Beat the Bridge is an 8k race which is very popular around here. The gun goes off and you have a set amount of time to make it 2 miles to beat the bridge before it goes up. I set my 8k pr here a couple of years ago, it's an enjoyable course and work sponsors a large team.
Sure I'll do it. I don't think I'm in as good as shape as two years ago and this would give me a good idea of where I am right now and I signed up. Last summer I signed up for a trail running series. Do to injuries and life, I only had a planned DNF at one of the trail races and never even lined up for any of the other races out of four. I realized a couple weeks ago after signing up for the 8k that the first race of the trail series is the day before the road 8k.
What to do? Well I've been hanging out on the forums long enough to realize I can do both! You all are a bad influence!
I tweaked my back last weekend and it was settling down as usual when I had the weirdest tweak from it come around to the front of the hip and adductor. I seriously thought I had either appendicitis or an ab tear or a hernia for a day. After running just seemed to make it all feel better and an awesome massage, I knew it wasn't anything serious though.
I know I can't race both of these. The trail race is such that it was going to be better to try and keep that real easy and enjoy myself. The race director said at the start that it was only 5 mile race so they tried to make it as hilly as possible. Ok, it would be a good exercise in control for me to keep it real easy on trails. Trails which I know very well and love. Hmmm. Do you sense a problem there?
First Race Day:
It was fun not being nervous at all. I woke up after 9 hours of sleep (I was tired!) to a beautiful morning. Sunny and almost 50 degrees. The race director gave us all a lesson on trail racing etiquette and I'm happy to say everybody must've listened. For single track trails, I had no problems passing or being passed by anyone. Everyone was very polite. The first quarter mile went around a boggy, muddy, meadowy field and then onto an access road. It was nice to do this boggy bit to spread the runners out until we hit the single track trail. There was a bit of walking here as it was a bit crowded coming onto the trail. No biggy. I was enjoying myself and was amused to be part of a long line of runners trotting off into the forest.
I parked myself behind the crowd keeping it easy. When the guy ahead of me lost contact with a gal ahead of him, I passed. I knew that the big steep climb for a mile was coming. We made the turn to Lost Beagle Trail and people were already really huffing. I do a mix of walk/run when it gets really steep because I tend to be faster walking. Sure enough I passed some people and one guy even commented that I sure had a fast walk on me.
Then comes the fun downhill. The trail is a little muddy in places but not bad at all. I did have one guy slip and go down right in front of me. His eyes were so surprised to be on the ground. It happens so fast! I stopped as did the guy behind me to ask if he was alright. Got a nod and off I went. Sorry, I have so many scars on my knees at this point from trail falls that I guess I'm a bit blasé about it. No obvious gushing blood or broken bones and he responds to questions then he's fine!
Next big hill climb starts and I'm just trying to keep steady. People were getting tired here. They'd be running and then all of a sudden pull off to the side and stop. I just kept walking past and running when I felt like it. Final climb to the top and then the fun begins. It's a real gradual downhill for a while and I'm tucked in behind people and feeling good. Some people pass us and I tuck in along behind them. When we get to some steeper sections, I let it loose and go zooming down. I've had the same guy on my tail for at least a mile and he seems to stay with me. We hit my favorite curvy/turny section of the downhill trail and I treat it like a roller coaster! And comment to a gal I'm passing how much fun this is. She agrees but makes some comment that I'm zooming along.
I know the trails so just a bit longer to the final uphill section of the finish. I slow it down as I'm not racing. Ahem. The guy behind me finally passes me in the last bit and I restrain myself by not chasing him down. Done! And I finish with a huge smile on my face.
The guy who had been behind me comes up to thank me for being such a good pacer. I stretch for a bit sitting in a sunny field and go partake of an excellent food spread. The race director and Seattle Running Co. owner Scott Mccoubrey is behind the feed table.
The day before I had watched "The Runner: David Horton's 2,700 Mile Run of the Pacific Coast Trail" and had watched Scott on the film. I loved the documentary! I commented to Scott at the race that I'd just watched the documentary and really enjoyed it. He said the PCT was an amazing trail and David is an amazing guy. Pretty cool!
I went home to look at what I'd run. 5 miles in 51:25 for 10:17 pace and heart rate average of 160. 160? Oops! Easy pace on trails is usually around 150. I'd had too much fun! Legs felt great but then that is the beauty of softer trails. Oh well. I'd had a side stitch for a section of trail but everything else had felt great.
Second Race Day:
I wake up really nervous! I'd been debating what pace to go out all week. My PR is 7:18 overall on this course. I couldn't do that but 7:30-7:35 seemed reasonable. The first mile you get pulled out fast and is slightly downhill so I'd expect 7:30 or just a bit under. Mile 2 and 3 would be slower with some hills and then see what I could do with mile 4 and 5. The last mile has a bit of nasty uphill section which was always tough.
I got there in plenty of time and did an easy mile warm up. It was hot already at 8 am. It was probably already 60 degrees, sunny and very humid. On the mile warm up I had a side stitch. Dang, that is not a good sign. I stopped and massaged the area and that actually worked. Another mile warm up and I felt better.
This race is a wave start. Silly me. I am honest and seed myself into the second wave (expected pace between 7 & 8minutes). There is some problem with the chip mats and the race is delayed for what seems like forever but is only 10 minutes. They can't get the mats working so my wave will be gun time only.
I'm exactly at my pace immediately because of the crowds. The first two miles seemed pretty full and almost immediately by 1 mile I'm seeing people walking. People freak out about missing the bridge and seed themselves into the faster wave. Once again I vow always to seed myself into the faster wave and screw this! But by race day next year, I'll have forgotten and will be honest again.
By Mile 2, I know it is going to be just a hang on and finish sort of run. I see a friend who was worried about beating the bridge as she is crossing the bridge and give her a "well done" shout as I go past. There are three water stops along this basically 5 mile course. Three? I'm really thirsty and hot by 2 but no way I'm stopping for water for such a short race. Plus cold water might trigger some side stitch issues and I'm not taking a chance. By mile 3, I'm having to keep talking myself into continuing to run. The good thing is that I'm still continually passing people even if that means I'm dodging around a bit.
The last mile sucked as expected. It's barely rolling but it hurts at that point. The finish is at UW stadium but there is this mean little hill behind the stadium and then you have to wind through the parking lot until finally you are in the stadium finishing. I'm trying to summon up that sprint that I held back yesterday at the trail race and I have none. Done!
7:25 (mile marker was about 4 seconds past when my garmin beeped)
7:50 (missed it)
7:43 (there was a mile marker?)
51:25 for 7:38 pace but I do think the course was a bit short or I cut corners.
I felt so ill when I finished. I took my shirt off and immediately felt better as I was just hot! I'm both pleased and disappointed with this race. Under 7:40 is not too far off my goal and expectations but I was still secretly hoping to be closer to 7:30 pace.
Did the trail race hurt me yesterday? Probably. But by that much? I really don't think so. It was a very good lesson though on restraint and control and I probably failed that.
I'm really happy that the side stitch didn't give me any more trouble. I'll probably continue to massage it and may schedule another massage this week or next to help deal with the hip stuff which is making this worse.
What's next? I've been feeling like I finally am coming back and maybe I can start adding more mileage in (I've been in the 30's for the past month). However I have a half marathon in June and then a relay in july which will necessitate more speedwork. I can't add more mileage in and do the speedwork. I am just enjoying the ability to run long again so I think maybe my focus is switching a bit. I need to think about this a bit more.
I loved my first trail race! It was so much fun and I hope to do the rest of the series. I've never technically done a 5 mile race so I guess I can even call that a PR.
Crossposted at runango.