Aug 162009

by Kevin Robinson –

Perhaps I did the wrong thing Saturday? I hardly ran all week after surgery Tuesday, well mostly swimming laps to be honest. So…a 6 mile trail run the day before the Bradbury 9 miler….was it the best way to warmup for a tough race?

At the time, it felt perfect, I didn’t run overly fast but it was 80 degrees out and my heart rate was in the 150-160s(which is my race pace). My legs felt great and as I realized how “great” they felt, I found myself wondering if I would wish I had this great leg feeling on Sunday……

Oh well…can’t change the past was my first thought Sunday morning when I rolled out of bed, felt heavy legged, tired and a little lame. I wasn’t really worried as my game plan was running rather than racing…..but the thought of climbing that summit four times(really was more like 6 times, but who counts?) was weighing a bit heavy as I gathered up my running stuff.

I had a mental note at the time…”get things ready the night before”. I always say I am going to be completely prepared but never am. I think racing around looking for stuff is my way of taking my mind off the race. I don’t really think it works that well as the anxiety more than makes up for any random last minute race thoughts.

One thing I have come to love about trail racing, is that I don’t feel nervous before the start. After running the 50k and convincing my brain it is OK to run slow. I realized that people cheer for you anyway and are just plain happy you made it to the end. I am usually pretty happy to make it to the end too, so we have that in common.

I was suprised to see how many people showed up to fight the mountain and the heat,The report was 90s and humid…at 9:00am it was already showing signs of being a correct report. Running in this type of heat, shows how much they love trail running.

As usual Ian (the race director) had something humerous to say and his remark about the huge bees nest a half mile from the finish giving us the incentive for a fast kick hit the spot. (you think he planted them there?) He also mentioned the heat and the difficulty of this (hill) he recommended to start conservative and I agreed.

The start was great, I held back quite a bit and allowed myself to settle into a comfortable pace. I ran a little while with George A and we had a nice conversation about road races compared to trail races….we both agreed that the trail was the place to be. George warmed up a bit faster than I did and mosied on up to the person if front of me for a new conversation and then the next…..I found myself wondering how many people he would end up talking with by the time he finished.

By the second mile, the deadness in my legs was dissapearing and I was actually feeling pretty good, but in the back of my mind lingered a vision of the climb to the summit. I was already starting to sweat quite heavy and anxious for the water stop at (appr) 2.5 miles. I took a gaterade and a water….the gaterade to drink and the water to dump over my head for cooling….it felt very refreshing.

I suprisingly felt much more comfortable and fluent running down the south trail and was only passed by one fast downhiller. Hitting the summit trail was more of a fast climb than a run and even though my brain was running at the top, my body was almost crawling up the rock outcropping.

It felt so good to start running back down the other side. I found myself gaining more breath and picking up speed. I thought to myself, that wasn’t so bad and only two more times to climb. By the time the trail twisted back toward the summit I was not feeling as comfortable, boy this “hill” just sucks the breath right out of a person.

The hardest part of the run was the switchback trail that heads back down the mountain. I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable and two of the people I passed earlier went flying by me. This is when I actually realized I was racing, becasue it bothered me that I was passed. I kept thinking, I need to practice more down hill racing.

I don’t know when it was that I switched from running this race to racing it, but I suspect it is just instint and my conscious mind has no real say in it. By the second lap, I was full blown racing and my whole mind set changed.

I was being chased by this older guy his name is Pierce (I think) and he was relentless. I swear he thought I was in his division because he was detirmened to catch me and get in front. He found small openings and was able to get through the water stop quicker. I still managed to stay in front….that is until I took a wrong turn.

Suddenly I found myself alone and the girl that I was following/ chasing was nowhere in sight. I realized that there were no markers either. Damn! I was so pissed, how could I miss the trail? I looked ahead and thought I saw part of a trail….was it the one I was supposed to be on?

I wasn’t sure and instead of taking a chance, I took Ian’s advice and just backtracted to find where I went wrong. When I found it, I saw Mr. Pierce already flying down the trail and now I became the chaser.

I tried at least three times to pass him on the downhill and found the reskless abandonment of trying to pass instead of trying not to fall much faster and somehow more comfortasble (even though I was on the verge of killing myself).

I finally got by him and as I spread the gap he mentioned how good I was at downhill running. Hey if I realized all I had to do was throw caution to the wind and take a chance of an early death, perhaps I would have run this way sooner. I could see the headlines, Stupid middle aged man runs down hill head first into a tree…..the tree won! gruewsome photos at eleven.

I was beginning to enjoy this race and found myself gearing for the terrain. I ran fast when I felt good and slowed when I couldn’t gasp anymore oxygen in to support my lungs. This seemed to work quite well and the downhills finally became my friend, that is when I made up for slower pace of the uphills. A phylosophy I have been using when road racing for years.

I caught up with Mindy and Ryan as they happily jogged the trails… was very nice of them to slow down long enough to make me feel like I am running fast. I shot by them with all the gumption of an elite runner only to be breathless and passed back by them on the next hill. Hey… was good while it lasted!

I did finally catch back up with them about a half mile from the end and was thinking I would be happy to just follow them in. But Ryan told me to get my kick going and Mindy supported the idea so somehow I switched gears and powered my way to the finish like I was the winner or something……it did feel real good to finish and I guess I must have run much too fast for them bees…cause I never saw one.

Oveall a great race, a lot of fun and a great job by Ian ……but was this really nine miles? I always seem to get much longer distances than Ian…I am sure he is right but for my records (plus the fact that I went off the trail for a bit)I will use my numbers….it makes me feel faster!

I think I showed myself something at this race, even though the hills beat me down physically, I kept coming back and regainned my speed after each hill. I could have easily run a few more miles I think this shows that I have a good running base and that running intervals (like track or speed running)has good continuity with hill or trail running.

Bradbury 9 mile race: 9.78 miles @ 1:50:46
Bradbury East “O” Trail cooldown run 1.89 miles @21:02 I didn’t feel much cooler!
When I got home,…..oh Yeah…I hit the pool and was finally cooled down!

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