Saturday, August 8, 2009

Up! Down! Up! Down! Up! Down! Around! Around! Up! . . .

Let's start with this . . .

and then, let's continue with this . . .

Cougar Mountain Series 13-Miler?

Yep, its that time again! :-)

The Bottom Line:
Official Time: 2:48:08
Unofficial Time: 02:47:28
Official Place: 102
Gender Place: 71/92
Number of Gels Consumed: 2
Race Firsts: Did not trip, stumble, wobble at all.
Number of Bee/Wasp Stings: 0
Fun Factor (scale from 1-10): 10
Best Line I Heard All Day: "Umm, this is going to be harder than running around Green Lake"

The Blow-By-Blow (sort of):

They changed the course from last year! No ending climb on Cave Hole. Instead there was a wonderful jaunt up Quarry Trail before hitting Fred's Railroad back to Sky Country. Still seven climbs, most of them quite challenging but it was nice to finish on a general downhill.

Different course which means, as PT has been telling me while rolling her eyes, I cannot really compare what I did last year to today's jaunt in the woods. But I can (just to be silly and stubborn).

Much stronger today and faster overall with a lower overall AVG HR and MAX HR. I am also a lot less beaten up going into this race. Last year I smacked my foot on a rock but good and it stressed something in my pelvis that later made walking, sitting down (and getting back up again), and running impossible for about a month. Today, no such damage and, though tired, I am moving around quite well. Moreover, I am starting with a fairly high mileage base. This year I walked the uphills more and did so at a faster pace overall. Last year I tried running much more. Best of all, my glasses didn't fog. :-P

For me this race unfolded in three phases: a strong start, a worrisome fade, and a very strong finish.

A Strong Start:

It is interesting that we started in the place where people would mostly likely turn an ankle, the grass field just past the old Nike site. Footing was uneven and the grass obscured the various holes and uneven spots. There were marker stakes delineating the course which were hard to see in the crowd, some hilarity ensued. But the field and subsequent run on Clay Pit Road helped spread out the pack. I found myself running in a long line of runners on Coyote Creek but by the drop down to Klondike Swamp and then Lost Beagle things had thinned considerably. I cannot believe how fast this section went. Though flatish, this section is very rocky and rooted which necessitates lots of quick foot work. I dropped back a bit to allow myself a clear view of the trail but still maintained contact with the runners ahead of me (they were never out of sight). It is hard to see what is happening when running so closely behind someone. I had one or two people behind me. I could hear their breathing and their footfalls. They eventually passed me but I ended up catching them in the end.

Overall this phase of the race was very strong. I felt solid and had lots of energy with good foot turnover and a nice high step.

Wilderness Peak, the first significant climb of the run, and Wilderness Cliff, about 1 mile of steep descent, went pretty well too. Ran-walked the climb and ran the downhill strongly, perhaps a little too strongly. I did get passed on the descent by a few folks running together, one guy was just flying. This is generally when my glasses start to fog (at least they did so last year) but no such trouble today. It was fun to swing myself on trees to help sling-shot myself around various curves (I think I was the only one doing this).

A Worrisome Fade:

Maybe a better way of talking about this period of the run is that was my "Grumpy Time". My legs felt trashed coming off Wilderness Cliff and I took the time to walk a bit and eat a gel before going up on Wilderness Creek to Longview and Deceiver. I caught the pack that had passed me and walked through them, they then passed me in turn. My legs really felt awful and I began to think that the 30-mile bike ride on top of all the running I had done earlier in the week was exacting its toll. I could only manage a shuffle and was unenthusiastic about going downhill. And then there was Russell. At least I think his name is Russell.

Russell was part of the very chatty group that had passed me going downhill and with whom I had been trading places along the southern section of the course. They got separated from each other with the guys forging ahead. And then, from behind I heard "RUSSELL!!!" And then from ahead "Yeah! I am here!" This went on periodically and, well, I was kinda grumpy and didn't want to hear this and all the other chatting going on. The group eventually passed me but I never lost sight of them OR was out of hearing range. Pretty odd experience for me as I am usually out in the woods by myself, even during races.

