Monday, July 9, 2012

Race Report: All Out Trail Run

Unlike the Exeter trail race, this was so much better. This race is the first one in a series of the Western New Hampshire Trail Series. If the rest of these races is anything like this one, I'm sold.

I originally decided to do the series because it gave me a chance to see parts of New Hampshire that I hadn't seen before. I have lived here for 5 years now (wow!), but I really haven't ventured out as much as I should have. This series gave me a great excuse.

With the series, you pay one price for all of the races and then you can go to as many as you want. There are a few that I won't be doing due to my schedule or because the races are too "technical" or I've done them before and hated them. At any rate, I'm doing five or so of the series and I'm really enjoying myself.

The All Out Trail Race was in Claremont, very close to the Vermont border. I had to navigate through some very small, but pretty, towns on the way there. It took me almost 90 minutes from my house, but I made it with plenty of time to spare.

I took my fuel belt, and I was really glad that I did because there was no water on the course. The race is billed as a 5-mile trail run. I met friends there who had done the previous race and they said that the course was nowhere as technical as Exeter. Thank goodness.

A crowd of 50-75 people gathered and there were brief race announcements, and then we were off. We circled the parking lot and then headed into the woods. This was a somewhat technical course, but no rocks and considerably fewer roots. It was also much better marked with arrows on the ground and a few feet up on trees. I was never concerned that I was going to get lost during the course.

I spent a lot of the time behind a few people and I tended to run when they ran and walk when they did. It helped me to make sure that I wasn't getting lost and it kept me on a decent pace. I knew again that I wasn't going to have the speed of a road race, but I was pretty happy with how it was going.

There were a couple serious hills and there was one long mile-length hill at the end of the course. It was a gradual hill, but still a gradual hill that's a mile long at the end is never all that gradual to me. I finished and was happy to have completed the race within an hour.

I finished the race with a dead sprint with one of the women I was running with. As we got to the last turn, I asked if she wanted to sprint in. She agreed and we took off. I'm happy to say that I won that little sprint, but I think it's a good indicator to me that I left something on the course. Oh well.

The awards ceremony and raffle was cool. They were giving away breakfast sausage and bacon as prizes, and the race director was a lot of fun and super laid back. It was great to see a good small town race. I'll definitely be back and am looking forward to the next race in the series, the Wild Cat Wander.


Distance: 5.08 miles
Time: 1:01:06
Pace: 12:02/mile
Calories burned: 693

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Race Report: Exeter Trail Race

I remain quite behind in my race reports. I actually ran this race on June 10, 2012.

In summary: woah. I was unbelievably exhausted and lucky not to have gotten hurt. (Unlike this time)

It's the most tired that I've been since my first marathon. That  may be a function of my current fitness level or a function of the craziness of the course or both. I'd suggest both.

When I got back into my training this year, I started to up my mileage so that I was in the 10-mile range. I had completed a couple 10-mile runs in the dead heat, so I knew that I could do the distance (again--in the past, this wasn't an issue... ugh.).

There were two options for the Exeter trail race: a 4.5-mile and a 10-mile race. Since my mileage has been somewhat decent of late, I wanted to do the 10-mile race. Besides, it was the same price, so why not get my money's worth out of it, right? Right?

Well, not really. The race was well attended with about 100 participants, a lot of whom were on the Acidotic Racing team. That should have clued me in that this was no normal race. In the description, they said that this was a very "technical" course. I now know what that means.

We started and quickly got into a fast single file line into the woods. We were immediately dodging roots and rocks and trees, and not even 5 minutes into it, I knew this was going to be a nutty race. The pack thinned out pretty quickly, but I was still having a bit of a difficult time.

I don't train on trails, so I'm not used to only being able to look down when I train. There aren't many big rocks on the sidewalks that I run on, so this was a new challenge. I found that I spent the entire race looking down to make sure that I didn't trip and then stopping from time to time to see if I could figure out where the heck I was going.

The trail wasn't decently marked in that there were a lot of markings. It was poorly marked in that most of the markings were pink flags at eye level. Or rather, it would be eye level if you were looking up. Eye level for me was the ground.

I knew that my pace would be slower for this, but I had no idea how slow it would be. I took my Garmin watch to give me an idea of where I was. I thought that it wouldn't be anywhere close to accurate since 99% of the race was in the woods. When I saw that I was only at 4 miles, I thought that the GPS had to be wrong and that I was certainly much farther. After all, it had almost been an hour. It turns out that my watch was incredibly accurate.

The race was filled with lots of hills and quite a bit more walking than I'd prefer. Some of the walking was to give myself a break. Other times I was walking because the course was too treacherous to safely navigate on the run. I wanted to live to see another race, and I wasn't about to take any more risks that I had to.

For the most part, I didn't have too many issues with the roots and rocks and trees. I was extremely careful (probably more careful than most). I did however hit my right foot on a rock so hard that I thought I broke my toe. I stopped and made sure that I could move it. Thankfully I could and I soldiered on.

After 2 hours, I was finally at the finish. I was exhausted, but very happy to have it over. Because of the course, I don't think that I'd do this race again. I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected, and I don't think that I could responsibly race it without putting myself at risk for an injury. Other trail races have been much better, so I think I'll still with less "technical" courses.

Miles: 10
Time: 2:12:13
Pace: 13:42/mile
Calories burned: 1,212