Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Old Goats Recap, 2nd 7:47

In the nick of time, I ran from my car to the start line, left my long sleeve shirt and car key with a volunteer, and sprinted to catch up with the leaders who'd already started. I used to get more nervous before the start of races, but today I felt content to go with the flow and let the whole experience be as natural as possible. It felt like it was just a day of running through nature with a few friends in pursuit of a shared goal of personal satisfaction. "Race" seemed like an overly technical term for a much more organic experience of running passionately through the mountains.

Jorge and I, mile 10. Photo, Jayme Burtis

Jorge, Chris and I moved quickly through the first 10 miles of descending technical singletrack, enjoying the views and creative maneuvers required to negotiate the rocky and misshapen terrain. Chris was in great trail shape and was moving on another level. Last year, I felt spry in this section and put a few minutes on Jorge and Thomas on the way to the Candy Store aid station, but this year the shoe was on the other foot as I was the one that felt less surefooted. Recovering from my torn calf, I'd been logging low mileage of the past 6 weeks and lost part of my technical running skill set. I still felt comfortable on long steep climbs, but the rolling, climbing, technical nature of the next miles from 10 to 21 made it feel like I was out of place, and I lost 10 minutes on Jorge and Chris on the way back to Blue Jay.

Eventually things got more mountainous as we passed mile 21 and got into the long consistent climbs that I suited me best. The descent down the Trabucco Trail was frustratingly technical and gradual keeping me from getting into a rhythm. Eventually Fabrice and I made it to Holy Jim at mi 28 for the biggest climb of the race. I was 15 minutes slower than last year to this point in the race, and felt tired from all the jarring rocky terrain overworking my calves and quads. Yet, I knew from last year that this was the defining climb. This was where the boys and men paused or attacked. This was where catch phrases about heart and determination were backed up. So, I made up my mind to do the climb justice and run it strong.

Holy Jim is a the first half of a long gradual climb from 28-35 over 4,000ft. The task was to push the easier singletrack half, and still have something left for the 2nd half up the fireroad. Fabrice and I went to work earnestly, but as we moved through the first switchbacks of the trail, I had just a little more energy and started to pull away. I had to focus to take down extra powergels and keep attacking with resolve, but once the carbs started to kick in, I could see and feel my surge. Looking across canyon walls, I saw Jorge ahead walking and jogged past him encouraging him on. Eventually I made it about 3 miles up to the eastern lip of the canyon and saw I had a good 6-7 minute lead on Fabrice, Eric, and Jorge on the western face. It was motivating to see the hard work pay off, and pushed me to surge to Bear Springs, the halfway mark. I had drained my one bottle on the climb and was looking forward to the aid station, but there was no sign of one anywhere and my aggression stalled for a moment.

A half mile of gingerly running up the road, the aid station appeared. I found out I had shrunk Chris's lead from 15 to 10 minutes. I joked with the aid station crew about how clear it was that "Chris works ouuuut," (-a la LMFAO) but I really meant it. He was running strong and pushing himself to his limits without any fear of blowing up. At this point I knew I could reel him in, but only with a mistake on his part. I resolved to keep pushing to either catch him or at least build a big enough cushion to hold off Eric, Fabrice, and Jorge for the last 16 miles.

Mi 37, Top of the Climb with Mt. San Jacinto in the distance: Photo, Mieko Morita

In the morning, the Chiquita trail had humbled me and exposed my weak trail legs. As noon passed by, the main divide fire road was giving me hope that my experience and endurance might grant me some success. The turn around confirmed Chris's 10 minute lead, and a 9 minute lead on the 3 pack of Jorge, Fabrice, and Eric behind me. I had 13 miles of rutted fireroad left, and pushed every section along main divide, but admittedly failed on the small climb past the Indian Truck Trail.

Trabucco Trail AS, Photo: Deborah Acosta

I had a choice to go after Chris or guarantee a strong 2nd place finish. If I surged again, I might blow up and get passed in the last couple miles. If I hiked it, Chris would pull further away, but I'd be able to handle any late surge from Fabrice, Eric, or Jorge. I made it to the aid station and saw no one without 10 minutes and instantly felt regret as I had played it safer than I needed to. It later turned out that Chris had hammered the entire main divide and put 12 more minutes on me in the last 12 miles. I made good time between each of the last aid stations, and maintained safe pacing, cruising in for a 7:47, a 3 minute course PR over last year.

Last 1/2 Mile, Photo: Jayme Burtis

Customary post race BS-ing, Photo: Jayme Burtis

It was a beautiful day, and I really enjoyed being out there with the best runners in Southern California. A lot of runners had great races in all parts of the field. I wish I had been in better shape to enjoy the entire race a bit more, but I'm still really grateful for all the progress my calf made in 6 weeks getting me from a 100% handicap to a 10% handicap. I didn't expect to be able to compete in Old Goats for several weeks, but I think Michael Chamoun's PT and extra cross training really made it possible. I'm really grateful for the experience, and proud of all my friends that stepped up and had great performances. Leona Divide is the next goal race, and then my Triple Crown project (Baldy, Gorgonio, Jacinto-1 day) should fill the rest of my training for Hardrock. I'm happy to be back on track!

Facial expressions for Katie's race recap, photo: Jayme Burtis

Finally, the weekly totals:
72mi, 14,500ft
(the altimeter measured just about 10k of climbing for the race)

Belle Brigade was about this good at the show Sunday night with Good Old War and Family of the Year


katie said...

I think I was telling you about rocks in that photo... :)

David Herrera said...

Congratulations Dominic!
Really smart race and incredible calf recovery...

chan said...

Great job out there Dom. Great news about being sans injury. See you out there...

rhenrijr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dominic Grossman said...

Thanks for the love!

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your posts, Dominic. Thanks.

Robert Blair