I've had a fun September competing in some local trail races.
Sept 11 -
Moscow Mountain Madness is becoming a local trail race legend. Beautiful trails with some nice ups and downs. This year they changed it to a half-marathon (previously a 12-miler) and included more single-track. I liked most of the changes. The big negative change was that they didn't allow dogs this year, so Sadie had to watch from the sidelines. (This is understandable as the race gets bigger...but it sure was nice being able to run with her before.)
If ever there's a "hometown" race, this is it for me. The course follows trails that I've run with Sadie hundreds of times. I know where the rocks are, I know where the roots are, I know the best spots to stop and take a photo.
It was a good day to be on the trails. Hot (near 90 degrees), but still a good day. I'm usually pretty conservative on the climbs because I want to save something to rip the downhills, but I pushed it a little more than usual on the first big 1,500' climb. I came off the climb probably somewhere in 15th place or so.
I had a short low-moment around mile 7 or 8 where my legs felt dead, but that only lasted a bit. When we hit the 5 mile descent I was feeling good and started picking off a few people. I ended up finishing in 10th place overall with a time of 1:49:38. I thought a time like that would have placed higher, but there was some stout competition this year at the front of the pack.
Elevation Profile of Moscow Mountain Madness
On the course about 3 miles in.
Shortly after crossing the finish line.
Sept 17 - The Puffer Butte Huff and Puff Trail Run is a low-key, relatively new 5-mile trail race at Fields Springs State Park. I hadn't run these trails before so I thought it would be nice to go down and check them out.
And dogs were allowed. :)
Turns out the Lewis-Clark State College cross-country team (ranked 10th nationally in their division...I just looked it up) came out in full-force to use this race as a "training run."
At the gun, the men's team sprinted (literally) out of the gates to attack the mile-long climb. Sadie and I watched them zoom away up the windy dirt road.
Not that I was trying to race the cross-country guys or anything (insert smiley face), but I think I was motivated to push it a bit faster than I normally would on my climbs. So I pushed my pace even though they were all already out of sight. Near the top of the climb I could see a bunch of the road ahead and the main pack had broken into a few smaller packs and there were a couple stragglers falling behind. Again, I wasn't trying to "race" them, but I definitely wanted to see if I could at least catch the stragglers. :)
I pushed it on the post-climb descent and started gaining on the two stragglers. I passed both of them by the end of the descent and we turned onto the final three miles of the course that was pretty flat with a couple rolling sections and only one super-short climb/descent.
I put a little time on the two stragglers and with about a mile to go I had caught up with another. He looked back and seemed surprised to see an old guy with a dog gaining on him. That seemed to fire him up, because he picked it up an extra gear and pulled away from me pretty effortlessly. Ah, to have young legs again. (/sniffle)
I finished in 30:03 and was sucking a lot of air. 12 of the cross-country kids beat me, but I ended up finishing ahead of two of them. Surprisingly, and a bit embarrassingly, I was officially awarded the overall winner's ribbon at the award ceremony. I guess they weren't eligible for awards because of restrictions and regulations they have on what they can officially compete in. And since I was the first non-cross-country person to cross the finish line, I got the ribbon. I almost didn't go up to accept it when they called my name because it felt funny knowing that 12 people crossed the finish line ahead of me.
Besides that awkwardness, it was a lot of fun. Sadie was first-overall dog once again. I think she's only been beaten by another dog in two races ever -- one time was my fault for being slower than the other guy, the other time was her fault for waiting until mile 2.5 of a 5k to take a potty break. :)
Cruising some downhill single-track with Sadie. Huff and Puff 5-mile trail run.
Sept 24 -
This was the first - and maybe only - Wild Moose Chase Trail 25k . It was put on up at Mt. Spokane as a fundraiser for an Eastern Washington University doctoral program group. It was a huge success, so I hope to see it continued by future members of this group in the years to come.
I hadn't done any trail running up on Mt. Spokane before, so I was excited to see the trails. I'm doing the Mt. Spokane 50k this weekend, so I figured this 25k would be a good preview of the mountain.
Big bonus points for this race for allowing dogs! Sadie loves to lace 'em up as much as the rest of us.
There was a pretty big crowd at the start, so my game plan was - because I was running with Sadie on a leash - to start at an easy pace near the mid-back just to see how everyone sorted themselves out. So we stuck back for a couple miles. Whenever the trail widened up enough for a safe with-dog pass then Sadie and I would just ahead a couple runners at a time. We did this for about three or four miles. Then the course left the single-track and moved onto a long and winding dirt service road. With the wider road I could let Sadie off the leash without worrying about her tripping up anyone on the single-track. That's when we were able to pick up the pace quite a bit, and within half a mile or so we passed several others.
Then I didn't see anyone for the most part of a long, three-mile climb. There was an aid-station at the top and I stopped to get Sadie some water. As usual, I run the climbs pretty conservatively in hope of having something in the tank for strong descents. Same here. We hit a long descent on a dirt road and I was really able to crank up the pace. I passed a couple guys, and then around mile nine I finally reached my friend Doug who'd rode up with me. He said something like, "There's only three people ahead of us." Cool. I knew we had one big climb left (up to the top of one of the ski resort's chairlifts), but that the race finished with descent from there.
Right about then we hit the climb. And it was a good one. One of those where you're glad there's a chairlift to get you to the top. Within a few hundred meters of climbing I caught up with the guy in third place. He was looking back a lot and had a slight limp. But seeing me gave him a bit of motivation and he pushed ahead of me by about a minute. Doug had caught up with me again and I was back in fifth place, but I knew there's been some downhill before the finish line, so I stayed back at my conservative climbing pace.
There was a short downhill after the first section of the climb and I passed both of them to move up to third place. Near the end of this descent there was a small stream that I stopped at to let Sadie lay down in, and I was passed up again. The last aid station was at the bottom of the last steep climb (see elevation profile below), and from there we could see the chairlift. I went through about ten seconds back of the third place guy, but pushed it on the bottom of the climb and caught up with him. We hit finished the big climb together, and I was feeling confident that my legs were strong enough to put some time on him on the last mile's downhill.
I pushed ahead of him near the top of the climb, stopped to take a picture at the top, then took off down the single-track. Sadie was cruising too. It's motivating watching her run on trails. She's so excited that it's hard not to be happy and excited yourself.
I felt I was going at a pretty good clip that last mile, but knowing that I was in third place I found myself peeking back a couple times just to make sure the next guy wasn't sneaking up on me. But he wasn't, and I crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 2:10:26 ( results ). Turned out I put about five minutes on him in that last mile+. Another top-place finish for Sadie in the dog-division. :)
Wild Moose Chase Trail 25k elevation profile.
Warming up with Sadie.
Sadie excited to finally start running.
Climbing below the chairlift.
3rd-place guy just in front of me near the top of the final climb. Sadie up ahead of him in the shadows.
Start of the downhill single-track at the end. Great time of year for wild flowers on Mt. Spokane.
Crossing the finish line with Sadie. (She surged ahead at the last moment to beat me by a nose.)
1st place age-group = jar of honey. Sweet!
Sept 27 - September 27th also saw the end of the super-fun, first-annual, Kamiak Loop Trail Series . We started it in late-Spring and ran every other week on the super-tough Kamiak Loop (within the first mile there's nearly 1,000ft of cumulative climbing). It was a 2.25 mile course formatted in a time trials style.
Hopefully this will become a trail running fixture in the area for years to come too.
Kamiak Loop Trail Series elevation profile.
Flying down the ridge-line side of the Kamiak Loop trail.