Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Scout Mountain 60K

After hearing positive reports, and wanting to support race director and all-around awesome person Luke Nelson, I signed up ran the Scout Mountain 60K.  I was able to put in a consistent two month block of training in advance of this early season race, consistently running 40 mile weeks on top of a steady diet of skiing on the weekends.

Climbing out of Mink Creek at 25K (photo: Gate City Sports)
Race day was decidedly average. I started off at the front of the pack, and even led the race for a few minutes in the meandering terrain of the first few miles.  I stuck to a moderate pace as the first climb steepened, and was decidedly passed by two guys (who would finish first and second). The racing itself was fairly uneventful, as I would not see anyone for the next 40K.  I pushed the first two dowhills a bit, rolling into the 20K aid at 2:30, just a few minutes before the 35K race started.  I settled into the long climb to Scout Mountain at a slow and sustainable pace, and was immediately passed by about twenty 35K racers. I held the pace all the way to the top. My left hamstrings had been tight on the climb up Scout, and I started having a few twinges coming off the top of Scout, and was forced to take it easy on the steep downhills.  I was able to pick it up as the grade steepened and maintain a steady pace to the Mink Creek Aid, but I suppose this was the low point in the race, since I also belly flopped on the trail and ran out of water.

The final 10K took about 10 minutes longer than I had hoped for. I was now in a large group of 35K runners, and fell into a predictable pattern of passing people on the uphills and watching them run away on the downhills.  I had a few twinges in my right quad on the climb out of Mink Creek, which kept me from pushing the uphills. I was also passed by the eventual 3rd place 60K runner, and absolutely smoked by the eventual 100K winner.  Soon enough I was grinding out the final downhill, crossing the finish line in 6:48, 13 minutes off the lead and course record.  This was a new course, however, and a strong runner could probably push the course time well under 5:30.  The rest of the day was spent sitting, eating, and sleeping.

results are here.

So how do I feel about the race? OK, I guess.  I was fairly successful meeting my goals for the race, but there is certainly room for improvement.  I could have started just a touch slower, and I think I should have held back a bit more on the first two downhills. Many things went well. I didn’t feel like I was on the verge of straining my calves or quads, didn’t have any digestion issues, never  felt like I was boiling over on the uphills, didn’t really have any low patches, and didn’t have any temperature regulation/chafing/blister/general surprise problems.
Similar to past races, I lost the most time by far on steep downhills, where impending cramps force me into a very conservative pace. Also, my closing speed was not great. Perhaps both of those weaknesses will improve with ongoing strength work, fiddling with the most efficient and sustainable stride, amassing running volume throughout the summer, and more conservative downhill running in the first half of the race. Also, I was relatively slow on the uphills compared to past races.  I am not sure if this is a result of consciously trying to keep the uphill pace in check, or if I am losing uphill speed.

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