I learned something about myself about 14 miles into the Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 mile race this last weekend. I get too exited when I road turns to trail.
Heading into this race I was nervous about the distance and the speed. I had two 17 mile long runs under my belt, but both were over pace, and this course promised to be fast. I was very worried about going out too hard and suffering for a majority of the remaining 19.5 miles.
For once I followed my race plan and went out controlled and comfortable. I found myself in the front group but when the top 7 pulled away I didn't press to join them since we were still in the early miles. The first 3 miles were on wide dirt roads that were made for fast running, but there was nothing really exciting about it. I was able to stay calm and relaxed in this section and was feeling proud of myself for sticking to my race plan.
|photo by Gavin Boughner|
Then we hit the trail. We made a right turn off the road onto the Peterson Ridge Trail and I immediately started moving up. I figured I would just steadily increase and hope my increasing pace would help me catch a few guys who went out too hot and were drifting back. I caught one guy right away and could just see another winding up a hill. My steady increase apparently turned into a surge at this point and I was racing.
I caught 6th place right around the first aid station and went through the station without taking any nutrition. Shortly after that I started working my way up to the next guy. The trail through here was mostly a gradual incline and quite serpentine. It was actually really fun to run, but even more fun to run faster so I kept unintentionally picking it up (at least that's what Garmin told me).
I caught 5th place before the aid station at mile 8.something and opted to run with him. I figured pacing off the guy who had run the race multiple times before, was shooting for the same goal pace, and had made a couple US National Trail teams would be the responsible thing to do, especially still early in the race, but instead I went by him after a few minutes and continued pressing. Wrong decision.
After the next aid station I caught a glimpse of 4th place and he looked to be hurting, so I picked it up even more. By this point we were on Peterson Ridge and had a few unobstructed views of Black Butte (of porter fame) and various snow covered Cascades. I didn't really look at them though since I was racing, although I probably should have slowed a little and enjoyed the scenery.
Instead I moved into 4th place and tried to pull away. My hat catching on a tree branch allowed my pursuer to regain contact so I felt the need to keep edging up the pace. By this point we were headed back downhill towards the next aid station. At the 11ish mile mark the guy behind me crashed and I figured I had it made (I did ask if he was ok). I had hoped he was on the ropes trying to hang with me so the gap after falling would be killer. I got around the corner and eased off the accelerator enough to finish taking my first gel.
I arrived at the 12 mile aid station just as the guy behind me caught back up (doh). A splash of water and I was on my way again and descending faster now to get off the ridge. I could feel the beginnings of fatigue and didn't want to throw in any drastic moves so I let the guy sit on me a bit (who turned out to be a 17 year old ultra stud). I say "let" like I had a choice, but I started feeling the effort more and more in this section and it was all I could do to hold pace.
Fairly soon I heard the breathing of the US trail guy closing on us and I knew I something bad was about to happen. The two of them went by me, knocking me back to 6th, and at the same time the wheels came off the Forrest train. I think I was somewhere around mile 13 or 14 at this point and looking at a long 5+ miles to go.
I took the next short climb really slow, as it was my only option, but then tried to get back into a rhythm. I was in a full on pain cave at this point and just wanted to make it to the next aid station. I planned on taking time to grab a full gel, hydrate, and maybe eat a sandwich, but when I crawled in the volunteers were so great at getting me fluids and kicking me out that I could still see the next two when I left.
We hit the dirt road and I knew I was going to at least finish. Two other guys went by me, but I tried to fight back. I pulled out every mental trick in my bag of mental tricks and managed to just hang on. Fortunately one of the guys was hurting worse than me and I was able to reclaim a spot by the finish.
|photo by Gavin Boughner|
The finish loops once around a track at the Sisters Middle School and when I got on the track there were three people on it in front of me. I had managed to hang in there enough to stay within 1/4 mile of the guys that passed me, but had nothing to try and close.
I stutter stepped the hurdle 20 yards from the end and made it across the finish with just enough energy to get over to the table full of brownies and peanut butter chocolate things.
Overall I was pleased with the race. I wanted to place higher, but I ran faster than I was expecting and was able to mentally compete. Even when I fell apart I didn't fall off too hard compared to some of my past races. A few more long runs and actually doing workouts should fix that.
Big lesson: pay attention to pace when shifting from dirt road to trail. The fun factor for me overrides the effort-meter until it's too late.
Big lesson (alternative): Train more so I can actually race hard for 20 miles on trails like my mind wants to!
The race itself was a blast. Sean Meissner does a great job putting it on and it's a great laid-back atmosphere for still being a decent sized race. I'll definitely be back to this event.
Sara also ran the 20 mile race and crushed it. It was her longest race, and longest run, by at least 5 miles. So it was a big day for her but she ran comfortable the whole time and is ready for more. We'll put up a post soon on our blog at cdthike.blogspot.com with details of her race and the rest of our Bend adventures.
Next up for me is a solid training block with a 12k in Helena in May (Don't Fence Me In) and the Double Dip in Missoula in June. Looking for big miles and big workouts until the Sky series starts for me in Silverton in June!
Until next time,