Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remember not to panic…

Saturday was the 5th race in the Evergreen Trail Run series and I had trained pretty specific for the 10 mile trail race at Soaring Eagle. I got there with Alley, right on time, about 45 minutes before, parked, made our long way to the start and heard from a friend that the start time had been pushed back to 9:45. Cool, so instead of heading out for my warm up run right away I waited 15 extra minutes and then took off. The last thing I told Alley was “I have my phone on me, text me if you need to”.


The warm up run felt great, legs were rested, I hit the 10 minute mark and turned around. I was heading back and decided to add in a sharp hill climb to the right and figured I’d work the legs and would have plenty of time to recover on the mile back to the start. The climb was pretty hard, but short to the top where the road ended at the golf course. I hit the stop sign and then started on the downhill. I’m about 15 seconds into the downhill and I hear a text alarm through my headphones. At the bottom of the hill I read the all caps text – “EARL WAS WRONG!!! THE 10 MILE JUST STARTED!!! – crap….super crap! Crap crap…


I had the feeling like I missed the last BART train out of the city, like I slept through my last final in college, like I wasted 3 hard ass weeks of training.


I was bolting back to the start when I just said to myself, ‘enough, slow down, don’t panic, it is what it is. Let’s get back and see what the options are.’


I finally made it to our car, which meant that I was about .25 mile away, cuz we parked WAY down the road. I rounded up to the parking lot and saw a large group waiting so knew that it was the 5 mile that had been pushed back. I asked when the 10 milers took off and they said about 8 minutes ago. – UGH


Then I asked if I could switch from the 10 to the 5 and the woman said, “Sure, you can still race the 10 if you don’t care about your time.” Ugh again, I had to be that a hole that said ‘yes my time matters’. Boo…


I was bummed, but didn’t panic I had 4 minutes before the 5 mile started. I had a plan for the 10 mile and had been training at 10 mile pace, with a strategy of when to lay up and when to push the pace. The 5 mile?


After the last 5 mile race I knew I didn’t want to do another 5 mile race. Too hard of a pace for what I’d been training for, too hard of a pace to enjoy the race. Too hard of a race not to want to throw up at some point.


The course was downhill for the first mile so I knew that lots of people would be running harder than then should be. My plan was to hold a conservative pace until ¾ of a mile then push to get into the first group on the single track, where passing would be really hard to do. As planned, at about the ¾ mark lots of people started to die off the hard pace and I easily pushed to the front before entering the woods. I went from 30th to 9th in about 2 minutes.


Once in the single track it only took about 2-3 minutes to realize that I was redlining and had to slow down a bit. I let 1 person by, a really sharp 14 year old, I paced with him for the majority of the run through the woods. I was feeling ragged, and felt like I couldn’t get my legs under me to get a decent pace on. However, Soaring Eagle is twisty as hell with lots of roots. The 2 people in front would gap me on the short flats, but I’d get back to about 5 feet of them through all the twists and roots. I kept saying to myself “we’re going” meaning we’re going to redline until we blow up. Don’t loose them. I felt uncomfortable through the majority of the race, WHICH is why I didn’t want to run the 5 mile.


We hit the last uphill and by my guess I was somewhere between 9th and 12th. I knew if I could focus on one pace I might be able to reel the two up front back in. Within about 2 minutes I pulled one in, but as I did another guy caught us from behind. The 14 year old had gapped us by about 30 yards, but had started to walk, giving us 3 a bit of hope of catching him. I went with the guy that passed as he came around and stayed about 2 feet behind him. Which was tricky with all the mud, but I figured he was going to take the cleanest route so I just better focus on leg turnover. Although, really just wanting to hold on to his shirt so he could pull me up the hill.


I kept thinking to myself, ‘I feel like shit, this shouldn’t be this hard.’ I thought I was better trained than this! I was finally shoulder to shoulder with the guy as we climbed and grinded up the hill back to the finish. I glanced at my Garmin. “6:50”


I laughed out a bit and thought, that’s why you’re hurting, DUMBASS! You’re not under trained, you’re just pushing the shit out of it. We finally got within sight of the finish line and the guy I was trying to stay with bolted, I was just trying to keep pace and stay strong on the uphill finish. I had a real fear of losing 30-45 seconds in the last 30 yards, but it was only about 3 seconds.


Not my best feeling race, but I knew I had to go all in on the shorter race in order to stay high in the standings for the series. Not panicking, at the beginning when I showed up late for the 10 mile was key. Telling myself, don’t waste energy worrying about what happened, just get ready for what’s next. Don’t think I would have had that calm sense 3-4 years ago. I probably wouldn’t have run or charged off trying to bridge an 8 minute gap.


All in all it was an odd day, but still got to see old friends, meet some new ones, and run down and cheer for Alley racing the 10 miler after I finished. And lesson learned: I’m responsible for getting myself to the start line, not hearing it from someone else. Totally my bad.