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Xterra Trail Series Estrella Mountain 20K - Run20k

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Goodyear, Arizona
United States
AZ Trail Race
70F / 21C
Total Time = 1h 42m
Overall Rank = 25/
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 4/
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 4:30am, downed some java and a bowl of cereal and hit the road for the 40 minute drive to the venue.
  • 00m
  • 12.43 miles
  •  min/mile

My only goal for this race was to finish strong, regardless of where I placed. I do not run a lot of trails but did run this race (and series) last year so I was anxious to see what kind of PR I could lay down. Typically, I have been known to go out a bit too hard on trail events (helpless without being able to look at mile split pace number) so I told myself I was going to start slow, almost too slow, and stick with it until at least clearing the first climb and into mile four.

At the gun I was sitting mid pack as we crossed under the start line and the pack of runners began to funnel into single file as we hit the single trek. I was trotting along, already feeling painfully slow as I kept telling myself to just stay put, don't waste any energy trying to jump out and around people. My effort was pretty minimal and my RPE meter felt like I was out on a leisurely training run; perfect! After the first mile my gf came up from behind somewhere and went around me so I tucked onto her heels and followed her through the first major climb. The trail turned downhill and I fought back the urge to surge around her as we were making pretty decent progress and I wanted to continue saving my effort a little bit.

We hit the second, less critical climb, picking off a few more packs of runners and then came upon the aid station at mile four. It was at that point I decided to kick it up a couple notches and put some ground on some people. Slowly I began to pull away from my gf and up the trail I could see my next target, a local female pro triathlete. After a mile I reeled her in and was in search of my next victim. The trail at this point was rolling, more descent than anything but nothing major.

Around mile 7 I hit the biggest climb of the run (one I was gassed and walked last year) and chugged my way up problem free. I knew those hill repeats would come in handy this year. After cresting the top of the hill and with roughly 5 miles left I gave myself permission to use high gear and go hunting for more victims. The next couple of runners were quite a ways up and it made for some desolate moments back in the trails with nobody around me. Every so often I would catch a glimpse of the next pack of runners some ways up, bobbing up from the vegetation. Just as I was beginning to wonder if I would catch anyone of them I round a corner and see one roughly a quarter mile up and I was pulling ground fast. Just like that I was around him and could see the next person in line, another 200 yards up the trail and then bam, around him as well. I was having an absolute blast and was flying. In retrospect, given how much I had left at that point, I probably could have pushed the start a bit more and been ok but trail racing is still a work in progress for me.

As I clear mile 9 (or somewhere around there) I spot another person just up the trail and I'm closing fast again. A glance at my watch and on this fairly flat stretch I'm laying down 6 minute miles, no wonder I'm having fun. As I catch him and pull around he makes a comment to the tune of "Dang, nice kick into the finish man." and went on to say something about my strategy for taking it so easy at the beginning in order to hunt people down at the end. We had a laugh, I thanked him, told him he was looking strong and he asked a couple questions about the last couple of miles of course. I explained it was fairly flat with a slight run up over the last 1/4 mile and then I was on my way.

As I pulled away from him and rolled into the aid station I grabbed a cup of water and laid eyes on the next pack of 5 runners just up the trail. I kept my kick going and new I could run every one of them down in the last 2 miles. As I was running I kept seeing them off to my left as the trail wound around and then it happened, the turn to head back up the trail to where I just saw them never came. Somewhere, somehow I missed a turn off of the fire road and back onto the aid station. It was solidified when the fire road finally merged into the single trek and I was instantly at the back of this pack.

Elation turned to disappointment. I told the guy I came out in front of to not worry about me, I accidentally cut the course and would DQ myself at the finish. I pulled my kick in so I didn't run up on any of the others as I didn't want to influence the outcome of their race by moving around them. As I finished the last climb and made the final right turn to the finish line I shut it down and coasted across.

Immediately after crossing the line I told the RD that I believed I cut the course a touch short. She grabbed a course map and said, "well let's have a look and see if you really did or not" and there it was, a short tenth of a mile section of single trek that I flew past. I confirmed it and she thanked me for being honest.

What would you do differently?:

Try not to miss a turn marker. For the next race I'm definitely going to head out and do the course training run the couple weeks prior to familiarize myself with the layout again, hopefully preventing a repeat performance.
Post race
Warm down:

Waited for my gf to come across the line and she was 3rd female overall, 1st in her AG. Grabbed some water, ate a few scoops of scrambled eggs and hung out for the awards.

Event comments:

As disappointed as I was with having to pull my results I still had more fun on this race than any other. Having such a great kick at the end made all the difference in the world and it was great running down so many people rather than trying to hang onto it to the finish. Granted I cut out a small portion of the course but even with shutting it down at the end I trimmed 15 minutes off my race time from last year. Unofficially I would have rolled in top 25 overall and 4th ag and I would like to think, given my kick and positioning just before I clipped the course, I could have ran 3rd AG down and been inside the top 20 overall. Lots to look forward for the next race in the series in January.

Last updated: 2012-10-08 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 12.43 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Course: Race #1 of a 4 race series. Trail run through the Estrella Mountain range consisting of large, loose stone trail, fairly sandy washes and roughly 1k of climbing over the course.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5]

2012-10-08 1:05 PM

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: Xterra Trail Series Estrella Mountain 20K

2012-10-08 6:53 PM
in reply to: #4445286

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Almaden Valley, San Jose, California
Subject: RE: Xterra Trail Series Estrella Mountain 20K
Completely the right thing to do - impressive.  Also, a great run!  Nice job.
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