Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bluff Race Report

It was hot as hell last weekend. And the course was tough. In fact the course was made extra especially tough by race director (and my AWESOME coach). He had been out there building that thing since we started our trail series program in April. I guess some people had complained that his previous courses were not challenging enough, so he wanted to prove them wrong. Oh yeah.
The course was laid out in two out and back loops. The first was really quite easy, along the jeep road through the pasture and back. Easy to run too fast. A lot of people passed me on the way out there. Of course I passed em back on the way back through the creek bed (where our Bull Creek repeats paid off big time!!!) After burning up those 2 miles we headed over to the Bluff. It was nice to have some spectators as we passed through the start finish area, but mainly it was hot and dusty with lots of nasty technical terrain ahead. Even the pretty run on the top of the bluff overlooking the Pedernales was technical enough to require total concentration. I settled in with some ladies I recognized from Hill Country Trail runners and put in my work. The first drop down off the bluff in to the boulders was a fast hike with lots of climbing. At the first over/under obstacle I totally wacked the back of my head on a tree. The distance from this point to the first aid station was an eternity.
I get terrible data from my garmin (301 OLD SCHOOL) so for this race I left it at home. The last two races, where I knew the course a lot better, the distance reading was .5 miles off. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but its frustrating to show up at the finish line with enough gas for another half mile. On this stretch of the course I actually asked someone how far we were from the aid station. Since the pace was so erratic, and I couldn't actually run any of this, it was hard to calculate anything.
Having taken some HEED and running with my camelback, I didn't stop long at the aid station. Here I lost the HCTR ladies and tried to sort of go-for-it. I mean, there could only be 3.1 miles left, and at least .5 or .75 of that was jeep road. I was also inspired by some of the 30km leaders galloping past me. It was motivation to keep up with them to see how they navigated the terrain.
The second part of the course was more of the same. Tough technical terrain, lots of boulders and logs to climb over. Just when I thought to myself "That's gotta be the last ascent/descent I would round a corner and find another. I got a little nostalgic for the tough stuff and really wanted to get some space alone where I could get my groove on. With all the hiking and narrow trails, I had a lot more company and people running way to close behind me for my liking. I passed these really annoying people (classic road runner types who would later speed up on the jeep trail to pass me) and started to get some speed up. Back on the top of the bluff there was a lot more room to work, and I really enjoyed this part of the course. It was also in this area I caught a lot of the people who were passing me in the pasture at the start of the run. They were burnt out and walking back to the finish. Once I was on the jeep road, I was not slowing a bit. It was getting hot and I wanted it to be over. I was really starting to feel the heat and the burn in my quads from all the up and downs. I finshed really strong (despite the PISSED off look in my face and felt a great deal of pride for committing to, training for and finishing all three races (plus a 25km my longest distance yet!) in the Rogue Trail Series.
I had a great time after the race chatting with some of the others in my group and also cheering on our 30km teammates. I don't usually stick around for the post race festivities, but since were there and had paid for day access, we brought a cooler and floats and headed down to the river after burgers and beer and cheers for our teammates.
It was so wonderful to be floating in the river with a cold beer at the end of the race. My only possible complaint being that the river could have been a little colder. We drank a six pack and chilled out and headed back to town around noon. Another great race on the books.

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