In retrospect I probably could have used more food at this point. :-P

I knew I would finish but was a little surprised a how done-in I felt and was worried about what would happen during the remainder of the race.

"Russell!?" "I'm HERE!!!"

(Actually, this was kind of sweet.)

A Very Strong Finish:

(but first we have to get there)

My spirits improved and my zing returned by the time we reached Far Country (about 8.47 miles). Last year this is about the point where I stubbed my toe that I hobbled myself for a month. No problems this time around and I had fun bombing the downhill towards the De Leo Wall (the dreaded De Leo Wall)—such an interesting trail. It starts on an uphill and is actually a series of uphills with a very steep section around 9.53 miles. Really steep.

I caught one of the Russell Posse before the Wall and he seemed thwacked. We exchanged pleasantries as I went past. Then, out of nowhere, a woman wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants came flying past me on a downhill and blasted an uphill. Then she blew up and I passed her again (I last saw her on Coyote Creek and then didn't see her again until the finish). There was a guy walking his two dogs going up the Wall too and I got to run with them for a bit. Another couple were chatting along around me at this point as well. I just kept going at what I thought was a consistent effort and stopped at the 10-mile Aid Station for a Electrolyte Tab and a glass of water. Got asked if I had gotten stung. Nope, but I immediately thought of PT and hoped she hadn't had a repeat of her experiences during the 10-miler (No such luck. She did get stung, twice, sigh!).

Marshall's Hills Trail was a fun descent and I began to reflect on how fast this whole race was going (at this point last year it felt like I was barely moving). What was left of Russell's Posse was ahead of me as we turned onto Quarry Trail, the last challenge of this course. Quarry is just about a mile of really steep climbing in what is, in places, simply a steep, slippery, rocky chute. I was walking, simply walking, maintaining contact with the people ahead. Another runner was behind me, walking very heavily and sounding pretty done-in. I think he could have passed me had he had the omph but he didn't and contented himself with walking behind me. This walk went so fast and soon I was running the final .7 or so on Fred's Railroad. I was so happy to be carrying my running pack with drinking bladder.

I felt strong and getting stronger the closer I came to the finish line. In fact I started thinking about what I wanted to run tomorrow. I passed one guy who was shuffling along and leaning hard to the right. He looked hurt. I asked him if he was alright and he said "I'm OK. I am just done." I asked if he needed any food and he declined saying he had Nuum in his water bottle (Uh, Nuum is just electrolytes, it is not food!) Pushed harder when I made the turn off of Fred's Railroad onto Bypass (a XC team was out there with water and lots of encouragement and I thanked them as I went past).

The race ended quickly with me going fairly fast down Bypass and then Old Man's, though not as fast as I have in the past, not a lot of get-up-and-go for even a short up-hill. I did pour it on once I got to Old Man, passing the Chatting Couple and then blowing past one of Russell's Posse. Then I was right on Russell's tail as he entered the final sprint to the finish line. I caught him and crossed the line just a shade behind him (I wonder how many hundredths of a second this was)—2:48.xx I think. Thought I had a grimace on my face but (according to PT) I had a big smile and I guess I did, the whole crowd was cheering as we came in. It was so nice to have a little extra in the tank. Brilliant finish!

Ahh. That watermelon tasted ever so good and I was eventually able to bend enough to stretch.

It was great!

I am still tired but not nearly as beaten up and down as I was last year.

Good Show!

What's next?

Tomorrow, easy recovery. Nine weeks until Portland. Lots of Long Slow Distance ahead of me, punctuated with speed work. And summer isn't over . . . yet!

At some point I want to get out to Wellington on the Iron Goat Trail (some historical things to see) and I am dying to run the Kendall Katwalk. Spider Meadow in a couple of weeks. Tofino? How about the Lone Cone Challenge or following the Edge to Edge course?

Any takers?

Addendum (8/10/09)-Russell doesn't seem to exist. :-P


PuddleThumper said...

I didn't say you couldn't compare the runs, you just can't compare straight times. Silly. (still rolling my eyes)

Great job sticking with it through the fade and finishing so strongly.

iron goat is 9/5 unless you are out of town...

rpd said...

Doh! Tofino or Iron Goat? :-)