23 January 2013

San Diego Trail Marathon

This past Saturday I returned to racing, completing the first ever San Diego Trail Marathon at the San Dieguito River Park hosted by Off Road Pursuits.  The Marathon was being held in conjunction with the San Diego 50 mile and the marathon course was run over much of the same route as the Lake Hodges 50k in reverse, with the start/finish being at the turn around of the 50k.  The goal was to run as comfortable as possible for as long as possible and remember that I was using this race as an opportunity to log long miles and practice fueling.  As I did in 2012 my plan is to run some early marathons in preparation for ultra races that I have planned later in the year.

The morning of the race I got up at 5 and had a smoothie (consisting of pear, banana, strawberries, blueberries, avocado, sweet potatoes, C20 Coconut Water and a scoop and SFH Chocolate Whey Protein),  a Bonk Breaker Bar and a Tbs. of SFH S03 Omega 3 Oil.  I grabbed my gear bag and a pre-made bottle of SFH In-Race formula and headed to the race.  I was stoked that the race was close and that I was pretty familiar with the course.

I purposely restricted my warm up to calisthenics and drills so that I wouldn't be tempted to run to hard to early.  I did just enough to be warm and feel good running at the start.  After a few words from race director Paul Jesse about the aid stations and the course markings we got going.  I started my feed timer on my watch and off we went.  Since Noble Canyon I've only been racing with a feed timer, no running time or gps.  I've found that this has been a key to my improved racing over the longer distances as it allows my to focus on how I feel and nothing else.  

Once we got rolling I settled into 8th place and stayed there until the first climb of the course, Raptor Ridge.  When I hit the base of the Raptor I began my climbing mantra "your climbing better then most" and one by one I started to catch a few of the runners that had been in front of me.  As I rolled in to the first aid station I had moved from 8th into 5th.  Since I was carrying my SFH in my bottle I grabbed to cup of water before heading out of the first aid station.  

For most of the race I ran Darren Rentch, a beast of an Ironman Triathlete from the East Coast running his first trail marathon and through the middle miles we stayed in 5th keeping 4th in our sites.  As we entered what I thought was the second aid station (10 miles) I grabbed a cup a water and the nice girl at the table kindly told us that it wasn't the 10 mile mark.  Bummer... I thought for a second, but judging by how many times my feed timer had gone off and being on a course I was familiar with I knew it couldn't be much further up the road.  Sure enough a few more minutes up the road and we were at the 10 mile mark.  Since we had already stopped for water we rolled through the aid station.   As we made our way to the turn around we passed the 4th and 3rd place runners and now it was only a matter of time until we got to see how the first two runners looked as they were heading for home.  I saw first place Igor Campos and he looked strong as did second place Damian Rodriquez. With trail racing it can be deceiving judging runners, especially if your climbing and they're bombing a descent but in this instance they both looked strong and I figured it we would be holding 3rd place until the finish.

When we hit the turn around I grabbed a cup of water and a cup of Rocket Fuel (coke the liquid kind of course) and off we went with 13.1 to go.  I know coke isn't the cleanest fuel but it works and never seems to upset my stomach when I race.  The plan was to negative spilt and since the legs were still feeling fresh I upped the pace to see what I had in me.  We started rolling and after the race Darren noted that we were running in the 6:30's on a few of the flatter sections. Even though I knew I could handle the rest of the race without fuel I continued to fuel every 15 minutes with my SFH In-Race.  We rolled into the final aid station at the bottom of Raptor, I was feeling content with the pace and was prepared to run rest of the way at a similar clip. 

I had finished my SFH and decide to grab another Rocket Fuel before hitting the climb.  The final aid station was manned by fellow ultra runners and neighborhood training partners Dax Ross, Chris Sigel and Cory Chapman they told us "2nd looked like he was hurting a bit and was 3-4 minutes up the trail."  Hearing that Darren said "We're getting him! I know you want to take it easy but were getting him!"  With that, the switch was flipped and I decided to see what I had in me over the final miles.  No sooner did I start the climb did Every Single Day come on the iPod.  

At this point I was climbing like a man possessed hell bent on pushing myself to the limit, grinding until the wheels came off.  From Raptor Ridge until the finish a ran solo using my mantras whenever my my would wander or tell me to ease up.  When I got to the finish I was pleasantly surprised to see the clock  at 3:15:47.   It was a great day on the trails and the weather was awesome, a great reminder as to why I live in San Diego.  Finishing the SD Trail Marathon has left me hungry and excited for the 2013 race schedule!  Many thanks to RD Paul Jesse for putting on another epic event with Off Road Pursuits.  I'd also like to thank all the volunteers at all the aid stations for making the race such an unbelievable experience.  Here's to another epic year of racing! StopMe