Saturday, March 13, 2010

Angel Island Trail Race - 25k

Payoff for the past week! Pushing through exhaustion paid dividends this week with an incredible result on Angel Island this past weekend. This 25k race tested me physically and mentally over the race as running with a lead pack is not something I'm used to, and it resulted in some head games going on.

After a quick ferry ride from Tiburon to Angel Island, the race was set to start. I could sense the field wasn't very deep, but I've never seen a lead runner after the first few minutes of a race and when the race began, everyone let me go out first!? It was a short parade around the picnic areas to thin the group due to the singletrack that awaited us in the hills. After a mile, three of us had escaped off the front, and were cruising up the hill. Jonas was a lean guy, but breathing heavy up the hill and the other guy I'll just have to call Diesel because he was just pure muscle and I couldn't hear anything from him on the way up. Very worried about Diesel.

After reaching the top, Jonas asked if we could keep the pace going in a way that sounded as if he would fold. Of course Diesel and I answered yes, but I looked at my watch and it said 172 bpm. Not good, but we were in the flats and I was certain it would come down and I could hold. Flowing along the mountain and hitting a downhill we stayed together, but on the last hill of the first loop, my legs couldn't hold and I was dropped, sitting in 3rd with nobody around. Every switchback and clearing of the loop I could still see the leaders, but the margin was unchanged no matter what I did.

Cresting the last hill and heading down the two mile descent I was glad to have time to recover. My running has vastly improved over the last two years, but I'm still a big guy at 198, and once a hill hits a certain grade, the speed just leaves me. Flying down the hill now, I can see I'm gaining again and my danger switch is turned off as I start to lean forward to help pull me down the hill. Its just a great feeling if you can keep good form downhill. Approaching the single track where the course is two-ways on singletrack, the leaders are getting closer. Finally at the turn point, I caught them! Turning back up the hill, they were gone and some chick (yes, I say chick) was flying down the hill and I fear she would catch me on the way up. Time to go for the big guns, Espresso Love!

My GU of choice is Espresso Love to jolt me into high gear with around an hour to go in a race. Climbing up the mountain on the second loop was a challenge. 1. I wasn't sure of the effort I could push and 2. the 12k'ers were coming down. Only had to yell once though, as it appears many are experienced trail runners, but I almost ran over someone trying to pass someone on their way down, that would have made me feel bad, but just for a second.

Reaching the top of the second loop climb, Diesel was alone and I was catching. Catching him we ran together for a bit and I find out that Jonas was sandbagging on the first lap and took off on the second, leaving us to fight for 2nd. At least I thought 2nd, until Carolyn (got the name afterwards) came roaring by us and all I could say is "watch out for us boulders on the downhill!" She laughed, but after a minute I had my goal, CATCH HER! Dropping diesel with newfound energy, I had two miles of rollers and two miles downhill to close the gap. I managed to stop her escape, but she had 200 yards on me leading to the downhill. Diving into the hill another obstacle stood in the way, lap traffic. Eyes had to move from trail to horizon to make insure a safe decent.

Moving down the hill was awesome and to my surprised, everyone was on the watch for us heading down and then it hit me, I'm running with the woman race leader, nobody wants to get in the leaders way. Getting to the last switchback I was on her heals yelling at her to keep the pace up and not let up. We raced to the bottom, and amazingly, my weight and legs couldn't push past her. Gravity is one of my friends, but it wasn't enough to overtake this speedy little chick. Cutting out of the trails as a sharp right turn that I couldn't make as well as Carolyn and my legs couldn't respond with enough power to sprint and regain the lost distance. Crossing the line 3rd Overall and 2nd Male was still a sweet surprise today!

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Angel Island Trail Race - 25k 3/13/2010

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