Monday, August 15, 2011
Scott Cougar Mountain Trail Run - 13 miler
I did what I could. Tried to go to bed earlier. When I went out for a run and realized I was so tired, i cut that run short. Legs felt fine but I was just not feeling it. I hoped all would settle down because training now turns to a mid-September trail event. I need trail miles and this weekend was the 13 mile Cougar Mountain trail run. Of course I signed up. What a few hours of running when you are tired?
Quite a bit, it turns out.
I was excited about this event. I really like the trails and I'm not worried about time for this one. I really haven't had a lot of really steep technical trails this summer and need to get my legs and mind used to them again. This course delivers. Straight up and down for 13 miles with a lot of rocks and roots. it would be good to practice taking in more liquids and electrolytes and see if that helps the lungs last longer in these endurance events.
I last did this event in 2009 after having done all the previous distances in the series plus Ragnar. In 2009, I came into this event at probably the fastest I've been and well trained for trails. Could I approach that same time? I wasn't sure but hoped that with better food/water management I could. In 2009, I'd run out of water and had some hamstring cramping issues at the end. the strikes against me? Did I mention I was tired? And I hadn't exactly been tapering last week when i ran 3.5 hours on easier trails.
I got there about 30 minutes before race start and picked up my bib. I was really surprised to see so many uber-fit looking people. Honestly I felt like a poser next to some of these people. yeah, this race is a USATF championship event and I was asked if I was a member and thus eligible for some prizes. Uh no. I'm a poser! And see my ipod loaded with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as read by Stephan Fry (the British version is my favourite!) and I planned to use it which is against the rules of USATF.
Talk talk talk and we were off 'round the field, to Clay Pit Road and onto Coyote Creek. This is when you are surrounded by other people and there is some pleasant chatter. I really just wanted to go out easily and get warmed up and just enjoy myself. We started up Lost Beagle and really I just didn't feel good at all. Hungry and tired and grumpy. Dang. Already? It was going to be a long run with that attitude.
I tried to shake it off and was really grumpy about how hard this felt. Finally we hit the top and started down. I did pass people as usual on the downhill as I'm better downhill but really wanted to keep it easier so tried not to speed up. I had a strict routine for liquids and food:
Every 15 minutes - water
Every 30 minutes - gel or my energy bar with an electrolyte capsule and more water
This did seem to work. I was never hungry again after the initial hunger within first starting. Two electrolyte capsules per hour is about double my typical rated. I was really sweaty and could tell I needed both more water and electrolytes. Did the lungs do better? Debatable. I still stopped around mile 11, about 3 hours after last using inhaler to use the inhaler again.
After the climb up Wilderness inwardly snickering at people's reactions to the ongoing and forever climb, I'd turned on good ol' Harry Potter and just started to feel much better about the whole thing. The trouble with knowing the trails pretty well is understanding how to bail out early if I really wanted to. Did I want to DNF? No, I did not. This really was a good training run for something else. I needed the more technical trail experience and I was getting it so get on with it.
After that, I felt better and just started enjoying myself. I took in the gorgeous scenery and just tried to stay steady. I honestly didn't have a lot of oomph uphill at all. Oh well. Just keep going. The course was very well marked which was great because from about 7.5 on, i really saw very few people on the course and you did have to make those turns on the course yourself.
I seldom get to run over on De Leo Wall and Marshall's Hill Trail which is too bad. It was really pretty over there and the weather was perfect for this run. I managed to avoid getting stung by a wasp this year although I think i was close to one. I do remember at one point going by an area where there were some buzzing creatures. I could feel something land on my ankle, i swatted at it and took off. Phew.
I came up to the last aid station (around mile 10) and called hello. She was alone and sitting reading. Hopped up and asked what I'd like. I really love these low key trail events. Something salty please. And of course there were potato chips. Munch munch. She offered some coke and dang if that didn't sound good then. I haven't had soda in some years (no really, years!) and slurped some down. Tasty! I'll have to remember that for these long events as it will give me something to look forward to.
the trails were more runnable in here and I kept at it. And then finally I made the turn onto Quarry Trail. This is it. The last long uphill climb. Get through this One Mile Climb and that was it. Flat or downhill and very well known trails to the finish. I could do this! Trudge, trudge trudge. I was happy to see that there were some more people around me now. I was catching up a bit to some others and then, kersplat! I hooked a toe on a rock and down I went. I was so mad and stunned. I was flat out on the trail for a bit and couldn't believe it. It really was vaguely uphill on this section and wide open. Dumb. I hate falls like that. A guy quarter mile behind me called "you ok?! as I was standing up and leaning over in shock. My first reaction was to burst into tears. it was the knee jerk upset reaction when tired, really. I controlled that, said i was just fine and needed a minute. He ran on (not stopping which i was glad of). I did take that minute and then trotted off.
Shoulder sore, knee bleeding and just mad at myself. Finally I hit Fred's and just steadily started running. Bypass to Old Man's trail and I passed about 4 people in this section. Done!
2:48 and my garmin read just under 13 miles
In 2009, I ran this in 2:40 and my same garmin and same course read 13.3 miles. Results are up and distance is marked at 13.7 miles. Haha! I love trail races.
The sense of accomplishment of finishing this punishing course is sky high. After realizing I've been fighting tired all week and feeling so dead on this run, I'm taking this week as an easy week. I love road races but there is something special about being able to do these tough trail runs.