by Kevin Robinson
For the second Bradbury race in a row I found a way to sabotage my performance …..yet I did well both times. The day before the 9 mile Breaker I ran the Beach to Beacon 10K …so not a fresh start for mountain race, but still PRed it. The day before the 12 mile Bruiser, I golfed in a tournament (first time golfing this year)
I felt good and strong for the first 12 holes and keep thinking I was using up the core strength I was saving for the O trail. The last few holes I could feel the fatigue setting in and knew for sure this was a mistake the day before a tough race.
So, Sunday morning (race day) I decided to run a warm up (which I never do before this type of race) by the time everyone was lining up, sweat was rolling down my face because my warm up somehow ended up being a minute per mile faster than my projected race pace…….mainly because I started the warm up 20 minutes before race time and didn’t keep track of the time, I was worried the race would start without me. Not what one would call a controlled pre race strategy.
I usually feel like crap the first mile and thought perhaps the warm up would counteract the feeling. I also decided to start a bit further back so I wouldn’t get sucked into too fast of a pace.
I don’t what God Ian and Ryan talked to but he surely listened as this was about as perfect as a day can get, fairly cool with no humidity. Of course a light rain would make the trail race a bit more fun but also slow things down a bit. A fair trade off on most days, but today I was hoping for cool dry and that is exactly what we got.
The start was a bit slow but thinned out rather quickly. I slid in behind Rick Abradi and figured to pace off him for a while as he was planning a somewhat slower start also. Pacing off someone else is hard for me because I like to run faster when I feel good and slower when I realize I am pushing too hard.
A person running faster than my average pace can sometimes suck me into too fast of a pace and work against me in the end. I honestly thought this was happening with Rick because I was feeling pretty winded in the second mile and he was picking off runners which meant to me he was pushing the pace a bit. Of course I followed him even though I could have stayed back.
I think it is my competitive spirit that causes me to try and stay behind a faster runner. So, here I was running faster than I planned, yet after mile two, I was getting control of my breathing and feeling much better.
I thought for sure this would work against me, but hey it was a race and I was trying to improve my time. Somewhere in mile three we got behind a slower runner and it seemed Rick just couldn’t find a good place to pass. I got antsy and found a spot to slip by them both. I felt a little bad after as I think I might have muscled them a bit as I searched for a line that would work.
Right after I passed them, I saw Rick pass too. Now I was actually in a worse position as I could feel Rick gaining on me at times and I stopped thinking about my own race. I was worried he was going to catch me. How stupid is that? My plan was to run behind him so if he passed me that would actually be better. The smart thing for me to do would have been to pull over and let him by, then settle back in and let him pull me along.
Before long, I noticed Rick was slowing a bit on technical downhills, this told me he was still bothered by his injury as the downhills are usually the place to make up some time. On the flats and ups, he would catch back up to me.
This is also when I twisted my right ankle pretty hard. Rick mentioned it was too soon for that to happen which got me thinking about placing my own feet instead of worrying about where he was (thanks rick) focus is so important on this type of terrain.
The human mind is so weird, here I am only in mile three, worrying about a runner passing me (who is faster than me anyway)and deserves to be running at his pre-injury pace. I would have cheered him on and then been able to settle in on my own race.
I think the real problem is that I love coming up onto a runner and working my way past them but I hate a runner doing that to me. It shouldn’t make a difference but is just plain does. The worst one was the guy who passed me a half mile from the finish of the O trail…..I almost caught him with my kick but he had a kick too.
The middle miles went real well as I settled in and felt the pace was comfortably hard. I was only passed by a few runners that I didn’t return the favor to and besides that was only passed at the water stops by runners who were not stopping. I think I caught and passed all of those a short while after, so it was no big deal.
I was feeling good, hadn’t tripped at all (other than the ankle twist in mile three) and was getting anxious to hit the O trail. I knew I would be all set once I got there from all my previous training on it.
I knew things were going great when I hit the O trail at 1:44. My average O trail runs have been 30-32 minutes even when doing repeats. I felt pretty good going in and decided to push the pace as hard as I could and try to finish under 1:15 for the race.
About a half mile in, as I was basking in my glory of knowing the O trail so well and feeling I was finally the master of it. For no other reason than to prove me wrong, the O trail grabbed my right foot and slung me down to the ground. I slammed extremely hard and felt severe cramping of the calf muscles and hamstrings while I was trying to keep my feet under me.
I was a bit dazed when I stood back up and instead of walking off the cobwebs, I foolishly tried to jump right back into my stride. Merely 25 steps later, I was slammed to the ground again only this time even harder as my mind and body had not recovered enough to attempt to buffer my fall.
This is the first time I remember actually being pissed off and swearing as I hit the ground. I was so mad at myself for my lack of respect and stupidity. I could hardly walk as I tried to trudge forward. For sure I would not PR this course after all, not if I was forced to walk the rest of the way.
I was disappointed and really pissed at myself. I tried massaging the Calv’s and kept trying to get a run going. Eventually I was able to run but much slower as I now paid close attention to the ground and my foot placement. My knees were hurting along with my ankle, my left arm and my right fore arm.
I tried to put the pain behind me,just concentrate on the trail and moving forward. Things started feeling a bit better and I realized as long as my Calv’s didn’t cramp right up on me, I would still have a chance of beating last years time.
I was so drained from the falls that I could barely lift my legs high enough and I continually tripped on the rocks and roots. I did a good job of slowing down when needed and by centering my body better, I managed to stay upright. Something I should have been doing from the start. This is not the place for a lean forward type sprinting form (which is what I was foolishly doing at the beginning of the O)
I begged for the O trail Gods to forgive me and at least allow me to finish….. I think they heard me. It was uplifting to see the stone wall and leave the O trail behind. Now the trail was wide open and I pushed as hard as I could to finish strong.
I crossed the finish line almost 9 minutes faster than last year. There is nothing more exciting than finishing a tough race like this one. It is funny how ones perceptions are though. As slow as I felt in the O trail after falling, my total O trail time including the falls was 32:57…….right about where I planned in the first place.
So today I am limping a bit and I have some tender spots but I am happy…..very happy about my performance and my new PR. 1:17:15 (running time 1:14:56)
10:46………145-159(50 sec water stop)
10:41………145-149(45 sec water stop)
11:31………153-158(O trail fell twice)
11:22………151-159 (O trail)