This week has been jam-packed with good things. I met my goals of making all my workouts; I hit both HCTR club runs; I made the TriZones quality workout; I had fun social time with friends; my daughter came home (briefly); both daughters ate dinner here last night; fun time out with the hubby for dinner; good swims; just so much good stuff.
Today was the Bluff Trail race. I had hoped to be in shape to do the 30K but decided after the sneak peek out there last weekend that signing up for the 10K and then doing an extra loop would be my best option. It was the best decision.
Originally, I was carpooling out with a friend but a last minute phone call sent me off on my own. That was just fine, as I really like to be at race sites quite early. The drive was uneventful; my friend coeur d’Claire was there directing traffic. Her duties were over and we hung out a bit. Saw the 30Ker’s go off on there adventure, hit the port-o-potties, and got ready.
As we took off, Claire was running with me, taking it easy. She had had her 14-mile long run on the road yesterday but, even tired, she is a faster runner than I. We were together through the “button hook” first section, came back through the start area, and headed towards the Bluffs. She needed a bathroom stop, so I told her I’d go on but she would catch me. The course became more technical in this section, and this was where I passed a few people who were clearly faster runners but less trail experienced.
We climbed down towards the river; it was shortly after I fell climbing over the tree (my foot got caught in a vine as I tried to throw my short little legs over, lol) that she came back up behind me. We came through the rocks and out into the grassy area down by the river and she needed to stretch her legs out and really run her, so I was happy for her to go (I never like to feel like I’m holding anybody back — I thoroughly enjoy being out on the trail by myself, so I’m never upset when friends move ahead). We came up to the aid station…which surprised me; we’d obviously added some extra distance last weekend by going away from the aid station and then doubling back, so I was shocked when I looked at my watch (40:12 for the first 5K). Quick refill of water and I was off.
Realizing that I was going to be running LESS than I’d originally thought made me all peppy and happy and once I got to the top of the bluff, I started trying to pick it up. More rocks, more technical downhills, more climbs up and through bouldery pathways — the more technical it gets, the more of my fellow mid-to-back-packers I can pick off. Again, I passed several people. As we went through the gorge, I could see Claire on the other side: woohooo! I knew we had screwed up this portion last weekend, and again I was pleasantly surprised to find that the actual course was easier and shorter than what we’d bungled around doing. Again, I caught a couple of people.
I was running with Joanna; we were working it on the flats up along the top of the bluffs when of course I caught a foot on a rock and sprawled out, thankfully missing cacti and other rocks. No biggie; on we went. The trail pops back out onto the jeep road (yuck) and that was a very gentle rise followed by downhill into the finish area. I tried to pick it up and make sure no one passed me back on the way in (though a woman named Pam had managed to recover and pass me back on the flats). The second, more technical 5K took me 42:41.
I was pleased with my total 10K time (1:22), which was 2 minutes faster than my time out at the Loop. The Loop is an easier course — and well known to me PLUS one of my favorites — so I has very happy at the improvement, which just goes to show the value of three more weeks of recovery. 1:22 is slow compared to my 30K loops from my last Trail Series races but that’s okay. Then, I was coming off a lot of trail running and half IM preparation…and, in hind sight, in really good shape. For everything that’s gone on since last November, I’m quite happy with the time and the improvement.
Claire was there at the finish; we hung out and chatted and cleaned the dirt and blood off of our bodies with some cold handtowels I’d brought. I refueled and took off to do a second loop for my long run. Since it would be my longest run since my surgery, I planned to take it very easy and enjoy the scenery. I was MUCH slower on the first half of the loop especially; I think I came into the aid station at 50+ minutes (I didn’t get a split). I felt so amazingly good that I tried to move a bit faster on the second half. For most of my loop, I was completely alone, as I had managed to jump in behind the race leaders and before the majority of the pack. I finished running strong and feeling good with a time of 1:46 for the second loop. All in all, my 20K took 3:08.
I feel like I’m right where I need to be and am happy with my progress. The morning was capped off with a cold Fat Tire and yummy trail burger and chat with friends. Good day!