Monday, August 5, 2013

XTERRA Snow Valley, Part III: 21K Trail Run

. . .in American English, that's a Half Marathon. . .

The swan song for the XTERRA weekend was an  trail run, on hiking/cross-country trails across the street from the Snow Valley Ski Area.  It took some searching to find an elevation profile, but I found someone else's file from a race on Garmin connect.

Preparing for the race was mercifully simple compared to a triathlon: Shoes, shorts, shirt, ready to go.  Water bottle, holder, 310xt, iPhone and headphones, and HR strap were added as useful but unnecessary extras.  Karen and the kids dropped me off and headed for Big Bear Lake for a couple hours of fishing.  I was at the starting line with just a few minutes to spare.  Time for a quick limber-up, and then we were off. 

Doing some maneuvering at the start.
My legs were initially not so thrilled about the prospect of more hill climbing.  Even though I'd been drinking, eating, and replacing electrolytes religiously since the XTERRA Points tri yesterday, I still felt depleted and dehydrated.  It seems to take a fair bit more than 18 hours to completely restore and rebalance fluids and electrolytes in all body compartments.  No surprise there.

As intended, this was going to be a good opportunity to work on running in less than optimal conditions.  So I pretended it was an Ironman Marathon: focus on form; maintain a sustainable pace, and accept what my body had left without trying to force more out of it

It's not always easy on the ego to let people pass me.  But it is an essential lesson for racing in general, and far more so for Iron Distance racing, where going just a little too fast can lead to miles of walking during the marathon.  And to be blunt about it, I need work on it.  So I kept asking myself: Am I passing this person because there's some imaginary reason I think I should be in front of them, or because staying behind them is actually slowing me down? Unless it's come down to a sprint to the finish line, there's really no other good reason to pass.

Running efficiently downhill on trails is not unlike skiing the moguls.  It's important to stay balanced and centered, to land feet carefully and with the proper amount of force to guide one down the trail, and like with moguls, to keep one's vision 3 or so footfalls ahead in order to remain smooth.   Going too fast equals loss of control and a crash; going too slow and "overbraking" is actually more work than going the "right" speed.  There's a balance.  Luckily, I've spent most of my adult life running trails, so it was pretty much second nature. 

A fellow competitor who was running in front of me for awhile made a video of the race.  It's a good overview of the race and the scenery.  Plus, I'm in it:

Somebody's pet pig can be seen at 1:30.  The race itself starts at 1:44.  I'm running behind him at about 2:50 and I can't hear him because I'm taking acoustic inspiration from iTunes.  Then again at 4:30, and we chat briefly at 5:30.

During the last half of the race, I pushed the effort level up just a hair.  As with the IM marathon, this was not reflected in my pace.  But form stayed together.  I went 57 min for the first 11K, 63 for the last 10, for a total time of 2 hours and 54 seconds.  Just over 2 hrs.  :-\  Makes me wish I'd paid a little closer attention to the watch. . .

Overall, it was a scenic and fun run.  It was also a confidence booster in terms of how well I ran tired.  But the race awards suffered from the same logistical hassle as the XTERRA tri: I would've had to wait around for 1+ hours to get my little plaque for being 2nd in my AG.  I wanted to/couldn't/didn't.  It just seemed too selfish to make everyone sit around and wait again.  Our vacation had, up to that point, been all about the parents and what we wanted instead of the kids' fun.

But over the next week, we wound up doing OK in the kids of all ages fun department:  Speedboating around Big Bear Lake, hitting Huntington and Newport Beach, going to Disneyland, and checking out Street Skating and Freestlye Moto-X at the X-Games:

Mama's Driving the boat like a wild woman.  Family facepalm.
The teen is banking hard and fast, imitating mama.  Only 2 years and she can get a learner's permit!!  :-\

Huntington Beach on the iPhone panorama feature

. . .but that was last week.  Today was the first day of school for the older two, and today is the day that I officially start prep for Ironman Arizona in November.  We're right back into the full swing.

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