Monday, February 20, 2012

Hagg Lake 50K - Nice Muddy Run

The Hagg Lake 50K was nice run for my first long 'race' of 2012.

Gimpy made a couple mistakes in preparation, but generally feel the training went well to prep for this race and the future ones.  (Thanks again Coach).

With regards to the mistakes:
1) Gimpy was up and ready at 0530 in Albany, but I didn't get to the Hagg Lake parking area until 0750 and  the race start was 0800.  This was just poor planning on my part.  This will be corrected in future runs, but it got me off to a mediocre start.
2) As a result of the late show, I barely got my bib number and the race bell went off.  By the time I was prepped and ready the field was already 4-5 minutes out and nobody in sight.  I did see Ken Ward who commented about me getting a late start.  Of course, just to make it challenging and make sure around 200 other runners muddied up the trail first.
3) I figured I was in last place and didn't feel like I could hit the porta-john so I headed out hoping to catch some walkers and take a short break on the way back from the out and back.  I was able to catch two runners just before the turn around and it turned out there were 2 guys behind me and they were chatting up a storm so I figured they would pass me.  They did at mile 1.5.  So now I was 3rd to last.
4) I saw a couple people I recognized coming back down the hill along with everyone else and I thought that's a lot of people to follow.  I was however optimistic and decided to not push too hard and run my own pace, even if it was by myself.
5) I saw two more runners behind me on my way back down, so now I'm only 5th to last.  Best to just focus on running.
6) Stop at the port-a-johns, and of course the two runners I'd passed on the hill passed me back, but no sign of runners last and 2nd to last, boom-shaka-laka.  I've got this position locked up, whoo-hoo.  Done with out and back, now for the two loops of the lake.
7) I was thinking we were going to get soaked from the rain right off the bat, but it turns out I was soaked in sweat by the time I finished the out and back.  Gimpy had decided to wear his rain jacket and ended up getting soaked in sweat, not rain and for some reason the sun was coming out.  So I dropped the jacket at the aid station and hoped it wouldn't shower on me too bad.

Well, Gimpy finally found a groove, got back ahead of the two runners that had passed me before the paved trail ended and mud began and started looking for colors.  A shirt, gloves, shorts, anything that might indicate I was catching up to the main group.  It wasn't until mile 5 I finally saw some walkers, but it would be a fairly runner-free for most of the two loops.

There were definitely a few muddy sections, but the sun was peaking out and it wasn't looking too bad for the 1st loop.  I just kept telling myself, this is just the first loop, don't get excited.  Heart rate 140ish, pace 11-12ish, ok so far.  I should probably get a Gu in me it's already 45' into this slip-fest.

Gimpy felt good across the dam and into the first aid station, but didn't stop as I had two bottles with me and plenty of Gu for the first loop.

There were several slippery section, but I managed to stay on my feet, until mile 13, 14, and 15.  Then it was one fall after the other with arms, legs and feet going in all directions.  By now the bottles are covered in mud and I can see these last couple of miles of loop one were going to be fun.  Of course, all those runners ahead of me, already turned parts of the trail in to an even bigger mudfest.  Woot woot, I hear the pain train calling out signals for a scramble.

Gimpy made it through the next aid station and proclaimed I was good, well not good, but I had everything I needed.  I thought about the previous years 25K with Samuel and Gene.  It would have been nice to have someone to catch.  Last year I finished in 2:58 and I came through mile 15.5 around 3:09, different course so not a direct comparison, but considering I still had another 14.6 miles to go, not so bad.  Maybe running a little conservative.

I felt like I still had some umph left by the time I got to the start finish.  Managed to pass a few people at each aid station and started thinking about Eric "long legs" time from last year. I also had Brett Henry on my mind, as I think he's just a bit faster than me and I was hoping he'd be running.  But, I'd seen him at the start and he wasn't running.

Prior to the run, I was hoping optimistically for something between 6hrs and 6hrs 30min.  Getting my late start wasn't going to help Gimpy reach any of his goals.  I felt like I had been walking too many hills, but I didn't want to crash and burn before lap one was over.  So it was with relief I came through the start finish in 3:26 and change.

It wasn't with relief that I'd been having some pain in my left knee after some long training runs and sure enough there it was at mile 17 and it was gently nagging me for the next couple of miles,  18-20, but Gimpy was working off a no pain no gain philosophy and it finally disappeared due to lack of acknowledgement and could get back to some relative pain free running.

At the start of the second loop Gimpy had taken a couple minutes to change shirts, arm warmers, clean gloves, and switch to the running vest.  The water bottles were coated in mud and I couldn't wipe my nose without shoving mud up it.  So that was a welcome change, but did anyone mention the trail was muddy and slippery.  Slip, boom, crash, and the gloves are covered in mud.  Not a little, but both sides top and bottom.  How was I going to blow my nose.  It's a delicate thing if you want to keep mud off your face.  I now know how close I can get my elbow to my nose, I can't.  Looks like we're not keeping mud off the face.  The gloves come off, cotton gloves soak up a lot of mud.

...and I fall numberous times, especially on the down hills where it looked more like a slip and slide and less like a trail.  Still having fun though.

The vest otherwise was nice, because it kept Gimpy's hands free for the falls and better balance.  I decided I better supplement the Gu and so at the next aid station I took on some salt and coke, eeewww! not a happy combination.  Snagged a clean Gu and off we went, but it didn't like 11-12's anymore, more like 13 minutes/mile.  Well, hopefully I'd built up a cushion and some opportunity to pick off a few more runners to make one of my goals.

The wind and rain picked up a little on the second loop and I started to regret not having the rain jacket.  But the arm warmers felt good although the fingers started feeling numb.

I was starting to see runners, but I couldn't seem to catch them even on the roads.  I did learn a few don't go this way tricks from the previous loop so I felt like I was slipping less and the plow ahead through mud seemed to pay off rather and dainty stepping through the what seemed like endless mud.

At the last aid station, the Garmin said 6 miles to go, while the aid station should have been closer.  Mind games on which I should believe.  I finally convinced myself that the race directors were better at marking than my Garmin was at keeping a descent distance.

"Relentless forward progress" became my mantra and I was certainly happy to see the parking lot, with about a half mile to the finish.  It would be close for a sub-6:30, but let's try.

Gave a little step on the gas and I do mean little and crossed over in 6 hours 26 minutes and some change.  No regrets, I was hang head down done for about ten minutes.  Got my socks, hobbled over and got some chicken noodle soup and a hot dog.  The soup hit the spot, but I started to feel like I might throw up.  Managed to calm the stomach demons and took one bite of the hot dog and called it good.

Not bad, my Gimpy friend.  Finished in under 6:30.  Got my smile on, and ran a 50K earlier in the year than ever before.  The hobble back to the car was most blissful, but I wished I'd put on some dry socks and shoes first.

Overall and split times from NSpire:

Start: a little late
Mile 7.6:   1:19:59
Mile 17:    3:26:14
Mile 21.7: 4:19:15
Mile 31:    6:26:14

It looks like this year was muddier and slower than previous years for most people.  I checked Nick T, Jason H, Sean M, Gary T, and Pam S. times and they ranged from 1.5-22 minutes slower.  Certainly not a fair comparison, but I'm thinking Gimpy's gonna go back next year and try to do better.

Until then, Let's Go Gimpy, find some muddy trails and let's run!!!

Hope to add some photo's soon...