Friday, November 13, 2009


With a week to go before CIM, I broke myself playing with the kids on a trampoline over thanksgiving. As such, the racing year ended with kind of a thud rather than a bang. I haven't quite wrapped my head around my feelings about this: I was entering CIM with a lot of ambivalence, knowing that I wasn't as fit as I could be to do the race. On the other hand, not being able to excercise for a couple weeks has not been the greatest thing for me, as I find myself a little lost without the routine of a long workout on the weekend. I love the extra time, but since endurance training has really become my "hobby" along with a chance to see some friends, I've noticed the void. On top of that, I launched myself into the non-excercise regime and have quickly gained five pounds in two weeks... holidays, eh?

That said, my back is on the mend and my mind is racing with ideas for goals in the coming year. There are a lot of options, and I need to think it through and focus. The short list includes:

1) Spring marathon, fall event (half iron or marathon)
2) Spring triathlon, fall event (half-iron or marathon)
3) two marathongs
4) more short races and more trail runs
5) cycling centuries

So, we'll see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Soft Hardware: 2nd place at Troy's Trail Runs Quicksilver 20.8 Miler

Choose the right races and you may end up on the podium! Yesterday I had an 18+ mile training run on my schedule, so I decided to jump into the "Troy's Trail Run Quicksilver Challenge" 20.8 mile trail run.

My goal for the day was to spend a long time on my feet (accomplished) and the idea of a supported run through Quicksilver was strangely appealing. It was a last minute decision, so I had no time to research the race or get nervous, I just showed up, paid my $45 and shoved off.

In short, the run was a lot of fun. The course started from the Mockingbird entrance, which I've never run before, and I was stunned to find a 15% grade for the first mile. I took it slow, "ultra-walking" up the path with the knowledge that the course would level out at the top. Once I got past that first hill though it was a really glorious run for about the next 10 miles. As you can see from the map, the organizer strung together nearly 21 miles with very little overlap on the trails. In addition, the run was well supported, with at least 5 stocked aid stations with GU, coke, nuts, and other snacks and sports drinks.

The field stretched out and I had no idea how I was doing relatively, but I was enjoying some scenic running and a great playlist on the iPod, and for a while the miles clicked off. When I pulled into the mile 10 aid station, I was surprised to hear that I was the first 20.8 runner through (the folks in front of me were apparently all running the 8 or 13 mile courses) and with that inspiration I started focusing a bit more. Towards the end of the race the climbs and downhills were starting to hurt, but I had not been passed and from the last aid station home I ran pretty strongly along a flat to mild downhill path.

I finished to a smattering of applause from the race support crew, but alas they told me I was the second finisher, not the first. Ah well, the podium is the podium and I will treasure my red ribbon for a very long time, or until I lose it, whichever comes first.

Overall I covered the 21 miles in ~ 4:37 which is probably 1:40 or so longer than a 20 mile training run would've lasted, so it's clear how the hills impact a runner like me. But hopefully it's good strength training for the rolling downhill course at CIM.

The course itself was great: there was a lot of single-track, some technically challenging running, and enough fire roads to let me run uninhibited for long distances. It's tough to get into a rhythm when trail running, but there is sure a lot more to distract me from thinking about my tired legs all the time.