It's all in the timing.
I wasn't too happy with the forecast for warm muggy conditions especially considering not having too much chance to acclimate this early in April. but you take what is given to you and make the best of it so after a brief pre-race meeting we all lined up for the 8am satrt with already 66F and 98% humidity. Just before the race I got a message from my friend Kara, Laura's sister, that she was going to come and run a few laps with me but at the last minute she decided to sign up for the race !
My plan was to go out easy the first lap and then see how I felt. The course was alternating between two laps of about 5.5 miles and 5.1 miles with an aid station set up at the start /finish area. Kara and I were going to try and stick together for the first lap and then see what happened,
The first lap was about like I expected and pretty much uneventful. We were drenched from the humidity by mile 2 and it was just going to get warmer. I was enjoying the lovely trails that I had run on so many years ago as well as the company and conversation and I was feeling pretty good overall. My right hip was doing a lot better too so I was hopeful it was not going to be a problem. About the 3 mile mark the course goes onto an out and back spur about .9ths of a mile down to the river and then back up so we were able to see all of the other runners at this early part of the race.
We made it back to the aid station in 1:03 and Kara took a break to make some adjustments to her hydration pack so I headed out onto lap two by myself. The next loop, the Campbell Creek Trail is where I used to do almost all of my training on back in the early 80's so I was looking forward to seeing it again.
It is hillier and rockier for a big portion than the first loop so although it was shorter it took a bit longer. My favorite part of the trail is a relatively flat section along the creek and I was still running well along there but I knew it was a long climb back up. My time was about 1:01 which sounded good but then I looked back in the archives and I used to run it in 44:30 on a normal day in 1983 !
By now the small field of about 60 starters was very spread out so I was not seeing too many others. It was getting warmer too. I stopped to take a picture and I was so sweaty it was hard handling my phone and I really didn't want to waste too much time. I decided then that I would be dropping off the shirt and waist pack at the end of the lap so no more pictures.
I made it back around to the out and back spur but was confused at the T intersection. On the first lap we just followed the other runners but now I wasn't sure which way to go and there was no directional sign. I remembered a left turn so I went left. Grrrrr, I soon found myself almost back to the parking lot. I debated going on and telling them I would do the spur twice the next time around but decided to go ahead and retrace my steps. I figured it cost me about 8 minutes so not a huge detour but 8 minutes more than I wanted to add to my race time. All 4 of the people I had passed that lap had passed me back but I was able to reel them all back in by the time I finished the lap in 1:13.
Overall I was only 7 minutes behind what I had as a goal for halfway so I was still close to what I wanted but it was getting hotter and pretty miserable out there. I headed back onto the Campbell Creek loop feeling ok but defintely getting tired and slowing. I almost made a big mistake mostly just from being tired. On the long downhill in the first mile of the loop on a very rocky section that you do not want to fall at, I stumbled and was out of control flailing around trying to regain my balance. Both upper hamstrings are rebelling and to make matters worse I am careening straight toward a big tree. Fortunately I regained control just in time and a minute later my angry glutes and hammies calm down again.
The remainder of the lap was uneventful but I was really getting tired and dreading the long climb back up. I was even considering calling it a day. I am really not used to the trails right now and combined with the heat and humidity I really didn't want to fall into a death march. Of course I didn't want to quit either and I needed the miles and experience and so I'm glad I didn't listened to those demons because I never really felt any worse after that and I took good care of myself and was still moving along at a decent pace. But that's getting a little ahead of the story ! I finished that lap in a slow 1:11, whined to the aid station workers about how tough it was and then went to my bag under the picnic shelter for another protein shake, which I had been doing each lap. I actually sat down for 30 seconds to drink it but popped back up not wanting to waste anytime.
Back out now on lap 5, the 3rd and last time for this part of the course. Each time I was wanting to take the short side trail to the overlook but didn't want to waste time. I got some encourageing words from a boy scout troop out for a hike that made me feel good. Finally made it to the spur and about halfway down I see Kara coming back up ! I'm thinking wait a minute ! How did she get in front of me? I didn't see her behind or in front of me on the spur at lap two so I had to have been well in front by nearly 2 miles. I went on down to the river and made the turn back up and Icaught up to her at the aid station which I reached in 1:22, my slowest lap of the race. It was 80F by now and I was looking forward to getting this over with.
