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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Race Report: TREAD 6 Hour Trail Run Relay

Great event!  Thanks Chico!  And of course DoubleBellyBuster!

The Course

It was a 4.2km loop on some really beautiful trails.  Very hilly... and somewhat diabolically so!  It started with a long gradual uphill, but once you got to the top you never seemed to get to a corresponding downhill.  The downhills that there were mostly were very steep or punctuated with sharp steep uphills.  Pretty tough stuff, my quads are cooked, mostly from going downhill.

My Race

I didn't actually know anyone on my team before I got there, so first off was meeting them!  There were only 3 of us on the team which was originally going to be 4, which meant more laps.  This was OK by me conceptually... but more on that later!

I was the second to run in our team.  At about the 500m mark I found myself behind a lady who was maybe slightly above my comfortable pace - but I decided to stick with it.  It was fantastic, like having my own personal pace bunny (and best of all she was a good trail runner and chose very good lines!  And curves.  If you catch my meaning.)

Lap 1: 20:34

I had about 50 minutes between laps, which was enough to recover quite substantially.  I ate one gel and drank at least a bottle of Gatorade/eLoad between each, this seemed to work out really well.

Lap 2 was probably the toughest for me... I knew the course a little better but I was just not very comfortable, perhaps trying to still push a bit too fast of a pace.  My Garmin went a little wonky on the distance and I thought I was way off my previous laptime, so I pushed - only to get to the end and find that I was right in the ballpark!

Lap 2: 20:55

Lap 3 the fatigue and stiffness started to show up a bit more.  Hills were harder, and I walked a couple of the really steep ones... once again I thought my time was blown to bits, but it was pretty OK!

Lap 3: 21:19

Lap 4 was probably the one I felt the best on.  I knew the course pretty well by this point, so I knew when to push, when to recover.  Even though it felt good, my time continued to slip... but not too badly!  I also knew at this point that a 5th lap was inevitable, so I tried to keep things pretty reasonable and not blow up.  By now my legs were very tight.

Lap 4:  21:39

The 5th lap felt a bit like a death march... the pain in the legs was just so bad now, all those downhills especially had really added up to some screaming quads!  Knowing it was the last lap helped though, especially for the finishing kick.

Lap 5: 21:50

All in all I'm pretty delighted, my hill training really paid off and I feel really strong on this kind of shorter stuff.  I was very consistent - every lap I was about 20 seconds slower than the one preceding it!  This was kind of par for the course for most people, a gradual fade as fatigue built up.  My nutrition plan mostly worked out great - no solid food, just gel and sports drinks (just like I did at Ironman actually!)

Best of all, the people I raced with were awesome!  Our team ended up 4th in our division, out of about 15-20 teams.  Thanks again to DoubleBellyBuster for the invite, it was a great time, nice meeting everyone.

I would also add that despite the difficulty of the course, it's a good event for beginners in trail running.  There's no pre-defined distance, you do what you can at the pace you want (as long as your teammates are on the same page of course!).  Walk up a hill, watch how some of the expert trail runners do it, and soak in the ambiance.

Chico Racing puts on great events, too - food was great, course was well marked, announcers were entertaining, there was even live music - I mean you really couldn't ask for much more!


Double Bellybuster said...

Thanks for coming Jon, it was great to see you. And thanks for bringing your wheels, great job knocking off quick laps five hours in.

Jennifer P said...

I never noticed this event on your calendar! I was there too - #1 in the flowered running skirt. I absolutely would have loved to meet you in person.

Great description of the course - where WERE all the downhills? If it makes you feel any better, the 6.5 route was not any kinder.

Enjoy your recovery

Jon P said...

Sorry to have missed you, congrats on the result. You must have been one of those "crazy" solo people? :)

Jennifer P said...

Definitely one of the crazies!

Now looking at your blog header, I remember your Ironman tattoo. I was running the first lap with a new friend and we were talking about other runners - trying to guess who was solo and who was relay and who was out for fun. You blasted past us and we laughed, not minding at all that we were passed by an Ironman athlete! We figured you were having a great day!

Jon P said...

Ha ha, sounds like me! I was in a zone! :) The relay is way different than solo, too, it's almost like running 5-5k races... my heart rate was way up in the 180's a lot!