Monday, June 11, 2018

Running races, 2018

An ongoing summary of summer running races.  All the standard race disclamers apply.  Going into running season, I am honestly a little burned out with racing.  Not in a bad way, more that I am not super fired up to work hard to produce top level performances, and am trying to give myself a little psychological break and just train for fun.  I have had a few minor tweeks going into the running season (foot and groin), so I would rather get on a better injury trajectory than worry too much about fitness.

Missoula Turkey Trot 8k  I ran the 5-mile course on Thanksgiving.  I ran as fast as I could, and ended up spending the last third of the race sandwiched in between the women's winner and a hungry pack of about five of Hellgate's finest female runners.  With a bit of grit, I was able to hold them off for a 29.30 finish, averaging 5.55 miles.  I had hoped to hold on to 5.45 miles, but my fitness is not that good.  I did a cool down lap on Sentinel post race, then enjoyed Thanksgiving festivities with our family. 

Elk Ramble 15k  I didn't put too much mental energy into the run, or really taper well, but I did finally get a good three weeks of training going into the Elk ramble after a very frustrating September of sickness and generally poor bodily absorption of training.  The run itself went really well.  I started out hard, probably right around anerobic threshold, but still only managed to top out on Jumbo saddle in about 20th place.  It seemed like I was able to make up time on the downhills, and passed a few guys.  I was able to grind it out to the top of the last climb only getting passed once.  On the last downhill, I passed about five people, and ended up finishing well inside the top ten in about 1.06.  I felt good about the race, and was able to maintain a reasonable sup-marathon pace 6.50 miles over the slightly hilly course.  It has been a consistent trend, but it felt good to have a solid race after a frustrating summer of cramping at longer races.

The Rut 28k  After a poor Beaverhead race, I was honestly not very excited to run the Rut.  My race plan revolved around cramp management rather than pushing to fatigue, so I started conservatively.  I didn't even feel all that good in the first half, and arrived at Swiftcurrent behind schedule and surprisingly tired.  The second half was faster.  I had some inner leg twinges, but was able to run through them, and was able to move up about 30 places by holding the conservative early pace.  I had a great time running down Lone peak, and was grateful to be moving smoothly if not fast over this beautiful course.  I finished just over five hours, my slowest time.  I wasn't as tired as I would have liked, but pushed the cramp threshold about as far as possible. Leah and Kyle both had great races.  The real hilight of the weekend was pacing Sam in the runt run and seeing family.  See Beaverhead race for adductor frustrations.  They remain unresolved.  While my fitness is currently below average, I think that a 4.30 to 4.40 time is quite realistic without the cramping issue.  I will probably not race steep mountain races next summer if I can not find a robust solution to the issue.

Beaverhead Endurance Runs 55k
  I was excited to run an ultra after a two year hiatus.  I showed up well rested and reasonably fit, hoping for a fun race.  The first half of the race is very runnable, and I slowly moved up from about 30th place to about 10th.  I was working pretty hard with heart rates consistently in the mid-150s, but it seemed conceivable that I could hold the pace for the remainder of the race.  About half way between the Cutout and Janke lake aid stations, my nemesis adductor cramps set in, and I had to stop about five times to let them subside.  Although it was not the way I wanted my race to go, I remained committed to finishing, and decided to slow way down until the cramping resolved.  I was enjoying the back and forth with Andrew, and it was unfortunate to watch him run off, but so it goes.
In the heart of the stunning middle third of the course.  Shortly before cramping.
Photo: Andrew Mayer.
After taking in a bunch of fluids and sodium at the aid, I took it easy and walked the entire off trial section.  Fortunately, the terrain was slow enough that I wasn't really hemoraging too much time.  I was able to run once I got back on the trail, but I kept it nice and easy, coasting into the final aid station and once again taking in lost of fluids, sodium, and generally taking as much care of my body as possible.  I was able to run the last six miles, gradually speeding things up as I approached the finish line.  I crossed in 7.25, about forty minutes behind my time goal.

Three things I am happy about:  I had a great time.  Since I wasn't able to hammer the last half, I recovered really quickly, which was nice.  All of my medium and long term injuries and niggles are pretty much clear, and it is really nice to feel healthy and strong.  I am, however, super frustrated about the adductor cramping, since it is such a chronic race killer and seems to set in well before I have the chance to push to my body's potential.  I have a few new ideas to address the cramping, but none of them seem terribly robust, and to be honest, I'm a little stumped on how to get back to feeling like I can race to my potential for events over about three hours.

Governer's Cup Marathon  For a few disparate reasons, this race fit well into my schedule.  It is really early in the year to expect a great race, as I had only done two proper long runs prior to toeing the line.  On the flip side, ski season aerobic base is great, my body is accepting running quite well, and even later in the year I don't really want to put in the flat miles required to properly train for a road marathon.  So, I set of at 6 am on race day with a single goal of sub-3 hours.
The start.  I am half visible in the orange shirt behind Nico Composto, the uncontested winner.
The race went well, and I had a lot of fun.  The first few downhill miles were easy, but I was already distressingly taxed at the top of the biggest hill at mile 5.  From miles 5 to 16, I banked 10-15 seconds a mile on goal pace, and was running hard but not all out (HR in the mid 150's).  I kept the calories and water coming in, and to my delight I never bonked.  The field was quite thin, and I ran the first 25 miles a stubborn two minutes behind third place. There are a lot of hills in the second half of the course, and I was losing more time than I liked on each one, but I was already having light hamstring and calf cramps, so it seemed unwise to try to run any harder.  After reading about endless tales of getting crushed around mile 18, I rolled through 18, then 20, then 22, then 24 in mild terror, but nothing bad happened.  Coming out of the last hill around mile 24 I was about a minute behind goal pace, and although it was unrealistic to gain that time back, I at least tried.  My effort was enough to pass the 3rd place runner, but it was not enough to get under the 3 hour mark, and I crossed the line cramping and totally knackered in 3.00.40.

Although I missed my time goal, I am satisfied with race day execution, and don't really know where the 40 seconds could have come from without taking even more cramping risk.  The road running was much less monotonous and painful than I had feared, and recovery has been faster than expected.  With a larger running base, I think sub 3 is possible, but I'm not sure I want to try.

Riverbank 10k
  I signed up just a few days prior and didn't really taper.  I had a great race for so early in the running season.  I settled behind much-faster Cory Soulliard, and just tried to hand on as he cranked out my goal pace 5.55ish miles.  It hurt a lot earlier in the race than I am used to, but I successfully hung on, running about as fast as realistically possible.  The last mile was a nightmare of pain.  36.35 or so.  Thanks to Leah and Sam for cheering on, and for joining me for a Snowbowl skin later in the day.

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