Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cougar Mountain Trail Race #2 - 10 miles

Wow. Was I looking forward to this race. After the high of the fantastic trail run last weekend and then the very big low of losing a cherished pet, this race was going to be a good get out there and run race.

I've been struggling a bit with training lately. I'm feeling fit yet not. Feeling very strong yet slow. All the trail running has really built up my strength and I'm ready to start some faster training in preparation for Ragnar Northwest Passage Relay. Yet I'm still nervous about the dang foot.

I did an unsanctioned track workout Wednesday am after a long hilly run the evening before. It was a spur of the moment workout with the idea that a good short speed workout would work very good things mentally and physically for me with Ragnar weeks away. I was only going to do this workout if I felt good and would pull the plug on it for any reason.

The workout was great. Quarter mile repeats in 3:20 with long recoveries. Form felt great and it was very good feeling working through the last couple hundred yards of the last repeats. It's been awhile since I've successfully battled back and 1) did not stop and 2) did not slow down.

I admitted my illegal workout to my coach and got a rather confused and plaintive plea about what the hell was I doing? Truthfully, I'm just not sure where I am right now and it's been hard to trust the training. We'll be visiting this issue shortly.

So I went into this race with the idea to run well, to run strongly and smartly and I totally succeeded.

I'd learned my lesson with the last race. I carefully checked the course and the elevation profile from last year. I wanted to know just how long the huge descent on Wilderness Peak would be and how long the subsequent climb would be. When would we be clear of the worst of the climb and close enough to let it hang out?

It was great fun going over to the race with RPD and Sj whom we'd talked into joining in on the fun. The day was glorious but pretty warm and sunny already at 9. Standing in the sun for pre-race directions was making me hot.

I did a short warm up mainly so I could stretch calves and hamstrings a bit and soon enough we were off through the field and onto coyote Creek Trail. My main goals were to go out steady and keep the first two climbs in control. I know teh long drop from Wilderness is a quad buster and wanted to run well there but only in control. Stay steady on the long climb and then push with what I had left into the finish.

All was going well on the first climb up Lost Beagle. I probably ran a little bit more of this than I have in the past races but I kept it a bit easier. There was a nice little group of people all going along in here and all at the same pace. We hit the peak adn started down Anti Aircraft. Typically, I'd pass a lot of people here since I'm a good downhill runner but with 8 hilly miles still looming, I stayed with the pack.

the big surprise was as 2.5 when the Floppy arm guy (more on him later) ahead of me suddenly slapped his ankle. Then a stinging pain hit my shoulder. Yeouch! then a runner behind me shrieked. Next another runner yelles "f#####ck!." We'd all been hit by a nest of angry bees! Heck that hurt and I was afraid the bug was stuck in my top. It was not. We all spent some time jabbering about that and wondering if any of us were allergic to the stings. None were.

I carried a half full crumpled water bottle. this meant I could skip the first couple of water stops. Once on clay pit road, I ran and drank, ran and had a gel, ran and drank some more. I am getting better at that. the people who had stopped at the water stop were hell bent to make up some time so I was quickly passed. there is some uphill in here and I managed to catch up with a couple runners ahead of me. East Fork tends to be very runnable but with the sun up I found it difficult to see where to put my feet. I heard others around me catching their feet. Still I did pass a couple of people here and was passed by one woman who was flying!

Onto Fred Railroad and quickly onto the climb towards Wilderness Peak. I caught up with a woman here and passed her but told her that I was a walker on the steep stuff so she should feel free to pass at any time. She admitted she'd not been on these back trails before and wasn't certain what the rest of the course would be like. She also thought walking seemed like a good idea!

climb, climb, climb. Honestly, we hit the top of the climb sooner than I thought we would and then the downhill began. I was just behind a very long legged gangly guy who obviously was a very quick runner on the flats and uphills. he just wasn't a very good downhill runner. I probably stayed behind him for at least a half mile however. This is steep, tricky running and I didn't want to kill my quads. Finally he'd had enough of a shadow and wanted me to pass. I told him he should say hi when he passed back on the uphill.

and then the climb began. The nice part of this race was that unlike the last race, there was almost always someone around. I had a very good sense of how I was doing. yes, I walk up the steeps but I can tell I don't lose time. it just gave me a better sense of pacing and truthfully, I was just beaming in here. I was having a great time and felt very good. yes, I was working hard but it all just seemed doable.

It was getting warm though. I had taken a gel and decided an electrolyte tablet was going to help here. I was sweating quite a bit for me and I tend to sweat very salty. I think this helped a lot. I'd finished the water I'd brought by 6. Miraculously it seemed, at 7 there was a water stop wheelbarrelled in by volunteers. I took a couple small cups of water.

Steep downhill here for the next half mile. I'd caught up to a woman who had just the most impressively runner muscled legs. Just when I thought I'd pass her, she took a spill. Yikes. She popped back up with a "fine!" but then let me pass. It was a good reminder to watch my feet. My legs were getting tired.

the final technical trail along Shy Bear is a pretty tough trail at this point in the race. My legs were getting tired, I was hot and very thirsty and you know you are close. How much to push? there was a woman ahead of me whom I tried to gain contact with. with the uphills and steeper downhills, I'd get close. She'd pull away from me on the more runnable sections.

finally onto Fred's and here is where on the last race, I felt like I didn't have much left. This time, I could push it. I concentrated on form and pulled into contact with Flapping Arm Guy. Scott Mccoubrey (race director) had cheered this runner when we hit Fred's and told him it was nice to see him running again. He looked like he had noodle arms and hands when running. they just seemed to flap along unconnected to his body. Very odd. I wanted to suggest to him that arm drive could probably only help!

I zoomed past him on the Bypass Trail but told him he'd pass me on the uphill final section. It was true he did. But i think I made him work for it. Instead of feeling like I was bogging down on the very short uphill on Old Man's Trail, I managed to stay in contact with the runners ahead of me. That was a great feeling! Flapping Arm Guy Hi-5'd his kids all at the finish line which made me smile and I was done!

I quickly went jogging off to the car to get water and change out of my trail shoes (hot feet and working on a blister). A guy slowly walking around looked at me rather sourly and said "go endurance Lady." Honestly he looked rather annoyed that I was positively beaming and bouncing along. Hey, I'd had a great time!

Critically looking at this race, I did spend a lot of time sitting behind people especially for the easy and the more difficult technical downhills. It was a strong effort but even just an hour later, my legs just felt great. I am not sure I want to do this series next year except I am most tempted by it just because of how much I've learned so far. I'd like to really be able to race these trails but that does require tempo work done on trails. that's pretty challenging and there is much to think about. As always, I was just thankful that I was out and running it and feeling so good.

Shortly RPD showed up. I stuffed my face with watermelon and potato chips and enjoyed the sun now that I didn't have to run. Soon enough Sj came in and said that was a tough one! She was positive she was not going to run the 13 mile race in a month.

by the end of the car ride home, she'd changed her mind. :-D

Great series. Great race. Ragnar is in two weeks. Let's hope I can find a little bit of speed in there. I've got the strength and I've got the endurance. :-D

10.1 miles
watch time: 1:56:22 with one stop to retie shoes and one water stop
falls I witnessed: 2
falls I achieved: 0
bee stings: 1

garmin connect track: link

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