Friday, June 8, 2012

Running in the Redwoods: Photo Essay

While Michelle and I were visiting family in Arcata, CA this past week I took the opportunity to hit the trails in the Redwood Community Forest.  Stats: 11 hours of running for 62 miles and 19,000 ft of climbing. I think we also had 8-10 hours of stroller time with our nephew :-)

Here is a photo essay of my runs:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oak Mountain Trail Marathon: Race Report

When one of my clients was selected to represent Team USA at the ITU Cross World Championships in Pelham, Alabama, I was honored to fly out and support him at the event. Coincidentally, the day after the race, they were holding a trail marathon at the same venue. With the support of my good friend and client I jumped at the opportunity to enter.

I spent the day before the marathon out in the elements cheering for the ITU athletes as they battled a tough course under an unrelenting sun. I carried my water bottle, stayed well-hydrated and sat in the shade when the opportunity presented itself. I'm sure many of the other runners were resting indoors with their feet up. However, I strongly believe that being out and about in the heat and humidity really helped with my acclimation to a much more temperate environment (especially in comparison to northern Idaho)!

I went into the race with a substantial amount of volume on my legs and with no taper. Two weeks prior I had logged a solid 24-mile run with 5,000 feet of climbing and the weekend before I had logged a 30-miler with 7,000 of climbing. Of course, there was the additional 14,000 feet of climbing that I logged on the other training days, but who's counting :-)

I got a decent night of sleep prior to race morning, and this carried over to the morning going smoothly. I had a banana and some eggs at the hotel about 3 hrs prior to race start, spent a solid hour going through all my mobility exercise and then we were off to the race. We arrived at the venue with plenty of time for me to get in an easy mile and a half and a half dozen striders before they called us to the line.

The race itself went off fast as the lead group of 10 runners paced through the first mile at 6:05. While I knew this pace would cost me a little at the end, I also knew the value of separating myself from the group. "Out of site, out of mind" can be a very valuable race tactic in trail running.

As I settled into a comfortable pace, I found myself with a small group of three locals until about mile 9.  Two of the guys had done a mix of trail and road marathons and indicated a sub 4-hour showing at Oak Mountain was equivalent to a 3-hour marathon. Not having their experience or local knowledge, I took their word for it.

When of the runners told me he was a 2:42 marathoner and the other a 2:45, I had a split second of hesitation that I was running beyond my ability. Thankfully, as quickly as the doubt appeared it was gone. Leaving me with only a sense of pure excitement. Here I was in the sweltering South leading a group of 2:40 marathoners in my first trail marathon.

As we transitioned into a hilly 3-mile section, I broke away from the group and ran solo for the rest of the race. In the last 5 miles I could really feel the fatigue in my legs from the previous couple weeks, but I just focused on being present in the run and pushing through the fatigue. I managed to pass four runners in the last 5 miles coming away with a finish time of 3:42. Good enough for 7th place overall and 2nd in my age group. Despite being exhausted and in desperate need of water and shade, I was elated with my performance!

The course was 90% single track with around 3,000 ft of climbing.  In some sections it was buffed out and fast, but the majority was rocky and rooty. A technical trail, for sure, but I love technical terrain. Despite the challenges of the course, the beauty and tranquility of the area caused the miles to click by.

A big congrats to Rodney Mall on his stellar race at the ITU Cross Worlds and thank you for coming out to cheer for me during my race!! We had a great trip and I am hoping to make it back there to race in 2013.