One of my first images of trail running was an LL Bean ad that showed a runner in a zipped up hoodie running through a forest in a light drizzle. When I saw that I thought to myself "yeah I want to do that one day". Well I feel like I've been living that ad over and over again this year. Except for those three weeks in January where we had summer like temperatures we have had a lot of rain, rain and more rain. We may finally catch a break this coming Sunday.
Last weekend I was signed up to run the 30k race at PCTR's Pirates Cove. The plan then was to run those 18+ miles at race pace then running another 20+ miles on Sunday at a slower pace. However I decided a couple of days before the event that because the weather was going to be bad I would just do the bulk of my mileage on Saturday so I had less to run on Sunday. This was the main reason why I moved up to the 50k distance on race day.
The weather was as predicted and the trail conditions quite sloppy but I felt great. I mean from the first mile I felt really good and this lasted all the way to the finish. Pirates Cove is an uphill start and those that know me know I suck at those but I was just fine. I was running so well I pulled back on the throttle fearing that I was going out too fast. About an hour into the race, as it usually happens, I switched into my "endurance gear", that state of being where I feel I can run strong for a very long time. This was where it got really fun, we were on a very muddy and slippery fire road going downhill and I just bombed the heck out of it I was feeling so good. There were a couple of times where I slid around the corners with arms pinwheeling in the air but thankfully I never went down. At about 16 miles into the race I stopped getting passed and I just tried to hold on and chase after as many runners as I could on the way to the finish line. At the top of the last climb, about mile 25, I looked back and saw a runner charging hard. He had made great time up the hill, I know because I had looked back halfway up and didn't see him, now all of a sudden there he was. He was tall, wore all black except for a white cap which made him easy to spot. Seeing him close on me put extra energy on my legs. I already knew he was faster on the uphills so I ran hard hoping to keep him away on the rolling terrain of the ridge. Well I did manage to keep him from closing the gap but he was still there, white cap just visible on some of the turns. On the last downhill I poured it on confident that I was faster on the downhill, nope no dice there either. At the bottom I spotted him on the switchback just above me. The last flat 2 miles to the finish was just an all out haul, whatever was left. I really thought I was going to get caught. I didn't relax until I was 400 yards from the finish. I crossed the finish line at 4:48:35 for 5th place. The guy right behind came in only a couple of minutes after I did. I thanked him for my great finish time and we spent a few minutes talking about the race.
I was 11 minutes off my PR for the course but considering the conditions I was happy. I was also more than satisfied with the way I managed the last 6 miles. Not this weekend but the next I am running the Lake Sonoma 50-Mile and I am less apprehensive about my chances of having a good race there now. The track workouts, the return to spin, the gym workouts and all the base building miles has gotten me in great shape. The other thing that really worked out for me was my nutrition plan which allowed me to run as well as I did. I ran pretty much on gels and water and I brought enough knowing there wouldn't be any at the aid stations.
Really good race, took an hour to warm up afterwards but all worth it! Sorry but no pictures this time, it was too wet!