Sunday, July 10, 2011

SCOTT Cougar Mountain Trail Series - 10 miles

July 09, 2011 ~ Race #3 ~ 10 miles
This week began with no intentions of racing, or even the notion of a race being in the near future. It's common practice to race a good number of varying distances through-out the year, however, it's physiological more appropriate to truly race only two, maybe three -maybe-, races a year. The year, or the training period, should have three types of races: 'A','B', and 'C' races; appropriately scattered between day one of training and race day. -Yes, on a side note and in the wake of the recent Oxford comma drama, I do use and encourage the use of the Oxford comma. AP style needs to get with the program.- These types of guidelines don't mean that you can't enter more races than two, but to ensure the highest caliber of performance for yourself you need to use the 'B' and 'C' races as workouts, fitness gauges, runs to break-up the monotony of training, and/or as motivational tools. You don't need to have an all-out performance, but you don't need to walk either. I generally pick a couple of 'C' races and one 'B' race through-out the season and each race will have a different focus. For instance, during last season I ran the Sweetwater Half-Marathon as a way to get to know the course for the upcoming 50k at the same state park. Unfortunately, it turned out to be my only race of the season courtesy an Achilles injury. C'est la course √† pied. (literal translation: racing on foot) 

This Saturday's (July 09, 2011) race was no different in terms of running with a focus, 'hammer the Wilderness Creek Tr. and Deceiver Tr. section'. With the 'hammer' section sandwiched between mile 4 and mile 8, I planned to spend miles 1 -4 relaxed and in the back, and miles 8 - 10 relaxed, but with a consistent up-tempo pace. After a brief introduction about the race from race director, Eric Bone, covering flag/marker colors, turns, cut-off times, etc., we lined up at the start line.  Race start time was set for 9:00 AM, and we more-or-less started on time. The weather was, well, it was perfect: 58°F and low humidity, and by race end, for me, the temperature had only risen to 60°F. Temperate, doable weather it just something I'm really not used to in July. In Georgia, same race start time, it was 78°F and 81% humidity. By the end of the race, in Georgia, for me, it would have been 90°F. -I'll cordially pass.- 

Everyone situated themselves behind the starting line, two bright orange road cones, in their pre-race, self-chosen, starting spots. Garmin 'beeps' became louder than the mid-summer chirping birds as the runners synced their chest worn heart-rate monitors with their GPS-enabled watches. Eric stood proudly about 10 yards ahead of the pack and gave out last minute updates. The anxious chatter slowed to a dull roar, the nerves settled to a focus, and the front-of-the-pack racers were leaning motionlessly forward, as if bronzed statues, their finger tips resting on the start buttons of their watches, their eyes focused two feet in front of them on the long somewhat manicured grassy field before us. The middle-of-the-pack was full of runners that longed to be lined-up in the front, their outfits mirroring the elites, from hats to shoes, but their bodies showing a different type of commitment to training. Bringing up the tail-end of the group of 200+ runners were the beginners, too nervous to get mixed up with the soon to be onslaught of jostling arms and legs of the first two miles on the single-track course. Occasionally scattered through-out the loosely defined groups were the rogue runners, content to allow the race sort itself out over the course and not worry about position, or watch accuracy, or that they wear cotton in a time of synthetic fabrics. Some of them were once elite, others run because they're not elite, and some run to search for themselves as they become lost and separated from every day life. To be honest, when the dust settles I've only been in one other group that brings a more varied group of individuals together with one purpose, and that group required camouflage, plus a minimum four year commitment. The race was started and we were off.

After a short loop -and by short I mean about a 1/5 mi.- around a grassy meadow we headed off into the woods. The trail was one lane and well lined with overgrown plants. Occasionally the turns offered a wider gap and allowed a quick, sprint-like pass. I started near the back of the pack to keep my amp'd-up adrenaline from getting to me and causing me to run too fast, too soon, and for too long. After all, this is a 'C' race for me, so I didn't want to be too exhausted post-race for the upcoming week's training. After a couple of easy miles and some nice chats with some other runners, maybe three, it was time for the hills and the tempo section. I don't think I've ever run down a hill quite that fast. The turns came up fast enough that there were plenty of close calls on the steep switchback terrain, but courtesy the risk I passed about ten racers and moved up into the top 25, by my best guess. I wouldn't really know until I finished the race. Seriously, the risk I took on the downhill came to the tune of: It  usually, during training, takes me about 23 minutes to descend safely. It took me about 9 minutes during the race. My legs felt so incredibly fatigued, but I felt really confident about how my training has been going. Of course, after any downhill there's an uphill. This one, conveniently has about 600 ft. of gain in about a mile. I really anticipated running very well to the top, but due to my "lets throw caution to the wind" descent my legs were shot and wound up just holding on to a steady pace, which gave way to passing three more runners on the ascent. Not too shabby. The next couple miles involved me running easy until I caught a glimpse of someone ahead of me and then working to pass and put space in-between. By the end of the race I finished 18th overall, and in 1:31:06. 15 minutes ahead of my planned time.

Finishing thought: The back-of-the-pack start enabled me to stay fresh. The voice of G.Songer in my head on the downhill section repeating, "Trey, you have to learn to run downhill," enabled me to literally be greeted by multiple runners after the race saying, "did you have a late start?", "how do you run downhill so fast?", and my favorite, "that kind of speed is just too dangerous." And, in closing, my racing mentality slowly began to trickle to my legs as I started to pick runners off on the flats. 

SCOTT Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series - 10 mile course
Here's the weekly training details:
Weekly Totals ~ Distance: 30.16 mi. Time: 5:01:16 Vertical: 4,668 ft.

Monday, July 04 ~ Tiger Mountain
Distance: 10.27 mi.
Time: 1:45:31
Vertical: 2,021 ft.
Max and I headed up Tiger Mountain and through some over-growth and finished with a quick clip on the road back to the car (6:30ish mi/min pace).

Tuesday, July 05 ~ Cougar Mountain
Distance: 5.20 mi.
Time: 1:02:33
Vertical: 911 ft.

Headed on a recovery run with Laura Kay (her weekly long run) around the mountain playground in our backyard. She's doing well with her training build-up.

Wednesday, July 06 ~ Hazen High School Track
Distance: 5.09 mi.
Time: 0:42:05
Vertical: 53 ft.

Decided to take a break from the hills and head out on the track for a good 800m workout. I didn't really have a plan going into the workout, just that I wanted to run some 800's. I decided on 5 X 800 w/ 1:30 Rest. Here are the splits: 1) 0:03:35, 2) 0:02:57, 3) 0:02:58, 4) 0:03:04, 5) 0:03:08.
Thursday, July 07 ~ Off day
Distance: n/a
Time: n/a
Vertical: n/a

Friday, July 08 ~ Off day
Distance: n/a
Time: n/a
Vertical: n/a

Saturday, July 09 ~ SCOTT Cougar Mountain Trail Run Series 10 mile Race
Distance: 9.60 mi.
Time: 1:31.06
Vertical: 1,683 ft.

See above.

Also, which elevation profile do you guys like better: light green or green and blue striped? Leave a comment and let me know.