Run at the Rock
December 5th, 2009
14 Mile Trail Run
It wasn’t colder than last year, but it sure felt like it. Standing on the start line getting ready for the race to start, I was still having a hard time figuring out what I was going to wear.
Last year, I wore too much and ended up feeling like I would spontaneously combust. This year I was wearing compression tights, a wicking shirt and my short-sleeve Sugoi custom TrySports jersey. I opted out of the long-sleeve I wore last year and instead decided to give some Sugoi arm warmers a shot. Usually used in cycling, the arm warmers allowed me the warmth of a long sleeve but the convenience to pull them off if I got too warm. I knew that if I wore a long sleeve shirt, that I’d have to stop in order to take it off. I had plans on trying to place in my age group, so stopping was not an option.
I was also trying to decide whether to wear gloves or not. I had a sweet pair of Mizuno Breath Thermo gloves on. If you haven’t tried these things, you’re missing out. They turn body moisture to heat. I have used them for the past two years and extensively in training. However, I was opting whether to take them on the run or not. The primary reason: feeding. Since there is no grip on the gloves (my only dislike), I’d have a hard time opening GU gels, my primary fuel source. I decided at the last minute to take them off. I wrapped them up in my sweatshirt along with my Sugoi tuke (opted for my white GU cap instead) and dropped them by a tree at the start line.
Getting ready to start, I quickly reflected on the training leading up to the event. I had a few ITB and hip issues, but I wasn’t sure if it was the running or some other reason (swimming or biking). Alba had gone out on quite a few of my training runs and I was eager to see how she would do on her very first trail race. Although in EXCELLENT physical shape, she still considers herself a beginner runner. Also in the pack were friends Jim, Dirk and Amy. Along with Alba, they would all were running the 7 mile option while I was running the 14.
It was raining on and off during the start as we ran down the park road towards the trailhead. I stayed with the lead pack to get as far ahead from everyone as possible to prevent any stop-n-go traffic when we funneled into the narrow trail.
As we dove into the field that led to the single track, we quickly got a preview of how muddy the trail would be. We stepped through puddles of mud and grass that was well over ankle-depth and had the consistency that was perfect for removing your shoes for you.
Once on the single-track, the trail wasn’t much different. It seemed as if the first 4 miles or so was just a complete mud-fest. Most folks seemed to be attempting to go around the mud. I was too, but not from a reduce getting muddy, but instead trying to find the quickest line that would give me the most traction.
After the first section of singletrack, we crossed back over the park road and ran along a field and neighborhood. The lead pack was still pretty thick and it was difficult for me to figure out who was only running 7 miles and who was running 14. This made it hard to pace and I kept telling myself to run my own race with my own time goal. Trying to keep up with the folks only running 7 miles (and thus a faster pace) would be my undoing.
Most of the wooden bridges were slicker than snot. I had to be careful and almost walk most of the wooden bridges. The only one that was “runnable” was the long concrete bridge right before a waterstop. This is where I noticed a slight course change from last year. They had rerouted us, for what I assume, was to avoid two-way traffic near the finish line. It was a welcomed change as it also took out a pretty steep climb/ascent, although it didn’t reduce mileage.
The creek crossings were another challenge. Last year, we tried to avoid getting our shoes completely soaked, so we would try out best to jump over the creeks. At the first creek crossing, I did the same as last year. At the second creek crossing, I had came upon Anthony Corriveau. Since I was right behind him, I was kind of following his line while making sure that it was the one I would have chosen. I got so caught up in following his line that when he stepped right smack-dab in the middle of the creek, so did I. I commented to him about how he had just plowed through the creek and I guess with our shoes already completely soaked, that it didn’t matter. It was definitely faster to just go through the water than it was to slow down to find a good line without breaking your ankle. Besides, you could wash some of the mud off of your shoes in the process.
After the first lap, the lead pack thinned quite a bit. That meant that the majority of them only ran the 7 mile race. Running back up the park road for the second time, I could see competition. Two of the guys that I was catching up to were in their mid-20’s. Anthony Corriveau, who was in my age group, had about a 400 meter lead on me. We had leap-frogged through the muddy part for the first 3 miles, but on the back-half of the first lap, where the course smoothed out, he had increased the distance between us. I hatched a plan to catch him in the muddy, technical section, which at this point, made up miles 8-11.
The plan worked well because I caught up with him at about mile 9. I passed him through one of the muddy uphills and picked up my pace/effort the best that I could to increase the distance between us. It wasn’t long before I was out of sight from him through the switchbacks. At a little over mile 12, he passed me back. Leading into the last mile of the course, I was trying my best to keep up with him.
Even though I know the bridges are slick, I ended up busting my butt on one in the last mile. Trying to keep up with Anthony, I firmly planted my left foot in the middle of a small bridge, while trying to turn to the left (the bridge was in a turn). Doing so caused me to slip and come slamming down on the bridge with my left knee and hip. Trying to shake it off, I ran up the hill to try catch the guys in front of me.
Anthony was just a faster runner than me in the non-technical, non-muddy sections and I couldn’t catch him. Congrats on a first place age group finish, Anthony!
I came in second in our age group and 8th overall (out of 135 runners) (total 495 runners including the 7 milers).
BIG, HUGE congrats to my wife, Alba for finishing her first trail race, ever!! I am EXTREMELY proud of her!