Monday, June 27, 2005

i'm in it for the t-shirts

saturday i ran the double dipsea, an out-and-back, point-to-point trail race with 4500 feet of climbing. it starts at stinson beach, and then follows, more or less, the dipsea trail to mill valley, turns around and comes back.

it's a race i've been wanting to do for a while, but the timing has never been quite right, and i've been a little scared of it, but coming off a pretty good 37k trail run the weekend before, i figured this was the year to go for it. i couldn't talk anyone else into running it with me, which was good and bad; because it's less fun to run alone, and because i'm not very good at holding back early in the race, which i usually end up paying for, and good because i could focus completely on the race.

the race is handicapped, with runners starting with more or less of a head-start based on age and gender. the first group (women 70 - 75) started an hour before the scratch runners (my group), with everyone else in between. it turned out to be a pretty cool way to do things because there wasn't a huge jam at the start, and also because every person i passed moved up one place closer in the final standings.

i've run the dipsea trail a lot, but because the race is point-to-point there are all kinds of shortcuts that i didn't know about, and i was a little worried about getting lost, but my strategy of following anyone who left the main trail turned out to be a good one; i got all the shortcuts and didn't get lost.

i was hoping to finish the race in 2:45, and figured if i felt REALLY strong i might try for 2:30, which is about 17 minutes faster than i've ever run the trail.

i felt pretty good going out, and tried to be disciplined about walking the stairs (300+ on the way out) and the steeper hills, as well as making sure i downed some electrolytes at every aid station.

i hit the turnaround at 1:09, which gave me 1:21 to get back to make 1:30. i thought i'd need the extra time to get up the 671 steps on the way back, and to make up for being slower due to fatigue.

as it turned out, i got to the top of the last big climb at 1:58 with 2.5 miles to go, and all of a sudden i realized that i might be able to make sub-2:20 if i pushed it. so i did, down the single-track faster than was safe, praying i wouldn't cramp or lose my footing, pushing as hard as i could up the last little rise (called 'insult hill') but still having to walk, and then more single-track through the woods, out on to the last section of trail, and finally, onto the last 200 yards of paved downhill to the finish, with the clock showing something over 2:19.

as soon as i hit the pavement both calves started cramping, but i was able to modify my stride enough to keep it from getting too bad, and still able to push WAY past my anerobic threshold (my heartrate hit 205) to finish in 2:19:52, in 99th place.

and i got my t-shirt.

update: i finished 6th out of 23 in my age-group (30 - 34)