August 18, 2012
On The Rocks Trail Run - 30k
It was a tough day! That about sums it up. This is the shortest race I have run since the same race a year ago. Last year at On The Rocks Trail Run I ran the 16.3 mile version. Since then I have run (3) 50k races and (1) 50 miler. This year they increased this event to a 30k. No problem right?
Last year I didn't take this event very serious. I added it at the last minute as a training run. I finished in 3:08 on a fairly technical course. I was very happy with it. This year, I knew they had added the needed distance to get the 30k. What I wasn't prepared for was that they reversed the direction of the course from last year.
Leading to the race, I was late. I am typically early for races - many times one of the first ones at a race. I had not given what time I needed to leave much thought. I left home on a beautiful morning and was excited to have a good race. I had to get there first though. I hit a detour and not knowing the area, I was a bit stressed. Finally I found my way there but displaced by 15 minutes. I arrived at 7:15 for a 7:30 race and had to walk a bit to get my bib and then back to the car. I briefly met Stacey on the way to get my bib (sorry Stacey I would have enjoyed talking more but I was late). Back to the car, changed my shirt, shoes and made the decision to wear the hydration pack vs. carrying nothing. This was at least one good decision I made today. Off we went. The 30k runs with the 15k except we would simply run the loop twice. We were humming along and apart from getting weirded out by running the course in reverse, all I could think of was "wow this course is rockier than I remembered". I really felt terrible the first 4 miles. I have no clue why I felt that way but I just pushed on. I found a runner that I thought was running a nice comfortable pace and followed her - I think I was either right behind her or in eye sight of her for 10 miles or so. This helped me. Towards the end of the first loop (where I knew we would dump a bunch of runners since most do the 15k) I was really feeling my left achilles which has been acting up over the last few weeks, I had been worried about this coming into this race but made the decision to run anyway and evaluate after how it was. It crossed my mind to stop at the 15k and call it a day but I am too stubborn for that.
The second loop started by following the same female runner. I don't know if she was annoyed by me or not but I would like to think I served as her guardian angel a couple of times. I saw her go down (hard by the looks) during the first loop. I asked if she was ok and she obviously was because she got up and kept chugging. On two occassions during the second loop, she started going off the course so I hollered at her. I suppose she would have realized it after a while but what was I supposed to do - let her get lost? About mile 15 I couldn't keep up with her anymore. This was sad because she was not going fast. She was very consistent though which kept me focused on being consistent. But at mile 15 (or so) I just felt miserable. My achilles was sore (mostly in my heel), my legs felt bad, feet felt torn up (thanks to the ridiculous amounts of rocks on this course). I felt sorry for myself and slogged along. A couple miles to the end and I was passed by a runner. This was the only runner who passed me from mile 4 to this point. That in and of itself was strange.
Finally I finshed - not in the 3:45 I predicted for myself or even under 4 hours which I had changed my prediction to mid race. I finished in 4:13 (after a 1:55 first loop) and 4th to last place (I believe the last three came in together no more than one minute after me). Now I believe there were about 30ish participants in the 30k. All in all, it just didn't feel right. I can't blame my achilles or lack of training runs on technical trails since Hyner in April but the bottom line is it just sucked! It's ok though. A bad day on the trails is still a good day overall.
All I can do is take some time off to heal and re-evaluate what I can do to improve. I have to do some strength training (something I have been telling myself for a while now - time to do it!) This I know is lacking and contributing to my little injuries. I have no right putting myself in longer races without being prepared. I get through them but it's not how I want to run them (anymore).
The great thing about trail running and running in general is how it is a challenge against myself and not anyone else. Despite not liking the place I cam in today, it wasn't about anyone else. It was about me. I can't control how anyone else does. In fact maybe they all had good days. But I can control how I prepare.
I will forgo the next race. I had hoped to run a 40 miler (Trails 4 Tails) in late September but at this point that would be beyond stupid. I will be my best to get healthy and be smart about whether I am ready for another 50 miler in November.