Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Salida Run Through Time Race Recap

I did it, I finished my first trail marathon and I lived to tell the tale.

My goal going into this race was to get in under 6 hours. I had revised my previous goal of 5:30 due to potential weather complications and my lack of confidence in my training. The weather proved to live up to it's forecast. The morning started out dry, with a cloud hanging out towards Monarch Pass. Here's a picture of how things started out:

That guy looks like he's trying really hard to keep up with me doesn't he? It started to "sprinkle" snow as the race continued, but the real snow started once I hit the backside, about mile 10. The snow continued until about mile 18. Back on the front side of the mountain the weather cleared up a lot and it was pretty dry for the 2.5mile sprint back down the hill.

The course was about as I expected. It has about the same elevation change as the half marathon, but spread out over a longer distance. I actually think that the marathon was "easier" in terms of the layout than the half. The half has a lot of steep up and down while to me the marathon felt a lot more gradual. Everyone who had run the marathon before me warned me about "the road". Therefore when I got the road I was ready to take on the challenge. Especially since there was an aid station at the bottom with peanut butter m&m's. As I was filling my water bottle the volunteers asked if I needed anything and I grabbed handful of m&m's and stuck them in my pocket to "take on this hill". The road took FOORRREEEEVVVVEEER.

Literally it felt like it took forever. I think it took me about an hour or so to run it. But I am proud to say I ran it! I ran the whole thing. I was so excited that I was able to do it. There was about 2" of snow on the ground and it was pretty chilly. I was dressed for it, but nothing can really help snow pelting your face. There were some pretty intense rocky sections. For the most part I really enjoyed the course.

I had some knee issues during the race, probably at about mile 15 or 16. I experienced similar pain during one of my long runs. I was on the road so I thought it might be more related to pavement, but I definitely felt it during this race. I had to stop and stretch a few times and walk a little bit just because it hurt so much. It really got me pretty disappointed because I thought it was going to set me back a lot. I kept a mantra in my head during this "all you can do is keep going" so that's what I did. As I came into the last aide station, checked my watch and learned I had 2.5 miles left I knew I just needed to go. I am not sure what happened, but I was able to get in the "zone" and just go. I ended up finishing in 5:32:38.

Having had about a week to think about the race I've come away with some goals and ideas as I prepare for  my next race: Quad Rock. I'm excited that I finished this marathon almost an hour quicker than I ran Quad Rock last year. While Quad Rock is a tougher course, I was really psyched about my uphill work this marathon. The hill repeats have helped a lot with my overall uphill running ability and I think that will translate well into Quad Rock.  With daylight savings giving me more light in the evening, I am going to put in more mid week trail running. But really, but biggest goal is to get in a lot more long trail runs. I think it would mentally put me in a better space for both Quad Rock and War Eagle in June.

I was really excited about my ability to push past some pain and finish the marathon strong. Learning that I can keep going when I feel like I'm unable to is going to make a big difference in future races. I've done it before, but I was able to do it and get to a place where I felt strong again. I know that there are always times in races when you feel less than awesome, but it's a big deal to feel that and then feel strong and able to really kill it in the home stretch.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Salida Marathon - Pre Race

Here's my pre-race entry for the Salida Marathon.

Race Day Details:
Weather - Current high predicted to be 43, winds 10-15mph, 70% of precipitation (2" of snow accumulation possible)
Distance - duh 26.2 (give or take some since it's a trail race)
Elevation - 4750 gain/4750 descent
My goal time - under 6 hours.

Here's the deal, I think my original goal time was 5:30, but I'm revising a bit. I haven't been super confident about my training leading up to this race and the weather is also giving me some concern as far as performance. A lot of it will depend on snow/ice on the trail which tend to slow me down. I'll be happy to get under the 6hour mark for this race.

So for my benefit I'm going to put some things into perspective.

Things I cannot control for this race:
Weather, elevation gain/descent, distance, food available at aid stations, trail conditions, other runners.

Things I can control for this race:
What I wear, fluid/fuel, my attitude.

I can't change the weather, but I've run in crappy weather before. A couple weeks ago we had a pretty snow run at White ranch and I survived with a decent enough time. I can't change the layout of the course, I've got to travel 26.2 miles and I have to travel it in the way the race designates so all I can do is go forward. I can't tell them what food to have at aid stations, but they usually have something I'm willing if not eager to put in my mouth (like a pbr). If there's ice I still have to get past it and to save myself from a bruised butt I might have to walk. There's other runners on the trail and they don't matter because the only person who can finish this race for me is me.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't care what the weather was like. I really do wish it was going to be 65 and sunny without a speck of snow on the trail. I also really do wish I had gotten in more trail runs, longer trail runs, and just more runs in general. Because I know I didn't prepare in the way I would have liked I'm adjusting my expectations. I feel like the hill repeats will mean I can run some of the up hill sections stronger than I may have without hill repeats. I'd like to try and run as much as I can during the race. I know there will be some steep parts where walking will be a faster choice, but I'm going to do what I can to keep tiny footing my way up as many hills as I can. I am also looking to run the last 3 miles strong. The last 3 miles are switchbacks that go down the front side of the mountain (you run up them to start the race). I want to run those strong, even if my body is hurting.

I'm still conflicted about my wardrobe, but I'm sure I'll wear the same outfit I wear in weird/cold/wintery weather. My thicker Backcountry Magazine grey hat (I got it in a raffle), my old black running pants with ample pockets, some sort  of capilene t-shirt under my green/blue long sleeve smartwool shirt with thumb holes (or my purple patagonia with thumbholes if it is really cold.  In addition I'll have some thin liner gloves and my green lightweight jacket. I'm going to choose the warmest option, I doubt I'll have any reason to de-layer. Despite knowing this, I will admit I packed my shorts and capri tights just in case.

My attitude is really the biggest player in the race on Saturday. I am making a decision now that I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. I am going to wear smart clothing so I don't get too cold so the only thing I can focus on is just moving forward and enjoying the time it takes me to do it. I'm also bringing a boatload of Gu's (I have no idea how to pluralize a gu, because it would either be gus or gues....)

Stay tuned for the Post Race Recap next week!