Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tread Lightly Trail Series Race Review

So, the grand question for me was what to wear. Yes, I've got the standard running shorts, cool logoed shirts, but I was trying to decide what to use for water bottles. My plan was to go Euro-style, pushing on the legs, while trying to propel myself up the mountain. I decided to just go light, since I figured any extra weight would slow me down on the mountain. On the upside, I knew that Trail Glovers are amazing uphill shoes (no weight, enough traction), so I did have the shoes.
Anyway, the race swag bags were awesome. I got a cool Asics logo running shirt, a cool set of socks, a cool shirt with the race logo, a cool Nathan handheld water bottle, a cool Pearl Izumi water bottle, and the obligatory Hammer gel. There was the chip thing, which I tied into my shoes, and I realized that I really need to just start wearing an ankle pouch for these things. I'm obsessive about the lacing systems, and putting a chip in there is annoying for me.
My plan for Mount Helena race was to get a sweet start, and keep it strong on the uphill. I did manage to get a cool start during the flat section, but I had a harder time than I would expect doing the uphill. For some reason, my legs were miserable on the uphill angle, and my arms are really not in the propelling shape that they were back when I still had the gym membership. The other problem was that the temperature was just hot enough combined with the smoke that I was really getting dehydrated fast. I though that I'd be fine to storm up the mountain and back, but I usually ran Mount Helena during the days of good air and in the cool of the evening. So, I ended up not having as much leg strength as I expected and doing the uphill climb much weaker than I expected. So, overall, I was ever so slightly disappointed in my performance, but think that I've got a decent amount of time to get ready to do straight uphill hiking, probably with a sweet ballistic vest for weight.
Overall: 1.52mi, 29:31.84 1378 feet of ascent.

For the second part, we ended up doing a cool part of Mount Ascension that I never had experienced before. There's a really nifty trail off of Lime Kiln that meets up with the saddle, and is in amazing shape. There's something about running fresh, rather than beaten trail that just softens up the body. I decided to carry both handhelds, not because I was super worried about water, but rather because I was worried about having something to take the rocks when the inevitable slings and arrows of misfortune call. I ended up getting a bunch of water on two nifty gals on the trolley, which made me feel super sheepish. Also, I ended up using quite a bit of arm to keep stable while standing on the trolley (this will be important). I did a nice .67 mile warm up with the fast crowd, which felt really good. I feel the importance of warming up, I just usually fail at it. It's probably better to get a nice, leisurely, mile in before the starting line, especially as today's athletes are so gelled up that calories aren't an issue for distance races.
There was quite the spring at the start, since there was only about a quarter of a mile before hitting the singletrack trail. I ended up being further back than I wanted, so I got to do the strange hill passing thing. The problem is that passing is difficult, and there are three parts, uphill, downhill, and flat, where certain people are faster. I did get some sweet assistance from my fellow runners when the tree took out my hat. So, I spent most of the first part passing the galloping horses of the first section, and then once we hit the new trail that wraps around the North part of Mount Ascension running with the crew. I did pass of the lovely ladies on the 2006 switchbacks, and got passed once we hit Little Moab. In fact, I did see one of the lamer things on the day, where one lovely lady with headphones was basically blocking the same gal who cruised by me. I was almost frustrated, as it was on a downhill technical section, and its dangerous not to let people pass on those sections. I don't know if it's bad karma, or bad racing, but headphone girl ended up slipping on the Moab rocks, which my strong New Balance Minimus Trails held strong. Love that downhill grip!
There was a cool uphill part on Acropolis where I realized that I was pretty much set in where I would finish, so I enjoyed 30 fine seconds of walking the uphill before settling into the final stretch. It was a good rest, since my legs basically had nothing left, and I'd just been running on technical downhill skill. Plus, I was really low on calories, but I didn't have the opportunity to Gel up.
Vital Stats: 3,48 miles, 29:53.43, total ascent 503 feet and decent of 1587 feet.

The most race food and festivities were mostly cool. The Pearl Izumi rep was really nice, even if the shoes were way tight on me (foot swell, and general tightness). Plus, they have a lot of midsole, and I run in Minimus and Trail Gloves. It's too bad, although I hear that Izumi is going to do the Hoka One One route (which my local running store needs to carry before I try a pair at Runners Edge and have a spare $160). Inov8 had stuff more my style, but the rep was actually a real jerk, who seemed to have no interest in me, but had interest in the gal and her hipster (trucker hat and torn off jean shorts / plaid flannel wearing hipster) boyfriend. So, I'm not buying anything from Inov8, since they have really bad reps. Take that Google sentiment!

I did manage to come in first in my race division, which was a good feeling, even if there probably weren't a lot of people in it. I did run much faster than all the people who stayed home. I got some cool compression socks for it, although I think I'd like the bragaddocio of having a cool medal to go along with it.

I was asked by the race director if it would be cool to make a running weekend of it. I completely agree. Maybe a running movie on Friday along with a casual beer run and a cool running workshop with someone would be a good thing. There's talk of adding a long Sunday race to go along with it. There's some cool things that can be done with that, such as doing the Centennial trail (which could make a sweet out and back) or bringing back the
The only that I actually question is if the race needed to give prize money to the winners. I suspect most of the people who ran did so because they wanted to do the race, rather than because they needed / wanted the money. One option, which might be worth considering, would be to divvy up the money for the local running clubs and let people represent those. It's far enough from the Montana Cup, and I suspect that the first time the Bozeman runners come up and take $1500 for Bozeman will get all the Helena runners going strong. I didn't seem to bring out the elite runners the way the Icebreaker does. As the race gets bigger, splitting up the crowd on the singletrack is going to be a real issue. Adding another mile before hitting the singletrack would probably do a decent job, without being unfair to anyone. Wave start may or may not be a good option, although doing starting times based on a set of qualifying races might be worthwhile.

So, next year, y'all should do the series. It's awesome, the people are awesome, the swag is awesome, the post race food and beer is awesome.

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