses it up and over Cutthroat Pass and down to the Cutthroat trailhead at Cutthroat Creek. Five miles of up followed by six miles of down. It's fast!

I had been told by numerous people that everyone wipes out on the descent. Because of its length, this event attracts lots of runners with much less trail running experience than most other trail runs and I bet the fact that folks are flying down a trail when they are tired contributes to the accidents as well.

They start you in waves five minutes apart. I think you can self-seed in the waves (I chose the 2nd wave and Lucca chose the 3rd), the purpose is to prevent congestion on the singletrack. This is great except if you are racing, you might not see all your competition...

I started with Luke Astell, a good friend of Lucca's. He's about my height and weight and also rides and runs and it was awesome to have company. We hung together for most of the climb and then perhaps one mile from the top I started to ease ahead. The climb was not as bad as I expected, perhaps I was saving myself too much? No regrets, I did not want to hit the descent in full-on oxygen debt.

The summit is a ridge/spine and you run across maybe 30' of flat trail and then drop down the other side. Up here were a couple of photographers and spectators and race crew to make sure you went down the Cutthroat Trail and didn't head north on the PCT. From what I recall, this is the only intersection on the entire run. I managed to scoot past two more people just before I hit the descent.

The descent really is fast. Not because it's super steep, rather because it is a moderate slope and you can freaking haul ass. There are a lot of rocks and roots and little steps/drop-offs so the footing is 'dynamic' and I had my eyes glued to the ground in front of me. Your speed is determined by how much you want to apply the brakes and how confident you are in your footing.

I like descending and on a good day I'm above average so I went for it. In short order/the first mile I had hauled in two or three runners and I kept right on going.

The one and only aid station is at mile six so one mile down the descent in a clearing on level ground. I had a hand-held bottle so did not need to stop but when I blew by here I was thinking, "Shit... that's just one mile of descending"? I had been going pretty hard and eased off the throttle just a tad after that.

But I still kept passing people - what a blast! And after a bit I started passing people that had taken a digger. Even at the front of the race there were several, some were jogging, some were just walking. I saw blood on knees, shins, elbows, etc. Ouch.

Early on in the descent there was one guy up ahead. I said something like, "Can I get by on your left?" He didn't move. So then I said, "Can I pass on this next switchback?" and still he didn't do or say anything. He was one of those guys that runs with his elbows way out to his sides so he was taking up lots of space. And he was breathing like crazy! I ended up just forcing myself past him on the next switchback and as I left him I yelled, "Thanks!" People...

With two miles to go the trail flattens out quite a bit. It's still a descent but just barely and you need to push if you want to go fast. Flat running is my weakness but I tried not to slow down too much and to pace myself so I wouldn't blow before the finish. I think I only passed one person on this section and I did lose focus a bit but no regrets, I wanted to have fun.

The finish kind of sneaks up on you if you don't know the trail. I did start to hear voices so figured I should speed up and then suddenly you are at the bridge over Cutthroat Creek and there is the finish.

I had a great run! And I didn't fall down! Shelley has been (justifiably!) worried about me lately as I keep injuring myself. Ironically, I got a nosebleed with about 1.5 miles to go. Picture me running along, trying to go fast and also trying to wipe my face off every few seconds. When I crossed the line I had blood all over my face and hands so of course Shelley thought I had fallen down face first but luckily I was fine. By the time I rinsed off my face the bleeding had stopped and I was presentable again.

Lucca and Luke both had great runs and they didn't fall down either. :)

What's more, my friend David Longdon showed up as well for his longest run to date!

Good times for sure. I would love to do this again and hopefully go a bit faster on the climb. After I finished I figured I had done pretty well in my age division but it turns out some guy in the 1st wave beat me by 30 seconds. Who knows what would have happened if we had been running together but it's fun to think about. Regardless, I'm stoked with my time/placing especially since this is just my second race this year!

