A few weeks back, Alison and I journeyed to the rainy side of the mountains to run the 12km Squak Mtn trail race in Issaquah, WA. For me it marked the first "destination" running race I have competed in, and for Alison it was the shortest race she's run in years. We both were excited about the event; Alison's training has been progressing really well over the last several months and she has started to incorporate some significant strength and intensity into the regimen. For me, I was just hoping to run well on the dregs of the racing season, barely two weeks past.
The course isn't tame; mostly on trail and some FS roads, it climbs for nearly six miles in a not-so-gentle fashion until topping out on Squak. After a short teaser descent it climbs again for a piece before finally letting you into the honest downhill portion to the finish. My plan was to race the uphill and take it easy going down, while simultaneously trying to hold Alison off on the downhill. I wasn't sure of the field, but had a thought that I might be alone on the climb. As it happened, a Seattle stair-running champion named Kevin Crossman was also in the race and he and I paced each other the whole way up the climb. He managed to gap me by about twenty seconds as we topped out and from there it was over; I'm no downhill runner. I almost lost my 2nd place too, when I took a wrong turn about twenty meters from the finish and went down a FS road to the main highway and then had to sprint back, costing me about a minute and a half. I made it to the line just ahead of 3rd place.
Alison's race was a true reflection of the training she's been doing; aside from one badass woman that gapped the field right at the beginning, Alison held her own the entire way, outpacing everyone else on both the uphill and (of course) the downhill. This is a huge accomplishment for her physiology, and a real sign that the more structured, comprehensive preparation she's been doing is paying off.
Sorry we don't have any pictures; here's a link to the race site photographer: http://stevesandersphotography.com/p772674826/h19a00fc6#h19a00fc6
Get out and race!