My Achilles is feeling stronger and stronger with each run. I'm slowly extending my long runs (14 this week) and weekly mileage (last week was my first week over 40 since March) and I'm getting more quality time on the trails.
Since I can't go long yet, I've been keeping my eyes open for shorter distance trail races in the area. The McCall Trail Running Classic 10-miler a couple weeks ago was a great first race back. And then I stumbled upon the inaugural Inland Northwest Mountain Running Series. It's a three race series on three different mountains with races of 10 miles, 10 miles, and then 25k. Perfect!
I had a pretty good day at Schweitzer. It was a very hot day (in the 80's) and a very fast course for a mountain run. The race started with a short, very fast downhill on a service road and I did my best to keep my speed under control. I stayed with lead group of about twelve guys for that half-mile descent. When we shifted gears for the long, gradual, four-mile climb I stayed back and let the fast road guys take off. I settled back into probably eighth or ninth place.
The entire course was an even mix of single-track and service road. We'd get a mile of trail here, then a mile of road there. I knew the climbs weren't real big and that this course would favor the guys with more natural leg speed. I just focused on keeping to my usual mountain-running game plan of taking it easy on the climbs to save energy to really push the descents.
My up legs were feeling much better than they were at McCall the week before, and I was able to slow-by a couple guys before we hit the highpoint of the course. I was in seventh place when we hit the five-mile mark and started looping back toward the finish line.
I felt like the long, gradual descent in the second half of the race was good for me. It required/let me to push my pace more than I have since I've been back on the trail the last month. My leg turnover isn't nearly where it was pre-injury, but I'm happy with where I am right now at this stage in my recovery.
I didn't see anyone for a couple miles between miles five and seven, then between miles seven and 9 I passed three guys to jump up to fourth place. The last mile was a brutal climb back up to the finish line. On the map it doesn't look bad at all, but in a race this short and the paces being pushed as hard as they were it felt like it was straight up the side of a mountain. With about a half-mile left the third place guy came into view, but I had nothing left in my tank for anything that resembled a push. I was looking over my shoulder just to make sure that I wasn't going to be passed. I crossed the finish line in fourth place. ( Official results .)
Overall it was a good event. Of course I'd love to see more trail and less road on a trail run. There was a neat little music fest afterward that Annie and I hung out at with some friends for awhile. Then Annie went and broke her ankle walking down some made-for-skiers-and-snow metal stairs. Major, major bummer.
Elevation profile comparison for the series races.
Heading with Sadie to check-in.
View from the starting line.
Coming to the finish chute.
Age group award. Pint glass and huckleberries (melted from the heat).
Race #2 is this weekend. It should be an interesting one. Hopefully I'll have my down legs to take advantage of the gnarly descents at the end of the race.