Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cougar Mountain Trail Series #2 7.9? Miles

A year ago this week, I had one of those running weeks that you remember.

Here's how my log read:

T - 10 miles trail run
W - 6 miles with 4 x 800 on the track
Th - bike 12 easy (supposed to run and I did not)
F - off
Sa - Planned DNF at the second race of the Cougar Mountain Trail series

And that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the summer and fall for running. The next time I ran 10 miles was in December. I remember that Tuesday run as really being nice. I had a very successful track workout but noticed more pronounced shin pain the next day. It would take three more months for it finally to be diagnosed as a stress fracture.

That DNF at the second race of the trail series was my first DNF ever. I went out to support RPD at his race and just to see what the race was like and with the idea that a DNF is good for you. Nothing wrong with bailing on a race if you know it's for the better to stop. And at that point it was.

Fast forward a year.

It's nice to be a runner again and now I'm also a biker. Running is going well. I still have stupid high arches and I'm still dealing with a touch of left foot heel pain so I'm rather hesitant to increase mileage more than I have now (30 - 35 mpw).

This Tuesday I had the same run as last year. This year I ran 8 trail miles at a pretty good effort but chatting with a friend the whole time. I'm most disappointed that I missed seeing the bear. Yes, the bear! No track workout this year but I did have 2 solid miles at 7:30 the next morning after the trail run. And then the race.

Woohoo! It was a pleasure just going and knowing I'd be standing at the finish line eventually. I was pretty relaxed about this run and not nervous at all. It was a gorgeous morning as I drove over to pick up RPD. We got there in plenty of time to do a quick mile warm up and a bit of a stretch.

and quickly we were off. I deliberately seeded myself far back. I was nervous about the latter miles of this race and I didn't want to start off too fast. Still, once we got along Clay Pit Road, I started passing people in that section.

the turn off to trail was slow as expected as it goes to single track. There was a little bit of walking but that was fine as I was just settling into running. The first climb starts at Lost Beagle Trail. My mix of walking hard and running works very well and I stayed right in the little pack which had developed. Every once in a while, someone would step off to the side and I'd power past them. I knew I could go much harder but the thought of those last miles was looming.

The trot down AntiAircraft Ridge is always fun. I passed a few more people here and was a little disappointed that there was no mud at all in this section. It has been dry the last few weeks. I really think mud just adds to the trail running fun. soon we hit the next uphill and I kept it steady. There was a water / nuun stop at 3 back on clay pit road. I was already dripping as it was pretty humid so I did stop for a cup of each.

Onward. another up section and then the really fun gradual downhill along East Fork Trail. This is a favorite section as it is so runnable. I passed a few more people here and was just not thinking of anything except foot placement, proper breathing and movement. The turn to Fred RR was easy and then the climb up Shy Bear Trail. I just ran this a few weeks ago and was marveling at how much everything has grown.

I could see three men ahead of me in a little pack. I knew I'd pass them eventually so I just concentrated on keeping my effort reasonable up the climb. I guess I must've been in the zone because my garmin beeped a mile lap. I thought I was at mile 4. Nope. Turns out I missed a mile and I was already at mile 5! One guy pulled over immediately. Up. Up. Up. I stayed with the next guy for a quite a bit until on the downhill I passed.

One guy left and I caught up fairly soon. He surprised me by stepping aside. I was looking forward to just following for a bit as at this point I was unsure quite what the trail was going to do. Then I was alone. I could see no one ahead of me and the course definitely got a little more challenging with some steeper up and down and rocky bits. This was the area I had been worried about but it wasn't as bad as I thought.

The big surprise was not having anyone around. This is a race! Where are the other people to help pull me along? I do think I settled in here a little too easily. There were sections of walkways in here. Those make me nervous to run over. I always picture myself pitching off of them or the other danger of them breaking mid-stride and taking out a leg. Yeah, sometimes my brain stays a little too busy!

My legs were feeling good, breathing was good. I was starting to get a bit hungry and thirsty but not a big deal. Finally, the turn back to Shy Bear and then to Fred's RR showed up. My plan had been to let loose along here. I did finally see a couple of people ahead of me. I'd had glimpses of a purple shirted girl. She'd must've had the same plan. I never could catch up! I passed a guy who was walking along Fred's. Walking? Yep. He must've spectacularly blown up and gone out too fast. He started running again as I got nearer but he was barely slogging along at that point.

Scott McCoubrey, Seattle Running Company owner and the race director was at the intersection of East Fork Trail and Fred's shouting encouragement. "Just seven tenths of a mile to go and pretty much downhill!" I had to comment, "pretty much?" That got a wry grin out of Scott. "Pretty much" because this is trail running you know. What goes up also goes down multiple times.

Bypass! Last race I zoomed down this. This time I was feeling a little slower. I had sore quads most of this week from a killer trail run last weekend and I do think I was feeling it a bit. I wasn't sore but couldn't quite let loose. But I stayed strong through the mild uphills and practiced non-lazy breathing.

Non-lazy breathing? I do struggle with breathing when running. I finally got successful treatment for not asthma per se but what was labeled reactive airway disorder. I think just a catch all term for allergy and lung issues. It's a new thing being able to breathe deeply and pain free an entire run. I forget to breathe properly since I don't have a lot of practice at it when running strongly. So, exhale very strongly using the belly muscles and the air flows in. Try it when working hard. It works!

Final sprint and I was so happy to see that finish line! Woot!

I figured I'd be around 1:15 to 1:20 if all went well and I clocked 1:20:20 by my watch. I felt good and went off to jog around a short bit to cool down. I wanted to watch RPD come in. He had planned to just run this race but we all know how that happens. I expected him to come in around 1:30 if just easily running but I missed him because he'd had a very strong race!

We compared notes and grinned and beamed and hung around while they did awards. There were happy dogs, the sun was shining and it was just pleasant to be out there.

Distance: 7.9 (garmin)
time: 1:20:20
pace: 10:16
elevation change: 1325 feet

runsaturday link

I'll be curious as to how I rank in the listings. I was right in the middle out of both men and women runners for the first race (138 out of 262 runners total). I would guess I'd be farther down the standings this race as these races get longer.

Last year's woes are behind me. it was wonderful to be out there so in the moment that the time just flowed past. I'm looking forward to the next trail race but first there is this little thing called the Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon.

Oh! and I did find a photo of last month's race. I saw a photographer in place for this race and I hope I get a good picture. I have very few of myself actually trail running.

This is within the first quarter mile starting out on the grassy field. Photo courtesy of Kingcountyparks (link). I'm on the very top right.

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