|Midway through a (gasp) speed workout this spring|
Saturday was the last in the super fun Bellingham Trail Running Series. Candice Burt puts on a great event. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for a well-marked, challenging, fun course with great post-race fare. There was a 12k and a 30k. I, of course, wanted to do the 30k, but also knew that the 12k would be better for me in the longterm. The course uses trails that I'm familiar with from the classic northwest ultra, Chuckanut Mt. 50k with the kind of profile I like most: all up, and then all down. I was excited to race these trails on fresh legs, particularly the lovingly nicknamed "Chinscraper," a hands on thighs climb that normally comes at mile 21.
Candice said go, and from the start, people took off! Oh yeah, in short races people run hard. There wouldn't be 10 miles to warm up before hammering up a hill. Luckily, I had Sam with me prior to the race to help me with a warm up, as I'd never done one before (isn't that what the first 10 miles are for?). I was glad I took his advice to take a few minutes to not only get the blood flowing, but also to do some higher intensity running so it wouldn't be a shock to my legs and they wouldn't fill with lactate. I felt nice and controlled as I let several women pass me, figuring it was still quite early and there was a lot of climbing. My game plan was to go moderately hard up the Fragrance Lake trail (quite lovely and perfectly runnable), then really go for it on Chinscraper. I started passing people pretty early on, but there was still one woman ahead of me who was climbing really well. I knew once I made a move I'd have to work to stay ahead of her but also didn't want to settle into a pace when I could go faster. On a flatter switchback I moved around her and almost instantly thought I went too early. I couldn't let her think I was hesitant, though, so I envisioned a hill sprint workout to gap her. It worked, and I was able to let up and recover a little, which my legs and lungs appreciated. I started up Chinscraper and felt really good. It was so fun to know that this was the last bit of the race, since I don't really count the downhills as I love them so much. A guy who was doing the 30k came past me moving really well (they started 2 hours earlier, but had a tough course up to this point) and I was able to latch onto him for a short bit, before getting back to my power hiking. I could tell I was putting time on the girl behind me, but didn't want to let up now: there were guys up ahead I wanted to catch! I hit the road at the top and let it rip. Again, I thought of the girl behind me and didn't want her to be able to see me at the few spots where you could see the trail below, so I booked it. I also love downhill running and wanted to see how many people I could catch. It turned out to be just two people, but I felt really strong and knew I could keep the intensity up. I came into the finish in 1:01, several minutes faster than I thought.
|So happy I won!|
Winning a race is always fun, but I think the best thing about this one was that I felt strong. For perhaps the first time ever, I had the ability to make moves and strategize. I was running within my abilities, and I surprised myself. I'm continually amazed at how we can train our bodies to continually get better and better. This was the last short race for the year, and now I'm excited to put the strength and speed I've gained toward my natural abilities at the longer events. Look out!