I wasn't sure what shoes to wear today...? I wanted light and it was a short run but I was also worried about the descent. In hindsight I picked the perfect pair. At the finish I felt super with no body issues at all.

Here are all the pictures and video.

Sleep 4
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 5:00 AM - bread, almond butter, water, banana
Workout Food 30 min before start - shot of Hammer Gel
race - bottle w/2 scoops HEED
Time of Day 8:00 AM
Workout Type race
Weather maybe upper 40s at the start (it felt chilly), 70 at the finish, dry, calm, sunny
Course The first two miles are a very gradual climb and some of it is even flat, the last three miles of the climb keep getting steeper but it's all runnable. The first four miles of the descent are FAST and the last two flatten out significantly so you need to push again.
Results 2nd - 50-59
19th - Overall
official results
Time 1:31:07
Distance 11.1 miles
Pace 8:13
Equipment Brooks PureGrit 2, Garmin Fenix 2, Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus
Clothing Injinji Run Original Weight Mini-Crew, Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short, Brooks singlet, Headsweats Visor

09 August 2014

Cougar Mt Marathon

The Cougar Mountain Marathon. My. First. Race. This. Year.

And it went well! And I have zero pictures. :(

I learned a lot.

2014 has been a year of healing and waiting and healing and waiting some more. After logging a few 15-20 mile days on the trails I figured I was good to enter my first race. And why not make it my longest run of the year? Exactly, no reason.

I went into this race treating it like a training run. And guess who should show up with the very same agenda, Bill Huggins. Nice, it was great to chat at the start.

The gun goes off and I hang back. Or maybe it was just that I jogged out and everyone else ran, either way I was instantly at the back of the pack. But so was Bill! We kept up our banter around the grassy field and onto the trail.

My goal was to start mellow and hopefully maintain. If by some miracle I felt good at the end I would try and speed up but I did NOT want to die/slow down.

Long story short, I ran very conservatively. After perhaps four or five miles Bill started to pull away just a bit and I had to let him go. I stopped at every aid station for a gel, to top off my bottle and to grab some treats. I guess I was passing some folks but I was not paying any attention.

Until we headed down to 900. As I was descending to the aid station I noticed that there were only four people in front of me... was it too early to race? The answer was yes, it was way too early. But I did remember what colors each of the people in front of me were wearing.

From the midpoint of the descent to 900 on I was alone for quite some time. Somewhere around the top of the climb I sneaked past one of the guys that was in front of me and I figured that was that. If I could just maintain I was going to get 4th and that was super cool by me.

As I got to the last aid station I did the usual top off and snack break and as I headed out one of the volunteers yelled after me, "3rd place is just ahead of you!" I thought whatever, I can't go any faster so what does it matter, and off I ran. Just two miles later, there was 3rd place.

I caught him on a descent and figured it was best to just go right on by. I did push just a little here so that my pass was authoritative and not tentative... I think it worked.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't look over my shoulder once or twice for the last few miles but in hindsight I needn't have worried. I got lucky with my pacing and this guy looked pretty cooked. I did have to walk a couple of inclines (damn it!) but just a couple. And I never blew up.

As usual the finish kind of sneaks up on you but I did manage a tiny acceleration at the end and was totally psyched with my run. And it turns out Bill won! How cool is that. Nothing like going out for a training run and having a good time. The good result was a giant bonus.

Sleep 5
Waking HR 5:00 AM - 45
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Workout Food bottle w/2 scoops Perpetuem, 3 gels, fruit, pretzels, PowerBar Energy Blasts
Time of Day 8:30 AM
Workout Type race
Weather mid 60s, sunny, dry, calm
Results 1st - 50+
3rd - Overall
official results
Equipment Brooks PureGrit 2, Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus, Garmin Fenix 2
Clothing Injinji Run Original Weight Mini-Crew, Brooks 5" Essential Run Short, Brooks short sleeve EZ T III

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