A couple weeks ago, we took a short vacation to the Seattle area for a trail race that I figured would be excellent training for Badger. Because this would be 100% about training, I had no expectations other than to have an amazing (fun) day on some new trails. I knew this would be a tough race - the 50k (which I had initially signed up for) boasted over 5000' elevation gain. After reading through a couple race recaps, I knew that the first couple miles were mostly uphill and that conditions would be muddy.
The day prior to the race, we decided to check out the course to get an idea of what we were in for. My husband had signed up for the 10 miler that he planned on hiking with our dog. After scoping out the course, he said to me, "I am going to be sore but you'll be immobilized." The trail was muddier than expected and everywhere you turned, there was a decent incline. In the short two mile shakeout run that I did, I managed to climb up four hills and splash mud clear up to my crotch.
I wont bore you with my entire routine so I'll just give you the brief synopsis of race day....
The race was in Lord Hill Regional Park. The trails are beautiful....a glorious place to run! This was a looped event. It was a ten mile loop, each loop gaining roughly 1700' feet. I lost about 15 minutes on the first 10 mile loop due to a couple gear malfunctions. It was freezing at the start so I made the decision to keep my sweatshirt on....this was immediately regretted as we began climbing a mountain within the first mile. During the second major climb, I attempted to remove the extra layer while walking but that proved too challenging given that I had my hydration pack on. I had to pull aside to get situated. Because of all the climbing, the first three miles took much longer than "normal"....I figured I should sip on some of the Tailwind in my hydration pack....and then was horrified when no fluid was coming out of the nozzle. I decided to pull aside again to fix that.
Following the first loop, I was warmed up and getting in my groove. However, I began feeling some hamstring tightness as I started the steepest ascent of the second loop. The tightness bordered on pain. As I continued to climb and descend, it worsened. I started having to walk long sections. I made the cautious decision to stop at 20 miles (distance transfers were allowed). I was bummed because I didn't feel physically spent. I had so much left in me....I know that I could have finished another loop. There is no doubt in my mind. It would not have been the fastest 10 miles that I've ever banged out but still.... I just didn't want to risk injury when I have so much on the agenda. Lord Hill was a spontaneous addition to my schedule. On the other hand, Badger Mountain is a "goal race" and I need to arrive there in fighting shape.
After I finished the 20 miles, I hiked the course in reverse to find Jeff. After about 1.5 miles, we connected and I walked with him until he finished.
We arrived home last night after a six hour adventure, exhausted and sore. I hopped on the bike trainer for an easy 10 mile pedal to loosen up some lingering muscle stiffness. This morning, I went on a seven mile run and felt great....I wanted to keep running but you know, work.... In retrospect, I was probably too cautious in this race. I'll be honest, I still battle with the decision that I made. More than likely, I just was a bit under-trained for the steep climbs and that was why the good ol' hamstrings rebelled. I could have fought through the discomfort and been fine. On a positive note....I won my age division! This comes as a bit of a shock given that I felt that I was going slooooowwww. I wonder what I could have accomplished had I pushed harder!