Monday, October 8, 2012

Running With The Rabbits In A WolfPack

1st in Division, 2nd Grand master, 12th Overall. Wolf pack Fall Showdown Trail run.

Insanely epic weekend, brought to you by intense self-flagellation!

... I hear the beeping from my Garmin sports watch continuously warning me that my cardiovascular system is in the red and ain't gonna hold out much longer.
Mile eleven and the 27 year old woman who I had started the race and paced for the first three miles was hot on my heels. I had gone the whole race without anyone passing me. That basically was my main goal. I hate being passed. It's heart wrenching when that happens so, I don't let it happen, period. She's gaining on me and I can tell she's at her limit. I let her catch up with me rather than wasting energy trying to surge on her. I figure that will leave me a little gas in the tank. This chick is tenacious! I try to banter with her and congratulate her on catching back up with me but, I don't have a whole lot of air in my lungs to spare. I kind of get the idea she was rabbit hunting me from the beginning seeing that we were pretty evenly matched and she had stopped for a "natural break" where I had gained the lead.

I didn't get a lot of sleep and getting to this event had been a bit logistically taxing. "Wolfpack" the organization responsible for putting this half-marathon trail run together is based in El Sobrante and I have to ride to the train, and ride from the train a few miles to the event start. It was very cold and I had to use a bit of my sacred stores of glycogen built up over the week. 
At the start I was a bit nervous and focused on zeroing in on the fast rabbits. When the start horn went off I let the fast front group go and slid in with the secondary group. Immediately I realized their pace was a bit below where I wanted to be so, I then set my sites on the few runners dropping slightly behind the front group.
I immediately found my groove and settled in to a nice 7:30 + pace. I met "Cecil", at least I'm pretty sure that was her name, late 20's, strong runner and pretty cute. I chatted with her and called out our pace times. After awhile I felt like I could pick up the pace a bit and began a surge. At that point she felt she needed to take a "Natural break" and now I was alone. I just began looking ahead and began the job of picking off anyone ahead of me. I probably passed 3 or 4 runners before I began the climb up to the dam.

As I began to ascend the very steep incline I used the power walk/climbing technique which worked really well as opposed to using more energy trying to power run which is really no faster. It probably saved me in the long run.
At the top of the dam I grabbed a sports gel, water, and sports drink and began the less steep second climb which I ran up.
at the turnaround part of the climb I finally got to use my newly developed descending technique which worked really well for me. It's a bit of a skipping style that cushions my bad knee a bit more and I was just blazing past people on the descent.
Finally at the dam things leveled off and there was quite a distance now under the hot sun to the end of the dam to the turnaround flag at the halfway point. I was really starting to feel the hurt at this point and didn't expect this section to be so long. The good thing was I could study all the people ahead of me and gauge what I was up against on the return trip.
Right before the final steep descent my power gels were kicking in a bit and I was starting to feel better. At this point I just let it all go and screamed down the single track in hot pursuit.
The trip back through the woods was really fast and  fortunately went by quick. I sat on a guy around ten years younger than me but was able to finally drop him and started picking off some of the original front group at a rapid pace.
Finally I felt like no one would pass me at this point until I looked back and spotted Cecil! I was in dis-belief! How did she do that.

I was trying to calm myself. My adrenaline was just pumping. We strode together at the same pace and I could tell by her breathing she had as little remaining as I had.
200 hundred yards to go and I was testing with some slight surging...I knew this was it. I can always sprint for 200 yards. I know that from experience so, I went for it!
Long speed stride, mouth agape, my heart pounding out of my chest...100 yards and she started slipping and I really kicked it in with everything I had! 20 yards, I knew I had it...Screaming at the finish line, the announcer calling our names...
"Now here they come! It's going to be close"!

Pete Ferguson wins the sprint!

I stopped dead after crossing and bent over to try and get some air in my lungs. I rose up a bit to high five Cecil. I was happy for her, yet a little sad that she had to just missed beating this old man. She had worked too hard to catch back up with me.

So was my experience of running my first trail competition at 58 years old.
It was surely a confidence builder and now I'm pretty sure of what I have in the "Lord Balls" department.

I rode back to the train beaming and kind of proud of myself. I won first place in my age group. A second place for the Grand Master slot and out of all the competition, men's and women's I placed 12th overall. I'd say a pretty good day!

When I got home, Cathy made me a nice home cooked meal of eggplant Parmesan. We had massive doggie day care and with friends stopping by, the blue angels booming overhead and going out to dinner I wasn't able to get much rest until Sunday where I just spent  most of the day playing and photographing the dogs and watching the airshow from the roof.

Some of the results from my photo sessions.

Saturday's Blue Angels-

In between air show dog photo shoot.

No comments: