Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Midweek Trail Race!

RPD on Erratic Trail on Seward Park
And it does deserve multiple exclamation points!!!!

It's a cut back week. After 3 weeks of high mileage where I've hit lifetime mileage highs for the week, i felt like it would be prudent to take an easier week. I still wanted to get in a good workout during the week though and decided a 6 mile trail race would work well instead of a tempo run. 

As usual, the sudden lack of running meant I felt rather off and more stiff and tired than when I'm typically running more. It's very strange but typical for me so I try not to think about it too much. the trail race, a summer race series put on by Northwest Trail Runs, was something i was really looking forward. Even better a friend was coming along and he'd talked a neighbor into joining us for his first trail run. 

I took light rail and then a bus to get to the in-city park and felt all mass transit savvy.  The friend would give me a ride home and i could stash my backpack in his car while we were running. 

the race took place in a park that I've run around countless times. Seward Park is a small peninsula which juts into Lake Washington. It's been a part of Seattle Parks since the beginning and has old growth forest. There is a paved road/path which runs along the outside of the park and has great views all around the lake. There are some parking lots and roads which climb to the hilly interior but I've never been on any of the trails. It's a small area but i was really impressed with the trails. They are well signed and mapped with stone markers.   
Like usual, it was a pretty mellow vibe for these small mid-week trail races. I do like the underlying tension though, it is noticeable.  We got started just a bit late after a course briefing. Northwest Trail runs are always well marked so I look at the course map (always well done too) and don't worry about it. This 10k race was a 3 loop course run of a just over 2 mile loop. The first mile of the loop was on a wide graveled rolling wide trail and then we'd turn onto a more technical trail. My goal was to go out faster and then settle into the technical trail. I wanted a good tempo workout and to maintain a steady pace for the next two loops. 

We were off and it was crowded for the first quarter mile. One of the locked poles blocking car traffic nearly took me out but someone pointed it out at the last second and I swerved and pointed it out to the runners behind. Gotta pay attention! I was going feeling good and ready to see that technical trail. A sharp left turn after about a mile and we were on a twisty, turny trail that went up quite a bit with some well worn stairs. There were a lot of very large logs accross the trail too. It was seriously fun! 

I am, of course, a bit slower on the uphills so expect to get passed by people on those sections but we were all pacing pretty well though this mile. As we came back to the start to start the second loop, i did get passed by a gal when i stopped to grab water. We'd had 90 degree temps the day before. Fortunately the weather was cooler but it was still pretty warm (80) and quite humid. With such a small race, there were no cups of water just set out so i had to fill a cup and toss it down and then start up again. 

That worked out because now i had that gal ahead of me and I kept her just ahead of me most of the rest of the second loop. Towards the end of the loop, she stopped suddenly to walk up a hill. I yelled at her that she wasn't allowed to stop now so keep up! She went with this and started running again letting me pace. Haha! 

Yes, i'd figured she was only doing 2 loops and was fading a bit but she rallied and stuck to me and finished the second loop (and her race) solidly. I took another water break and went off for lap three. I was not expecting to have anyone around me and was surprised to hear footsteps behind me.  No worries for that as we were starting the easier graveled path that had a nice section of downhill. I decided to go ahead and push on this portion knowing the downhill was relaxing for me. And it was, my heart rate dropped as I recovered somewhat.  

Last left turn onto the last mile adn the technical section. The footsteps behind me stayed close. "Go ahead and pass when you need to," I called out. I got silence and this person stayed put. Ok that was sort of annoying. It makes me a bit nervous having someone breathing down my neck right behind me on a technical trail. This one had plenty of places where I'd need to suddenly apply the breaks to get over a log for instance.

My legs were feeling tired but there wasn't much to go. However the heavy breathing dude was bugging me so finally i turned around and asked him to go ahead. Turns out the friend had invited a neighbor along for a trail run and this was the neighbor! He'd never done a trail race before and obviously didn't realize that he could be annoying hanging so closely to another runner. I was quite surprised and let that distract me unfortunately. I chatted with him a bit while he (still!) stayed behind me. I should've just had him go ahead. 

Finally we reached some of the last little hills and he went ahead with another female runner who'd caught up.  Finally, it was fun to run along the last bridges and turns and duck onto the last turn to the finish. I was just under an hour and had run fairly even splits. The neighbor had had fun and as the friend came in, he was all smiles too. I was slightly bummed that the distractions and water stops had probably cost me 3rd place female over all (remember: very small field) but the point was to get in a good workout, explore some new trails and have some trail fun with some friends. Done! 

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