Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alternate Chili Run - December 14, 2013

What: Alternate Chili Run
Where: Wyandotte County Lake Park, Kansas City, KS
When: December 14, 2013
Distance: 10.35 miles
Weather: cold and windy with a feels-like temp of 13F
Goal: to push the pace a bit and have fun
Finish Time: 1:47:47

Warning: There will be some profanity in the last part of the report. Please continue reading at your own risk.

Between October 19th and November 2nd I ran a 50K, covered 50.5 miles in 24 hours, and ran a trail 5K. After that stretch I took a short break from running longer distances and kept my weekly mileage closer to 20 miles. I started to get into a rut and decided to register for the Run Toto Run 50K on February 8, 2014. Now I knew I had to start ramping up my mileage and started meeting friends on the weekends to run the Run Toto Run course. Somewhere along the way I decided to register for the Alternate Chili Run since it is the same loop and would allow me to get a better idea of what time I should shoot for as a goal for the 50K. I started running the loop once per weekend, but starting the week of Thanksgiving, I started to run the loop on both Saturday and Sunday.

Race Day:
I've been having so much fun just running the loop easy with friends that I haven't really tried to push the pace at all. With that in mind, I decided to push the pace a bit during the race, but not run it at race effort. My plan was to run the majority of the hills up to the dam (5 miles) and then walk the steeper hills that I know I will walk during the 50K.

I had wanted to get to the race between 6:30 & 7:00 so I could get a decent parking spot, pick up my packet, and relax. I arrived to the park on time only to find a short line of vehicles stopped at the closed gates. Since I would still get a decent parking spot, I took the time to relax and enjoy listening to music. After about 45 minutes, I was beginning to wonder if the gates would ever be opened up. Eventually, the cops came and opened up the gates allowing the long convoy of cars to finally enter. I parked the car, waited until I saw people picking up their packets, then braved the cold and picked up my packet.

The Race:
The race starts and everyone goes across a metal bridge, crosses a field, heads up a short section of road, and then hangs a left onto the trails. I ran at a conversational effort for the first couple of miles and was shocked to see that I was averaging under 10:00 miles.
During Mile 2
A frozen creek crossing during Mile 2 (taken the day after the race)
During Mile 3, we come to my favorite part of the course, the Wyandotte Triangle. The triangle is about a mile long off shoot of the main trail that exits back on to the trail about 25 feet or so from where you enter it. The conditions were slick during some of the many twists and turns in this section and had me taking it a bit easier than I had planned. My pace dropped during this section, but my focus was on not falling rather than meeting a time goal. I exited the triangle to cheers from the great volunteers at the first aid station.

Once back on the main loop, I picked the pace back up a bit and  ran relaxed. The footing was pretty good so I figured I would take advantage of it.
Around the start of Mile 5.
I soon get to a short, but steep downhill section that is basically an erosional gully. It's filled with leaves and a little snow.  I took it easy as I expected it to be fairly slick, but surprisingly, traction going down was pretty good.

Shortly after the downhill I get to the only hill in the first half of the loop that I walked. I power hiked up the hill, hit a flat section, then came to my second favorite section of the course, Fall Down Hill. I let gravity take me down the hill, but held back a bit due to the conditions. I could tell that an upcoming corner was going to be slick and mentioned it to the guy running behind me. As luck would have it, I fell on the corner. It wasn't too bad, basically I fell on my ass and slid around the corner. It brought back memories of sledding on one of those roll-up blue plastic sleds and hitting a bump, just a little uncomfortable. I had some pain in my left arm for about a half mile or so after the fall, but it just felt like a minor cramp.

Unfortunately, after Fall Down Hill is my least favorite section of the course, the Dam(n) Hill. The hill is at the beginning of Mile 6 and is a steep .3 mile section of roadway, with probably .25 of those miles being uphill.

Dam(n) Hill. Unfortunately you can't tell how steep it is from the picture.
As I plan to do during the 50K, I walked up that damn hill, ran the short downhill section, then walked back up the hill until turning back on the trails. This is where we reach the second aid station, also with amazing volunteers! I can make up some time on this section as it is flat to downhill.

After a trip through the "wind tunnel," I come to a short, steep, rocky downhill section and carefully make my way down it. It is during this section that I have hyperextended a knee twice (once during training and once during a race), today, I made it down with no issues. I turn left on a flat section of trail, and pick up the pace a bit since I know of the hills waiting for me at the end of the section.

The first hill after the flat section of trail near the beginning of Mile 7. Yes, I walked it.
I have now reached Fester's Wander. The next approximate 3/4 of a mile are mostly uphill with a only a short, steep downhill section to break it up. After making it through the hills, you are rewarded with a nice, relatively flat section of trail, followed by a downhill section. Unfortunately, you also have to go back up to the ridgeline.

I believe this is shortly after Fester's Wander.

Shortly after above photo.

During Mile 8. Photo Taken by Rick Mayo of Mile 90 Photography.
After Fester's, I make it up another hill and pop out at the back of the boat yard. The section of trails that follows is a fairly decent spot to make up a little time before you start hitting the toughest hills on the trails which are affectionately known as the Three Bitches! These hills are all within the last mile or so of the course.

The first of the Three Bitches I like to call Bertha, because she is big and unrelenting.

Note: Bertha is not named after a real person. If your name is Bertha, and you happen to be reading this, don't take it personally.

My goal at some point is to run each of the Three Bitches, right now I can only run up Bitch #2 and Bitch #3. I do not have names for these hills....yet. As usual, I walked up Bertha. Once at the top I made up ground on the runners in front of me. I ended up passing some runners during the stretch between Bertha and Bitch #2 and another as I ran up the second Bitch.

I almost always forget about Bitch #3 and think I am done with hills, then I get the rude awakening. This time, I remembered about it and pushed the pace until I reached the hill. Since running the hill zaps my energy, I power hiked up it.

Heading up Bitch #3
Once you make it to the top of the final Bitch, it's easy running the rest of the way. I ended up passing the first two individuals in the above photo and caught up to the guy in the red jacket at the top of the hill. I get to the last downhill section and decide to just ease it into the finish in case the course was icy. It turns out it wasn't bad and I could have sprinted the finish, but since I didn't treat this as a race I didn't really care. I was completely surprised to see that I crossed the finish line in under 1:50:00, last year under better conditions, I finished in 1:52:xx.

Now I'm still trying to narrow down my goal. I finished my first 50K in 6:07:xx and it was on an easier course (Lake Perry). Notoriously, the WyCo course takes longer to finish. I'm thinking that sub 6:30 is feasible, but would still love to get a sub-6:00. As I start running two loops of the course for training, I'll pinpoint the goal and try to make it happen.

I received the medal from Ben and then ate some chili and drank some homebrew beer that Ben brought as refreshments. As with all the Trail Nerd races, Ben, Coco, and the volunteers did an awesome job and made the race go very smoothly! A heartfelt Thank You goes out to them all.

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