Monday, May 15, 2017

Running races, 2017

Unless I have a breakout race or something, I will put all running races in one post.  The format is more of a journal for me to look back on over the years, but if other people find it interesting, that is great too.

Huffing for stuffing 10k
I had an average race, splitting 6.05 miles.  I started out in no mans land behind the lead back of about 15 runners.  The first slightly uphill mile was a disappointing 6.22, so I ratcheted the pace up just a touch and spent the remaining uncomfortable miles, passing almost 10 runners and running a few sub-6 miles on the downhills to the finish.  I was a little disappointed in my pace, but pushed about as hard as was prudent.  Not my best 10k ever, but I have had a few productive weeks of building fitness after a weird fall with some sickness and an achilles injury, and I will take a two minute improvement over my previous times as an encouraging sign.  Leah had an OK race.  Thanks to my family for watching Sam.

Rut 28K
I showed up for the race optimistic, having cobbled together a consistent string of long days in the mountains, which resulted in fairly good fitness.  I ran the first half of the race at a marginally sustainable pace, arriving at the half way point a few minutes faster than last time.  To make a painful second half story short, I battled adductor/sartorius cramps for the rest of the race, which cost me about 40 minutes.  It was fun to run for a bit with Doug and John Fiore, although they both dropped me easily when I had to stop to get the legs unsiezed.  In any case, I finished in about 4.52, having not run anywhere near my fitness potential.  Leah had a much better race.  I am putting out feelers to try to get to the bottom of my inner leg cramping, as I now have an unconfirmed theory that it is a more complicated mobility and/or nerve issue than muscle weakness.  Thanks to the Mikes for putting the race on, to my parents for watching Sam, and to all the volunteers and participants for making the weekend so fun.

Missoula half marathon
Leah and I ran this together with Sam in the running stroller.  Aside from having to get up at 3:30 to make the start with baby, the run was quite smooth and easy.  Leah was able to hold on to her goal pace, so we just rolled along the course at 7:40 miles.  I actually really enjoy stroller running, and don't mind pavement, so the race was a blast.  The sunrise was beautiful, the spectators were fun, Sam did well, and the course is a nice tour through the hilights of road running in Missoula.  While not a full race effort, it was tiring as well.  We finished in 1.40.

After the race, I headed out myself and ran the Double Dip course to make it a full marathon length day.  I had a goal to beat Leah's race time but was unable to do so, despite pushing hard.  It was fun to get a long hard effort in.

Pengelly Double Dip, Missoula
I finally participated in this long standing Missoula "tall half marathon."  With our son in day care, both Leah and I were able to run, which was great except Leah is fit, and I knew she would be keeping me honest on all of the climbs.

My heart rate monitor wasn't really working right, so I ran by effort, starting a few clicks above what seemed reasonable for a two hour race.  The few numbers it did flicker over the first hour were in the 170s, indicating the last hour of the race would be a painful horror show at the same pace.  At that effort, I was pleased to top out on the M climb in about 15th place.  I was hoping to pass a few people on the flat fire road, but it didn't really happen, so I just rolled along in my slot, working hard but feeling OK.
Working hard above the M.  Photo: Votography Images
I once again took some risk and pushed very hard for the entire climb out of Crazy canyon and up University.  I only moved up one position, but also arrived at the high point of the course less haggard than those in front of me.  With a little gas left in the tank, I was able to slowly move up, passing one runner on the University descent, and closing the gap to John Fiore and Nicole Murray on the climb to Sentinel.  I had just enough run left in my legs to pass both John and Nicole at the beginning of the downhill, and ran hard all the way down to Kim Williams, with Jeffrey in pursuit.  The last flat mile was very hard, since I reeled my friend Doug in, but just did not have anything left to pass him in the last few hundred yards.  I ended up finishing totally whooped, at 1.54, in 9th? place.  Leah came in just a few minutes later in 7th.  Great run Leah!

It is a short race, but I had a very good performance relative to my fitness.  Pushed hard, took some risk, moved up, almost blew up but didn't, and finished totally spent.  And had a blast. 

Don't Fence me in 30k, Helena
First climb. Me, looking like a chump with one arm warmer.   Moving up.

I finally did this hilly and beautiful race, and it was every bit as enjoyable as I had hoped.  We had good friends watch Sam, so both Leah and I got to race, which was wonderful.  I went out reasonably hard, and settled into the first climb around 30th place.  Even though I faded a touch over the course of the race, I did not fade as much as everyone else, and I spent the next ten miles or so working hard but also slowly picking runners off.  I was surprised at how fast the course was, especially the uphills, which were runnable with very few exceptions.  I did have a surprisingly low patch on the runnable Helena ridge section, battling a sideache and generally not keeping good turnover on fatigued legs, and both Tory and Leah Handleman (women's leader) came within about 5 seconds of reeling me in.  Fortunately I found another gear somewhere for the last steep climb to the peak, and the ensuing technical downhill was just tricky enough to allow me to hold my lead to the finish.  I crossed the finish tired and with a few calf twinges, feeling like I had a perfectly solid race given my current fitness.  2.53, 17th place.  Leah ran a predictably solid race, finishing sub-3.30, 16th place female.

For future reference: I ran the first two uphills with HR in the 158-162 range and faded to the low 150s by the end. Not an even effort, but I moved up something like 15 places over the course of the race, so it seems as though I paced reasonably for an optimal performance.  I could have dug deeper on the climbs, but not much. With a few cramp twinges on the last downhill it seems as though doing so could have very well risked a blowup.  As a metric, I am feeling slower than past years, but not too far off.  But (fingers crossed) healthy and grateful to be building fitness. I'll take it.

Riverbank 10k
I ran this long standing Missoula race with Sam in the stroller.  Sam was on his best behavior, so I was able to give it a more or less full effort.  I didn't really have a time goal, but after a mile or so of sorting things out, I started pushing hard, which was about a 6 flat pace.  I passed people throughout the race, with the exception of one dude who passed me in the half mile, and who I could not catch despite my best efforts.  I got a lot of compliments running in the top 10 with a baby stroller, but I don't think people realize that a baby stroller doesn't actually slow one down much at all on flat pavement. Final time was 38 low, 6.07 pace.  Without a doubt, Sam was the stroller champion of the 10k.

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