Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wah Hoo! (or, back to trail racing)

It sure has been a while since I've been out racing on trails.  My Oh My, what I did today sure felt wonderful.

Lord Hill 10-Mile Trail Race put on by Evergreen Trail Runs was a wholly new experience and I smiled the entire way through.

We lucked out.

The weather forecast called for rain and snow showers with wind. This on top of the rain, "snow-ish," and flooding of the past week promised to make this race a cold, long, slog. Driving up to Snohomish from Seattle we went through a rather ominous band of snow/ice showers that had us (AK, Sj, KK, and KJ-S) a bit worried. But, come what may. It is, after all, a trail race and, for Ke and KJ-S, their very first one.

This is my second event put on by Evergreen Trail Runs (last year's Grand Ridge was a blast) so I knew to expect a challenging and exciting course. I was not disappointed.


We were off a bit late and immediately had a stream crossing to contend with and then climbing up to "Old Lord Hill" (that is a polite way of describing it). The rains and previous foot traffic had made the track a slick mess. Roughly 600 feet of climbing in the first 1.74 miles. 

What a cool way to start off a race!

I, like most everyone else around me, just walked as fast as I could careful of maintaining footing and being very happy to be wearing my Innov8's rather than my Brooks for this (the Innov8's are better in the mud for me but have less support and cushion). Glenn Tachiyama (GT) was at the top of the hill taking pictures. He always manages to be at the best places in every course (Chin Scraper anyone?) and today, as I was leaning so far forward, I think he got a picture of the top of my head.

Climbing made me hot and I removed my hat, gloves, and unzipped my running jumper. Blue skies were beginning to break through burning away the low fog. It was pretty.

Just past GT (I think) the ten-mile course cut away and we hit some of the prettiest single track I've been on in a long time. Technical, slippery, and in the trees. But the sun was coming through and it felt so warm on my face and hands. I was just thinking, "Wow!"

I stepped off to let a bunch of people pass and to wipe off my glasses. They fog very badly which is not such a great thing to have happen on trails like this. Either that or one lens fogs and the other stays clear which messes up my depth perception. I have to slow down but on this trail I really wanted to go faster.

Pretty soon KJ-S caught up with me and we ran together for a while on the single track and then on to the fire road that would take us to the aid station. As we were going I heard "Smile Robin!" and looked up to see AK standing at the top of a hill taking my picture. We stopped for a group photo and continued on to the aid station. There were these really cool (and slightly slippery) wooden plank bridges to contend with.

Aid station was pretty nice. I had gotten really hungry at about 2.8 miles and had started eating on my Gu Chomps at that time so I figured to take advantage of the food at the aid station. A couple of pretzels (Salt! Yum!) and some Coke perked me up. Off I went, chasing KJ-S who had left before me.

That was when really fast long-haired blonde guy went past me for the second time (the first was when I was beginning my initial descent from the big hill). Man was he moving! Must have been running the 50K and I think he was in the lead.

More fire road and then onto some pretty messy single track. Messy because of the mud and downed trees and very chewed up logs that were also bridges. Twisting and turning. So much fun.

I had been running on my own but started to catch people at this point (I was also being passed). The best thing I heard all day was one person saying to another "You said that this would be easier than running 5 miles on the road!" after which the two basically split up with the say dropping way behind.

More fire road and then more single track, most of it in the sun, and before I knew it I was confronting the back side of the big hill of the initial climb. Looking up I can see KJ-S at the top, a little dot of purple before she disappeared over the summit. I started climbing and was about half-way up when " really fast long-haired blonde guy" came flying down the hill saying "Good Job!" as he went past. It is really funny to "get to know" people in this way. He was starting his third lap and I was just finishing my first (and only) and had been already running for two hours.

GT was at the top taking more pictures, hoping not of the top of my head again, and I stopped to chat with him before heading down.

Instead of sliding down Lord Hill we cut off to another incredibly pretty single track (very wet too) and dropped gently down the steep road that led to the finish.

I was tired and just trotting along. One of the ETR employees was at the intersection of the road and the single track and took another picture and said "It is all down hill from here!" Off I went, wishing I could run a little more easily on the down hills instead of the kind of stiff, high shouldered stance I seem to have developed of late. Bad technique.

KK was at the bottom of the hill taking pictures. He has a nice series of shots of me coming down and I can see how scrunched up my form is (something to analyze and work on). The best (or worst) is of me turning the corner towards the finish chute. My belly is making the turn first. :-P  (Something to work on.)

Into the chutes, lots of congrats and smiles, a nice chat with the timers, something to drink, and a small piece of pizza (KK said "They have pizza!" in the most amusing manner.)

A woman was sampling "Mamma Chia" drinks and I tasted some. Told her that I had been making my own a while back and this tasted pretty good (not too sweet actually). She took my picture and said it might end up on the website. We'll see. I got a free bottle though which I shall save for a special occasion.

Lunch at Maltby Cafe.

All in all, a wonderful day. The sun is shining, still. And the Oscars are coming on.

What's next?

I don't know. Pre-Triathlon season training now so I've been spending time on the trainer (riding and swimming in addition to running). We'll see.

Now, what's for dinner?

For now it is nice to be healthy.

1 comment:

GVB said...

Good report man! Hoping for better weather at Chuckanut next month...