02 December 2012

Race Report - Hemlock 5.5 Mile Trail Race

Sarah and I are excited to use our new pint glasses
One of my favorite, *favorite* ways to spend a weekend morning is doing a race.  Bonus points with a cherry on top if a bunch of my friends are also signed up for the same race.  Bonus points with a cherry AND sprinkles on top if I execute a smart race and and manage to place well.

The Hemlock 5.5 mile trail race was the last race in the Fall 2012 Backyard Burn series put on by EX2 Adventures.  They put on a really great race every time, with a fun course, friendly and helpful volunteers, age group awards 5 deep, and TONS of food for participants to enjoy post-race (any time there are M&Ms and hot chocolate with marshmallows, I call that a win).  I haven't done all of the BYB courses, but I've heard that Hemlock is one of the tougher ones, as it's both hilly and technical.

Since it's the offseason, I've been enjoying myself.  This has meant later bedtimes (I blame part of that on still feeling like I'm on Mountain time from spending Thanksgiving in Phoenix), apple pie every night (and maybe every day too), daily hot chocolates, and last night at my office holiday party I went a little overboard with the cakepops and mousse shooters (non alcoholic, but highly addictive).

I woke up this morning not feeling very ready to race.  Damn you cakepops.  I hit snooze for A HALF AN HOUR before finally hauling myself out of bed at 7am.  I got to the race site a little on the late side, but this made for a great excuse to do a prerace warmup as I made a beeline from my car to the packet pickup desk.  I ran into a few friends at packet pickup and on my way to the start line.  I huddled together with Sarah as we tried to stay warm while we waited for the race to start.  I wasn't nervous and after starting too quickly at the Wakefield Backyard Burn and doing the crash-and-burn by the end, I planned to race smarter this time around.  I would start off more conservatively and, if my legs had it in them, try to pick up the pace at the end.  I would not blow myself up on the hills.  I would be careful on the downhills and technical rock sections.  I also would do my best not to slip and fall into the river.

The race started and we went running down a paved road, which turned onto a gravel road for the first half mile or so.  This was good because the race course didn't narrow down until a bit later, once we'd had a chance to spread out a bit.  I went out at a past that felt a little fast but relatively sustainable.  I could see a number of girls ahead of me, but I wasn't sure how many were in the 5 mile race and how many were doing the 10.  I passed a few girls before we hit the single track part of the course.  During these portions, I spent alot of time looking down to make sure my footing was solid and whenever we hit a flat or downhill section that was relatively free from rocks and roots, I'd try to pick up the pace a bit.  I passed a few more people here and there, and when we looped by the river the first time, I had caught up to a couple of girls.  We hit an uphill section shortly thereafter that had a few technical parts, so I fell behind a bit, but tried to regain ground as things flattened out.  I think we were about 2.5 miles into the race by this point and that's when I started to worry a little that I had gone out too hard, my legs were feeling heavy and I was breathing pretty hard.  I didn't see any girls super close behind me, but I didn't want to slow down too much because I could just picture a girl zooming by me when I got too complacent.  As we looped by the finish area to head down another trail back towards the river, we hit another technical downhill section.  This then lead to a rocky part of the trail that went by the river.  I focused on staying upright, not speed, during these parts.  I really didn't want to trip and fall.  After this part we had a long uphill - neverending uphill, really - and my pace slowed to a crawl as I shuffled up the hill, keeping one of my top goals in mind (don't blow up).  I caught up to a couple girls doing the 10 miler and right around the 4.5 mile mark, I caught up to another girl doing the 5 miler.  I was so close behind her, I could've reached out and grabbed her shoulder.  We were huffing and puffing our way up a hill on a narrow section of the trail.  I thought about trying to make a move to get around her, but I felt like I was already maxed out and she was on the heels of two other people and I didn't think I'd be able to get around all three.  I decided I'd try once we got to the top of the hill and things widened out, but she took off like a rabbit and I just had nothing left in my legs to answer.  She crossed the finish line about 12 seconds ahead of me and I crossed in 43:03.

Women's Overall Podium doing some cheers-ing
I had no idea what place I was overall, or in my age group, during the race.  I ended up 3rd girl overall and first in my age group (the first two overall were 24, so I have many, many years before they join my AG, phew!).  I took a look back at my time from last year and I was over a minute faster, so I'm really happy with that improvement.  I think it helped that I knew what to expect from the course after doing it last year.  I didn't run with a watch; I raced on feel.  I love not using a watch during the off-season, it really allows me to focus on racing those around me and not the clock.  Plus it lessens the likelihood that I trip since I'm not constantly looking at my wrist instead of watching out for roots and rocks.

Freezing cold Women's 30-39 podium with Kerri
Favorite part of the day (besides eating M&Ms like there was no tomorrow) was hanging out with some great friends.  Sarah, Bob (my pie-baking partner in crime.  We need to have a pie-off one of these days), Dave, Kerri, William and Rohan had really fantastic races today.  Many pint glasses were passed around.

We hold our own while running, but you should see us bake pies.


Marc Nelson said...

It seems you enjoyed a lot during the offseason. I love apple pie and hot chocolates too.Hope you enjoyed the office holiday party too.

goats weed

Tyler said...

Glad to see you had a great time at the BYB! Hope you come out to our races next year.