Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chilly Cheeks 2012

On Sunday I ran the Chilly Cheeks 7 mile trail race. I did this race last year when the trails were covered with a few inches of snow. The footing last year was poor and I wasn't in as good of condition as I am this year so I didn't try to run as hard last year. In road races I generally finish in the top 5%, and trail races I'm closer to top 10-15%. I decided to try to change that and took off like a bat out of hell. A quarter mile into the race there's a free for all up a hill. I was probably in about about 20th place up that hill (out of 580), and when I started down the street to the next trail it felt like I was kicked in the gut. That feeling would stick with me for the next 7 miles. Whether it was the 15 degree weather or the fact that I'm not in as good of hill shape as I think I am, it didn't matter, I hurt. But, I wasn't about to slow down.
Without snow on the trails this year, I was surprised to find just how rocky the trails are. About 2.5 miles in I felt like my socks were bunched up in my shoes, but it turns out my feet were just starting to swell a little from taking the rocks too hard in shoes that probably don't have a rock plate (Adidas Marathon Trail). At 5 miles in there's the first flat stretch of the race where I was able to get my legs back and aim for people to pass. But, when you're running with the front of the pack, you can't easily catch someone 200 yards ahead of you. And when we hit the single track again I unfortunately followed them about 50 yards off course (straight down a hill of course). After climbing Mt. Whadafug (my 4th or 5th hill having to walk up) I knew it was all downhill from there. I flew down 600 feet of elevation over the next mile trying not to blink which would have resulted in a tumble. I ended up in 33rd place with a time of 1:01:something. 18 minutes and 54 places better than last year.
It's amazing how when I run a race like this I, and my legs are trembling beneath me as I trudge up another hill I question why I even do this. But, as soon as it's over I start planning on how I can do better next year.
The rocks beneath my feet were like that for about 70% of the trail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Loooong Run

By way of training site DailyMile I found out about a "Fat Ass Run" taking place just down the street from my house - Kent and BJ's Recover from the Holiday 50K. I'd never heard of a Fat Ass event. A Fat Ass is a no-frills "race". No awards, no spectators, no bibs, but best of all no entry fee. Bring your own water/food/gatorade. Kent was one of the originators of Fat Ass, and this was his 27th annual event. It was being run on the Perkiomen Trail, where I do a lot of my running. The course was a 10K loop starting/ending from his garage just off the trail. After each loop runners wrote down their times on a poster board and decided whether to continue on, or stop and drink beers and eat the smorgasbord of food provided by Kent and other runners.. I believe this was the largest running on record with around 50 runners out there.

I started with another runner I "know" through DailyMile. We got caught up behind a large group of runners going much slower than we planned, so after about a mile we passed them and ran our own paces. John took off on me and I settled in to a pace that I figured would catch the next group of people in front of me within the next few miles. Around mile 5 I caught up with them, and then that group dispersed. After the first loop John continued on together over most of the first 30K. 30K was my goal given my recent injuries. My previous long run since the marathon was 15 miles... but those were trail miles. So, after 18.6 miles on the flat Perkiomen trail I was at just about 2.5 hours of running, which matched my 15 trail mile time. I was feeling fine except for a little blistering, so I headed out for a 4th loop after a stop at my car for a change of shoes. Around 20.5 miles into the run I really started to feel the miles in my legs. At this time there was no more than a handful of people that chose to run more than 30K so I was pretty much on my own. I had just put on my iPod for the first time all day, and with my music, and comfort with the route I've run 100 times I cruised fairly comfortably into my longest training run ever - 24.8 miles. Two days later I feel pretty ok. A great confidence booster in my HatRun training.

When I finished most of the other runners were inside enjoying lunch and beers. They all knew each other pretty well and my introvertedness prevented me from feeling comfortable there, but it was a great day all around.

Garmin data - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/140036750