Saturday, January 10, 2009

Race Report: Race 3-Winter Grand Prix 3000 Meter XC

What a blast! 

The Data:

Second run at the Winter Grand Prix 3000 Meter Cross Country race and  I achieved my goal, to beat my first time on this race. I did it, by 16 seconds, but I did it!

Yes, it is high time I start trying to meet goals again. 

I didn't feel very racy when I woke up this morning and it took me a bit to get going, and even a bit longer to get excited. 

PT picked me up at about 8 so we could get down there and have a nice warm-up. It was cold and a bit windy when we pulled in. Well over 200 people came out for this race and the organizers decided to split the race into a men's and women's events—the men's at 9:00 and the women's at 9:30. Went off on my warm-up mile-ish, hit the head, and then went back to the car to stay warm. I ran on the course and noted a lot of slippery mud and twigs down. Going up Kite Hill I paused mid-way to kick two condom enshrouded cucumbers out of the path (strange things happen in this park and I wonder what stories those cukes could tell). 

Went down to the start to begin the line up and it was interesting. There seemed to be generally more younger runners than the first XC—the Northwest School had quite a few runners out and there were more junior and high school runners out as well. There were about 140 men in the field. The gun went off at 9:03 and off we went. 

DW had admonished me to "run my heart out" today because it was good for me (and, frankly, I have not been doing that of late) so when the gun went off I went off as fast as I could. The field in front of me was a mucky mess already and by the time I was going over it the footing was quite treacherous and my feet were sliding out from underneath me. But I had a cheering section! PT was there shouting welcome encouragement. 

The first mile was a blur, I was kicking as hard as I could and almost had a sub-8:00 time but managed an 8:02. The second .9 miles was a lot harder and I could feel that I was slowing down as the second lap went on. Even so, everything that happened around me was so vivid and even intimate at the time. The sound of everyone's breathing, the thud of feet, groans of exertion. I can't remember much of who I was passing and who was passing me. Many of the younger runners went out too fast, as did I, and blew up. Asthma Attack Man was also out there wheezing but running cheerfully along. Skritchy pants kid and I traded places before he went off ahead. I think I passed people going up Kite Hill (the first time was easy, the second, not so much). There were some HS XC guys who where not going very fast but who were running 4 abreast on the course. I passed them on the downhill, kept going, and didn't see them anymore. I do wonder what they were doing. I was done by the time I turned towards the finish line from the beach, a mere .14 miles . The track there was really slippery and uphill (of course) and it was just a slog to the finish (got snaked by some guy) but I hit the line in 15:27 something and then had a finish card handed to me with a 99 on it. So, I think, I am 99 out of 140 men. PT met me at the end of the chute with a big smile and hearty congratulations, told me that watching the race was really neat, where my stuff was, and then went off to do her own warm-up. I grabbed some water and submitted my finish card and then got my jacket and hat before trotting out to the start so I could get PT's stuff. 

Pretty giddy but also cold. :-)

After getting PT's warm-up clothes I went down to a position by the Fins so I could see the runners go by and do some cheering (I am not so good at this but I try). I heard the announcer making an announcement, all of the women cheering, and then silence. Finally, the gun went off and then, silence. Pretty soon I saw this line of young girls hauling pell-mell towards where I was standing. Behind them were older more experienced and determined women, including the eventual winner. Individual runners were going so fast but it seemed like it took forever for them to run past my position because they didn't seem to be moving that fast. I cannot explain this illusion. PT came by wearing a very determined look and headed out on the wood chip path between the fins (I hate running on that as it is too soft). Some of the younger kids with their parents were coming through. One kid went by with this huge infectious smile that got everyone cheering (although it was gone by the second loop). Then some Moms came through with their daughters. As they went past I heard one remark to her daughter that they had better hurry as they were going to be passed by the "Love Handles Division" (220 lbs for men, 150 lbs for women)—hearing this unkindness made me pretty sad for a moment. And then there was the little girl who, covered in mud, had had enough and sobbed "I don't want to run anymore!" as her mom tried to coax her onward. What are the lessons being taught here? 

I moved my position to just before the finish line and saw the leaders coming through. 

Wow! They were hauling, lapping the field actually, and I got an exciting look at race strategy and tactics. The initial leaders were now in the mid-pack and the more experienced runners were beginning to open up a gap and duke it out. Finally, the leader poured it on as she went past towards the finish. She looked so calm as she crossed alone. 

Others came in and I could see how much effort was being put into those last few meters. And battles too, runners switching back and forth, others holding off challenge all the way to the line with legs straining and sweat flying. Some talking to themselves in the last moments of the race, "You can do this!" one breathed as she went past. 

PT came through heading down towards the beach with about .42 to go and I shouted "Go! Almost there! Almost done!" She had the presence of mind to say "No it isn't!" But she actually was almost there and in a couple of minutes, that stretched into an eternity, she crossed the line with a big smile breaking through the grimace of effort. 

What a blast! Can't wait until the next one. 

  • Pace better! None of this go out fast and let the wheels come off half-way. Newbie mistake and I should know better
  • Get better shoes. These trail shoes are horrible in mud. The BEST mud shoes I tried were Inov-8 RocLite 320's BUT they were not supportive enough and I had to return them, much muddied
  • More consistent speed work


PuddleThumper said...

I think the exact quote in response to almost done was "nuh unh!" :-D

The cucumber thing is just disturbing. :-/

I think meeting some goals and racing are good for you too.

rpd said...

I think you are probably right about that although I heard a fully formed sentence and thought, "Oh, she is going rip my spleen out!"

It is amazing what I see when I look down. But then again, if I do that too much I run into trees. :-P