Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away
Well, my XC race this morning was not at all that bad. In fact it was really quite fun and something of an experience. A 3000 Meter mud-fest.
It has been raining quite heavily this past week (especially yesterday) and the ground is just sodden. But it has also been pleasantly warm (we've been experiencing March weather in January while the rest of the country is in the deep freeze).
I ran the two or so miles out to Magnuson and the race start at a rather easy pace along the Burke Gilman trail. It was threatening to rain. I was hoping that it would hold off until the race was over when I would be comfortably ensconced in PT's car on my way home. It was chilly but otherwise calm and quiet. Saw only a few people out at least until I got down into the park itself, when more and more carloads of runners started showing up.
Finishing my warm-up found M and her friend. We discussed the course which we could see was very much on the mucky side. M decided to go and exchange her shoes for spikes. I wandered around a bit and then saw PT finishing her warm up (big smile on her face too). Heard the BANG of a starter's pistol announcing that we had 10-minutes remaining before the start.
Boy was the start area wet. It was easy to sink a half to a whole inch into the ground just standing and waiting. The RD came to make his pre-race announcements and waved his pistol around as he did so (don't ask why this particular little detail stuck with me although I expect that someone waving the business end of a gun at you would get your attention even if only a starter's pistol). This course was longer (than last years) and slightly different due to the ongoing construction to bring electricity back to the shore area. His description was complicated and I didn't really get it. No matter, I'd just follow the crowd. I mentioned that someone was going to go kersplat in one of the puddles. M responded that, now that I had mentioned it, it would probably be me. :-P
Then, BANG, and we were off. A rush of slips, slides, and yelps as runners sought to avoid puddles or were shocked at the wet. Pretty funny. I felt really calm as we started and even had a smile on face (the more mud the better). As the speed picked up I could feel all my energy draining away within the first 25 yards or so, felt very strange. But as we cleared the first "hill" and transitioning to the Fins area my strength started coming back and I just kept going. Behind me were two HS girls who were just sort of joking along. They passed me just before the fins and then I passed them going up Kite Hill. At that point they decided that maybe they should take things a little more seriously (perhaps the thought of getting beaten by a large lumbering guy was too much) and they both cranked it up. One just flew away. The other moved in front of me and stayed there until I passed her again as she stopped and looked back for someone else). "Kum and Go" guy (a very tall man wearing a "Kum and Go" T-shirt) went flying up the hill past us all and then just started trotting. I thought "What was that all about?" [And, yes, his shirt is not obscene. It refers to a gas station chain in the Midwest.]
It was really slippery and midway through the first loop I could feel the toll that this was taking on my legs and hips as they contended with the not-so-firm footing and all the lateral movement as my feet slid. My shoes, the Innov8's, proved to be incredibly grippy all things considered and I began trusting them more and more as I went tightly around the curves. Behind me, I heard the very wet sounds of someone else going kersplat in a puddle (but not me).
The second loop was challenging but also felt better as I knew what to expect and was very much warmed up. I spotted the guy who finished just in front of me during the last race and decided that I had to catch and pass him. It took some doing but I finally did at the base of Kite Hill and then he just disappeared. I think this is the first time I was able to beat him (couldn't do it during last year's series). It felt really good to do so but I have a feeling that he was having a bad day. Hope he is OK. In the middle of all of this the sun made an appearance, its welcome light changing the way the course looked (indeed the whole park).
The finish was interesting. We had to run up a slight rise through all kinds of churned up mud and standing water. 25 yards away and I kicked it up a notch. Then I heard someone coming up fast behind me and I put everything I had into an all-out sprint to the finish. People were yelling (for me? for him? I don't know). I held off the challenge and crossed the line in 16:40 with ragged lungs and in 117th place. Right behind Phy (who was complaining "What happened?!" as we stood in line to submit our place tags). Someone else was complaining about having mud in her teeth. Was this the person who fell or had they been following someone else a bit too closely?
Short cool down run in which I ran into PT. We washed our shoes in a deep puddle and squish, squished squished our way back to the records area so she could turn her card in as well and grab some food. Half a bagel and two cups of water later I was deposited at my doorstep. OOOFFF! That is when I felt all the mud stress.
What a fantastic race and, though exhausted, I've still a smile on my face 8 hours after. Second loop was faster than the first and I finished very strongly. My first race of 2010.
Miles for the day? 5.42
Tomorrow I'll do a slow 10-miler as per the Higdon Plan. 33 miles for the week.
33 miles and I am feeling strong. :-)