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XTERRA White Tanks Trail Run 20K - Run20k

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Waddell, Arizona
United States
Total Time = 1h 43m 52s
Overall Rank = 24/118
Age Group = M 35-39
Age Group Rank = 5/24
Pre-race routine:

Came down with the flu the night before so woke up early, took two Sudafed, small bowl of oats and ate a banana along with a cup of coffee while making the 50 minute drive out to the mountains.
Event warmup:

1.5 mile warm up run through the park roads
  • 00m
  • 12.43 miles
  •  min/mile

Just beginning taper of my marathon build (Pfitz 12/70) so wanted to come out, run it, crush it best I could and get home healthy. Waking up with my head wanting to explode and my throat sore as can be was not a good start. I was suppose to carpool with some friends but since one of them had child in tow I decided to drive myself and not subject them to this virus.

On to the race. First off, I need to start positioning myself more advantageously for these things as I realized I tend to start to far back. Not a big deal on a road race but on these narrow trails with nowhere to pass I end up losing a lot of free time following slower people.

Anyway, at the gun I was positioned mid pack next to my friend Julie (who took 3rd female overall) and we ran together for the first mile or so. Once the pack ahead started to space out some I made my move to bring my pace up to race pace and immediately started dicing around people when there was room. At the 2.5 mile mark you hit switchbacks and begin 3.5-4 miles of climbing all that 1500+ feet. It was also here that I could get a good look at who was ahead of me and began making mental targets of people I was going to pass. This was also the most technical aspect of the trail and as careful as you had to be going up, I knew it was going to be very tricky descending this...boy did I call that.

I was surprised to find that the trail actually leveled out a little bit 3/4 of the way through the climb, once you started looping around the mountain. It was a nice reprieve from all the ascending and provided a good opportunity to get the heart rate back down and slow the breathing. I felt like I was putting forth a good effort on the climb but was holding back a little bit, primarily because having never been on these trails before I didn't really know exactly what lie ahead. I was still reeling in people one by one and stepping around them, moving up. All of the runners were amazingly considerate and I often found then saying "If you need around, just let me know when you want to go". Kudos to them!

While I was making my way around people I could hear someone right on my heels. I gave the same "do you need room" offer but he said he was fine sitting on my heels and him and I worked together, picking up the pace even more and really clicking off some times. At one point I found us running sub 6 miles in the flats and was amazed at how effortless it felt, yay for marathon training. Finally when we hit the last climb of the day around mile 5.5 I heard him right on my heels and in a blink he pulled around and was GONE. Dang, effortless! At that point I'd make a mental note to catch him before this was all done as I'm a lousy climber. It was also during this time I spotted three more guys ahead of us and promised myself I'd catch them as well. I kept telling myself everyone in front of me was in my age group and I HAD to catch them.

By the end of the last climb around mile 6.2 I had caught one of the three guys and pulled around. The trail leveled for a bit and then turned downhill and we started descending like mad men. It wasn't long before I caught the next guy I had targeted back on that climb and number three wasn't too far ahead, maybe a quarter mile. The guy that passed me on the climb was still way off in the distance and I wondered if I could make the time up on him. After a couple minutes I finally caught number three and he picked his pace up even more so I followed him for a bit. Finally the trail provided a little extra room and I went around, letting it out even more with less than 5 miles left in hopes of catching that hill guy.

Flying, that's what it felt like coming down that mountain. And every time I could catch a peak at that hill guy in front of me he was seemingly getting a little bit closer. I knew it, I knew I could real him in after all. By mile 8.5-9 the trail was still descending rapidly and was very technical, with rocks jutting out everywhere. It was a difficult balance of speed and foot placement. Before I knew it I rounded a corner, headed towards those switchbacks again and bam, there he was not 20 feet in front of me and another guy not too far in front of him. "I've got two more spots" I told myself and smiled, all the while still flying down the hill and making time on them.

Then it happened, the stumble. Basking in the glory of catching the guy I so wanted to catch I missed a foot placement and caught a rock, stumbling. This was going to hurt if I went down and this was not the best, safest place to do it. I caught myself, sort of and just as I started to right myself I caught another rock and down I went. Left knee took the full fall straight onto the biggest rock I could find. This was followed by my right knee, then my right arm/shoulder, full somersault and then I stood up, shocked at what had just happened. I felt ok but stunned and the guy I had caught asked if I was ok. "Yeah I'm fine....I think" I replied. I took a step and it hurt. I looked down and saw the open skin, the blood and for a moment what I thought was bone. There goes all my marathon prep! Couple deep breaths standing there I assessed the damage a little closer and on feeling what I thought was bone I took a sigh of relief that it was only skin bubbling out of the gash. Ok, I can run again and I started to go but it hurt. My flying descent instantly relegated to a limping hobble trying only to not fall over again. As I'm barely making progress I get passed by three of the guys I'd over taken earlier. "Just make it home" became the new mantra.

I limped, hobbled and cussed for what seemed like forever but all told was probably five minutes. I was moving forward and I wasn't walking but I wasn't setting any records. Then suddenly the pain was gone. I picked up the pace a bit to test it and it felt fine. Picked it up even more and no issues. I was back on track and with a smile on my face I told myself to go catch the guys that just passed me. By the end of the switchbacks I gobbled up one of the three and could see the other two in the distance.

The trail leveled off for the final 2 miles into the finish. I was starting to feel gassed and disappointed knowing the fall cost me a lot of time and possible positions. I really wanted to get onto the podium at this event and I knew it was more than likely a pipe dream now. Nevertheless, there were still people ahead to catch and I was going to do so. Plodding along, picking it up I was steadily making time on the two ahead who were running together. Around the 1 to 1.5 mile to go mark the 20k race merged in with the 8k racers and just before then I caught and worked my way around the lat two guys that had passed me. Ran it as strong as I could the rest of the way in, at least happy in knowing I stuck it out and caught everyone I could.
What would you do differently?:

Pick my feet up and not fall.
Post race
Warm down:

Stopped by the medical lady (she was so sweet) and got my knee scrubbed and cleaned up. Apparently there was a lot of blood left on those trails as there were a lot of people with knees similar to mine.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing, I felt great and had I not fell would have posted a pretty good time. Probably still not a podium as there were some fast guys out there but I could have at least pulled into 4th.

Event comments:

Another great, well organized, fun Xterra trail race event. I missed this one last year and now can't wait to run it again next year.

Last updated: 2013-01-10 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 12.43 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/24
Overall: 0/118
Performance: Good
Course: 20K trail race w/ ~1500' of elevation through the White Tank Mountains. Narrow trails, often fairly technical in areas with lots of exposed rock.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2013-01-10 3:28 PM

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: XTERRA White Tanks Trail Run 20K

2013-01-11 11:05 AM
in reply to: #4572676

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the desert
Subject: RE: XTERRA White Tanks Trail Run 20K
Nice race. I had the opposite effect- felt like I was flying down the mountain too, but people were running by me like I was standing still. There was a point in those final 2 miles where I felt gassed also - must have been the terrain and a slight uphill (that's what I'm telling myself).Great race and best of luck with the marathon.
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