Thursday, March 28, 2013

Old Goat Recap

6:35AM start - Lynne Cao

For the 3rd time in three years I headed off down the curvy and flowing 21 mile candy store loop to start the Old Goats 50 mile. In my three years of running the race, I've struggled to close well but enjoyed some good early miles on the rolling and technical singletrack. This year was no different and my legs felt effortless and I enjoyed setting the pace and occasionally singing Prince to Chris and Jesse.

Candy Store Aid Station, mile 11, photo: Ivan Buzik

On the return I felt good enough to want to build a buffer for the 2nd half of the race. I climbed solidly out of the lower canyon and saw Jesse and then Chris 20 seconds back. The trail felt inviting and I started to push for a couple minutes before I realized I needed another Powergel. I took one down and it came back up reminding me to chill out for now and bank calories for the later stages in the race. I took down two more powergels a few minutes later and started to feel good again as I rolled back through Bluejay catching Katie off guard so much so that she forgot my waistpack and had to sprint back to catch up with me.

On the climb up to Trabucco I started to feel a bit of fatigue that wasn't entirely logical. I'd eaten my gels every :25, I was hydrated, I hadn't been out of breath in the first 21 miles, everything should feel fine. I had a lot more miles raced and trained on my legs than last year, but this was part of my plan for the year. Race myself into shape, and hopefully reach a break through with fitness. I went back and forth in my head with the pain in my knees and the exhaustion flooding my body. Chris floated by and I entered the Trabuco aid station as he was taking off down the rocky singletrack.

I'd ran the singletrack down Trabucco a few weeks ago at Baz's Winter Trail 21k and felt awkward on it. I like to pride myself on aggressive downhill tactics, but the trail is part of a strange category I call technical douche grade. The footing is rough and rocky, but the grade and lines of the trail beg to be sprinted. The combination feels awkward, like you're never giving the trail the speed it deserves. So I approached the trail with the best attitude I could, but felt my knees tighten and ache and my body overexert to maintain a mediocre pace. By the time I'd reached the bottom, I had lost 5-6 minutes to Chris.

Holy Jim is perhaps one of the best trails in the Saddlebacks for running fast downhill. It's buffed out, has a gentle grade, and is in a beautiful sunny canyon. Unfortunately, the course goes up it, and my attempts to inject more energy into my body at the Holy Jim aid station was in vain, as I took off with a mouth of salty potatoes and one water bottle for the slow 5 mile climb to Bear Springs. I might have ran a bit better with two bottles, but my body felt heavy and tired. I persistently ran the lower part of the climb knowing Jesse was near, and held him off for 4 miles. Eventually my legs begged for a walk break and I let Jesse go.

I got into Bear Springs aid station and had to sit to down soda while I watched Jesse take off out of the aid station. Though I didn't know it until afterwards, we were both at a low point, he just appeared way stronger. I thought about all the racing I'd already done, all the muscle fibers and joints I'd burned out to fight for one more spot in a race. Those experiences had built character and toughness, but they'd also exhausted that cushion to supersede fitness with grit. I put my head down and tried to run as long as I could up Santiago Peak, but the fire road just kept going and going. Miraculously, I was only a minute behind Jesse, and 12 minutes behind Chris.

The 13 mile stretch back to Blue Jay is mentally exhausting. If the race had been 40 miles, I would've been overjoyed. Instead I had 10 more miles of steep, dusty, exposed, rutted out, rocky, SUV/motorcycle infested Main Divide. The race was thirty-five miles of lovely singletrack, and fifteen miles of despicable fireroad and now I had to pay up. Chris knew what to do, Jesse knew what to do, I knew what to do, but I found no motivation or energy. Though I was running some of the most painful miles I've had in the Saddlebacks, my legs were clicking off 10 minute miles and I'm keeping within striking distance of Jesse and equaling performances from much better days of yesteryear.

Horsetheif Aid Station, photo: Geoff Cordner

I'm unknowingly a few minutes behind Jesse at Horsetheif, but I am more concerned about my broken toenail that I got from stubbing my toe while dodging out of control dirt bikers. I limp in the last 5.5 miles and I expect a 8:10-8:15 and but am suprised to see 7:50 on the clock. I cross the line 3rd for the 3rd time this year.
 Thanks for crewing me Panda!
 Photo: Garry Wang
"That was bad" Photo: Gary Wang

Recapping the carnage
Over the past few months, I've felt my body develop and burn out. This graph is purely subjective and unscientific, but it does explain how I've raced hard, beat myself up, trained, tapered (not enough to undo the damage), raced hard again, repeat, repeat, repeat. I've got one last race at Zane Gray and I'm planning on doing some more rest and recovery for two weeks before getting in one good week and tapering again.

Talking with Zeke last night about running logs, he mentioned he doesn't record any info because he doesn't want to know when he's "not doing enough". That's definitely been a hard thing for me because I get embarrassed when just getting 50 miles in a week isn't easy when I'm beat up. I think that's normal for competitive runners because we like to always be either "attacking" or "holding myself back" when it should be distinct rest for several days. The laws of equilibrium are pretty clear about rest: if you go hard for a long time, you've got to take more than just 1-2 days off.

So, that's my plan, to be unashamed of two easy, embarrassingly low mileage weeks that let my tendonitis settle down and to be ready to come off Zane Gray ready for my high mileage build for AC through May and June. I'm tired, but I'm excited at the thought of just running 100-150 mile weeks with no races to immediately worry about..

Weekly Mileage:
70 mi, 16,500 ft

Interpol - NYC
Fitting melody


Anton said...

1) Let nagging shit heal.
2) Damn that Interpol takes me back to college...I really like the first half of that album.

Tiffany Guerra said...

Great report Dom, you always give your all and we love that about you... I guess that will leave you wiped out sometimes :)

Great description of Trabuco Trail. Should be a great downhill, but instead it is stressful on both body and mind... I thought your description was right on.

Hope you give your body the break it needs and look forward to hearing about Zane Grey!

Dominic Grossman said...

Thank Tony, I'm building respect the laws of endurance.

I appreciate that Tiffany, I seriously propose a course change to hit Santiago first, head down Holy Jim, and up Trabucco Trail.

Dominic Grossman said...

2) Yeah, I never look up for those first 4 songs

Chris Price said...

First and foremost, thanks for singing Prince to me during the first 20 miles of the race.

Thanks for keeping the pace honest in the beginning too, had a blast running that with you and Jesse, even if I could barely keep up.

Looking forward to more shenanigans at Zane Grey. We gotsta represent San Gabriel runners.

So what exactly does the horizontal axis of your graph represent % of what, unicorness? Or just old, "feeling 100%?"

jameson said...

awesome race report.

congrats on the the 3rd 3rd.

Unknown said...

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