Kara and I headed out on the final lap together and we figured out that somehow she had made a wrong turn on lap 2 doing an out and back following some other confused runner or two and then totally missed the real spur on lap 3 which explained why I didn't see her that lap.
Our pace was quite a bit slower now and we enjoyed some really nice conversation and learned a lot more about each other which was really nice. She is a wonderful young lady. We made it down to the creek and I stumbled over some roots but once again remained upright and a few minutes later she almost went head first into a ditch but caught herself and was able to land on her feet. A few minutes later she told me to go ahead but I said no we just have a little climb and then some more flat running so we walked a minute and then got her running again.
I was actually feeling pretty good now and smelling the barn as we ran along the creek. She once again started walking and told me to go ahead. and once again I said no, I'm not in a big hurry and we can finish this together. I walked until she caught up and then I convinced her to just run a little bit more and we would be back to the bridge and then we could walk the big climb back to the finish.
And soon enough there we were and before long we were back to the top and ran the final 1/4 mile o the end. Big hugs and then it was time to sit down and enjoy some food !! That last lap was 1:17 ad my final time was 7:08. I had hoped for about 6:30 but with the conditions that just wasn't going to happen.
Overall it was a very nice event with great volunteers. Other than the one confusing turn there was nothing but good things about the race and I would definitely recommend any of my trail running friends to check it out in the future.
For me I got to get in some great training, share some miles with friends and enjoy a great day with a bit of a confidence boost for the BIG One coming up in June.
Stay tuned !
Friday, April 17, 2015
Yes, now that the Boston Qualifying marathon is finally taken care of it is time to turn my attention back to ultrarunning for a few months. With Western States coming up in just 10 more weeks I need to focus on training for the long trails again.
A week after Wrightsville Beach I officially kicked of the training with my first time on single track trails since last June ! During the marathon training I wanted to stay off the trails needing the more specific workouts to achieve that goal on the road. Now that it is time to return to ultra trail running I need to make a few adjustments.
One thing that I have found over the past several years is that I do my best ultra's coming off of marathon training. All my pr's from 50k , 50 miles and 100 miles are proof of that. So with just a few adjustments that will focus on some specific skills needed for Western States. I will mainly continue with the training that has gotten me to this level of fitness but with the following changes.
First of course is returning to the single track once a week for short but fast efforts to get used to running over rocks and roots and climbing short steep hills. Every two or three weeks I will subsitute a long greenway run with a longer trail run with some run/walking practice.
I will be doing some occasional hill repeats including some long downhills to prepare for the pounding at Western States.
I have already added a weekly session on the stair master at the gym which played a huge role in keeping me fit during the injury last summer. and I am adding some fast walking on the treadmill at 15% grade also. And thats about it otherwise still doing some long runs on the greenway, still doing some tempo runs and lots of miles at marathon pace. 2 out of the last 3 weeks I have had amazing 10 and 8 mile runs with Laura Frey at marathon pr pace and faster while she is cutting back to get ready for Boston on Monday !
Which brings us back to Raven Rock. As part of my training I know I need some experience going ultra distance on the trails and the timing on this one was great to fit into my schedule. I am really looking forward to returning to the park. In the early 1980's I used to train on the trails there frequently while living in Fayetteville and Hope Mills. I logged hundreds of miles over several years but I have not been back there but once since then and that was over 15 years ago.
It is typical of trails in central NC with roots and rocks and short steep climbs and a few longer climbs as the trails go down by the Cape Fear river and then back up bluffs along the way. It is going to be great to run them once again.
When I signed up I was only looking to get in some training and have some fun but I am always a bit competitive and I have found a new inspiration to push it just a bit harder tomorrow !
It seems that on the ulltra signup entrants list they have us ranked with an estimated time of finish. Lets just say I don't quite understand the ranking system and was a bit perturbed to see myself ranked 26th of 54 ranked entrants. (there are another 19 or so unranked)
Looking at who they have ranked ahead of me I know I usually finish ahead of at least half of them and my pr's are faster than about the same and on top of that the predicted time is 7:57. I've run faster than that on a 34 mile mt race with 8,000ft of climb so I expect I am going to be a lot faster than that. We shall see but I am taking on the challenge of proving those rankings very wrong !
here is a link to the park website.
and here is a link to the race website.
Stay Tuned !