Sunday, February 6, 2011

Red Top Rumble 11.5 Mile Trail Run

I was one of the lucky 300 racers who got into the Red Top Rumble before the race filled up in 24 hours, so that is where I spent Sunday morning. I didn't really have a strategy...go hard, go fast, maybe win?? I've been working on my running, though I have been following a 5k training plan, so I figured I might have a case of early race speed that fades at the end.

The start was surprisingly pleasnant. We started off at about 6:15 pace, though it was downhill so it felt pretty easy. The first 3.5 miles were on the gently rolling Iron Hill trail, which I know well and knew I could pretty easily run 6:45 pace. By the end of that section I only had 3 guys in front of me, which I totally did not expect (figured there would be way more in front of me), and I averaged 6:30 pace..right on target, though I could see a couple of ladies behind me in the switchbacks.

Once off the Iron Hill trail, the climbs started...lots of them as we went around the Homestead Trail. At about the 5 mile mark, I entered the Homestead Loop and still saw two women about 20 seconds back. I tried to push up the hills and hammer the downhills. At about 8 miles, the gap was still about the same, but now there was only one woman chasing me. I'll admit, I wasn't super confident since my longest run is 7-8 miles and I knew it would take a really good day for me to not slow down to some degree over the last three miles.

And I did..the climbs started to take their toll and over the next two miles, my chaser was able to close the gap. She passed me with about a mile to go. I chased on the downhill, but just couldn't stay with her on the final long climbs. Eating some Gels during the race may have helped..if I could have just maintained the gap, I might have been able to hang on to the end. I was tired though, and just couldn't turn my legs over fast enough. The race was one mile too long and I had to settle for second.

On the upside, I beat the fastest previous winning times by almost 2 minutes and I ran faster than I thought I would. My average pace was faster than my goal and I believe I was 7th overall, which is quite a feat considering this was a road runners course (meaning non-technical).

I think I may stick with running and might up my mileage a bit so I don't fade quite as much at longer events. I'm still debating running the Frogtown course backwards in March, but I haven't convinced myself that I want to run through a mile-long, likely near freezing creek section.