Monday, February 25, 2013

How to Have Fun on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup

Number 1, find someone willing to do foolish things with you.  Your chances seem better with younger folk, but I am 40.  Plus my friend Bernie who's 48 seems to be willing to do foolish things so maybe age doesn't matter.  My foolish someone this weekend, Everett Russell, a La Sportiva Marketing guy.

Number 2, don't worry if what you doing seems necessarily wise.  This sounds seems odd for me to be saying as I told Everett that one of the life lessons I think people should learn is to stop and ask yourself, "Is this a stupid thing to do?"

Number 3, run more on trails... at any time.

To shorten my foolish story, I drove up to Reading, PA with Ryan Woods on Saturday for the Chilly Cheeks trail race as it is on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.  Ryan wisely chose to run near the hotel, get something to eat, and relax at the hotel.  I got Everett to meet me and we went over to run the course in the dark, in a light rain and heavy fog.  The Petzl headlamps were a must for rough trails and no moon.  The new Nao light is like having a car headlight lighting the way.  Not sure exactly where the course was, we roamed around a bit until we found some flagging.  We were running it backwards, but that works for me.  It was muddy, so at times you'd start sliding downhill and it was best to just go with it.  It was rocky, so it was best not to crash down onto them.  It was really foggy, so it was just really hard to see some rockiness, mud, or even course markings.  It was a blast and great to get to know Everett more.  It was the right kind to stupid for my head.

Everett and I got some food.  Then I went back to the hotel to grope Ryan's butt.  He made me do it.  Don't take me too seriously, Ryan is a professional... chiropractor.  He was just having me help him do some active release on a tight glute muscle.  But I am going to try it on Alison.  I then did some self massage which I have been doing quite a lot of lately, seriously.  Actually, I think it has helped a lot with my back issues.  So back to Reading.  Shortly after we got there race morning, I saw Matt Byrne who I expected to be there.  Later I saw Jordan McDougal.  I knew he'd be quick and near the front.  I've gotten to know several folks up in that area from the races I do there, plus several come down to my 10km Trail Championship every year.  It was good to see some of them.  Megan Kimmel was also out from Colorado for the women.  Races seem to be almost as much visit with friends as race.

Photo from last years finish.
I had been tight all week from the Red Hot race and actually took a couple days completely off.  Instead of running, I did an hour plus of yoga and another hour plus of self massage one day.  Then on the other day off, I did more than 2 hours of self massage.  I was a little unsure how the race would go. Quite a few guys went out fast.  I had seen the first mile of the course during warmup and decided to be a little conservative.  There was steep, bushwhacking scrabble about a 1/2 mile into the race.  I was back past 10 place.  Once up that on the road briefly before the trail I settled into 8th.  My legs were still feeling the Moab.  Nothing hurt, there just wasn't a lot of life and I noticed it most on the climbing.  Plus I spent a lot of the race thinking about various things, not entirely focused on racing.  I had moved up to 5th about 3 miles in and could see the white singlet of 4th throughout and often catch sight of another yellow La Sportiva singlet.  I thought this was Ryan, but it turned out to be Matt.  I kept thinking if I could keep focus I might catch 3rd, but I kept having trouble with the focusing thing.  Eventually I stopped seeing the yellow singlet and just tried to focus on 4th.

Coming up to the aid station at 4 miles I could hear the cheering for 3rd as I was close enough to know it was not for the 4th place guy.  I was told that I was 2+ minutes back of first.  I was actually surprised to hear I was that close with how I felt and my lack of focus.  As I was nearing the big, technical climb at 5 miles, I was closing on 4th.  I put my head down and set about closing the gap.  A couple of minutes later, I looked up to see Ryan coming back down from missing a turn.  I took the turn right in behind 4th and Ryan.  Honestly, I knew the next 1 and 1/2 miles were technical and suited my strengths.  My instincts were to race.  Ryan and I traded place a couple of times across the hill.  We turned steeply up and I thought I could pull by, so did.  Then it was my kind of tough, technical down.  I got a small gap on Ryan in getting down the next 3/4 mile.  Now we were on more flat terrain for a almost 1/4 mile.  I knew Ryan was close, then I could hear him closing.  I knew there was a short trail and steep climb about 150 yards from the finish.  I thought to just run like the turn onto the trail was the finish.  As I turned onto the trail, I could tell Ryan was now on top of me.  Then I looked up to see Matt.  I had a quick thought of whether I could catch Matt, but knew he was only 50 or so yards from the finish.  There was a guardrail to go over which I hopped cleanly.  Now we were on the climb and I knew it would be hard for Ryan to get by there.  But there was a flat 30-40 yards at the top.  I hopped over the last big rock at the top and sprinted.  Ryan was right on me, but said that me hopping up that last rock left him with no chance to sprint in with me.

 I felt a bit bad about beating Ryan that way, but between gun and finish all my instincts are race.  I then found out that Ryan had actually been in 2nd when he went off course.  I had been seeing Matt throughout the majority of the race.  I felt bad for Ryan.  He was really cool about it and knows that's one of the sucky things with trail racing.  I had a missed turn last year in New Mexico that ruined a race.  It just sucks.  On the drive home, Ryan pointed out that I had been 5 minutes behind he and Matt last year.  Last year was a similar distance and in the same area of trails.  I was just 11 seconds behind Matt and 2:48 behind Jordan.  I am feeling quick.  I'm looking forward to next weekend at Nueces and feeling really good about my fitness and speed going into it.  Especially with my races these last two weeks.  I have done a bit more speed work on the track this winter.  Plus I've done 10 x 1 mile with 1 minute recovery a few times over the winter.  My last mile repeat workout started in the low 5:50s and finished at 5:45.  I'll see how it goes in a week.

If you want to see my race coverage and Mountain Cup standings report, go to  Also if any of the folks up in PA got some pictures again this year, I like to get a couple again.  I really appreciate the ones I got last year.  Sorry I wasn't able to stay and visit more.  I hope to see you at my 10K this year.

1 comment: