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.