Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tour de Bayou 4 - Ho Chi Minh Trails

3.27 miles, 26:21, 8:03 pace, no HR info, 9th overall

I had a fairly good race today, although things could have gone better. I finished in ninth place overall, which is right in the neighborhood of where I finished for the other three prior legs.

This was my first experience with the Ho Chi Minh Trails, although I've run the Cambodia trail with Coach Audrey from PIM before. What can I say . . . these trails are tough. The elevation change, sharp turns, logs, roots and low-lying branches come together for a very challenging race course. I seriously fought the urge to walk, especially when I got that sick-to-my-stomach feeling that happens when I exert myself for an extended time.

I certainly didn't help myself with my pre-race preparation tactics. I failed to hydrate properly and ate foolishly, I didn't focus my mental capacities on this race, and I showed up with no time to warm up since I couldn't get out of work early enough. It might sound strange, but the mental and dietary preparation during the 24 hours prior to a race is almost as much of a contributing factor to my success (or lack thereof) as the weeks of hard training prior to the race.

But I still did fairly well. The big story is that I didn't have any problems with my right leg, although I did a pretty good job twisting my left ankle about half way into the course. I took a second or two to stop and check out my ankle, and then jogged tenderly for about twenty seconds to make sure I'd be ok. I want to do well at any individual race, but I don't want to sacrifice my opportunity to do well for the next several weeks by failing to quit when I get injured. I gave up a few spots by monitoring my ankle, but I think I gained them back . . . except . . .

After I stopped to nurse my ankle, I followed two girls and a guy for a mile or more. At the end I made my move and passed all three of them over the course of a quarter mile or so. As we cleared the trail I saw the finish line about fifty yards away. I thought I gathered an insurmountable lead, so I picked up the paced but didn't top it out. I was surprised when I was passed with less than five feet to go. The Cisco Kid, as he introduced himself to me after the race when I offered my congratulations, slid by me in a moment of absent-mindedness to take 8th place from me. I can guarantee that won't happen again. If someone outkicks me, it will be because they're faster than me -- not because I didn't notice them in my rear view mirror.

Overall, I had a blast. I love these trail races, and I'll try to do more after the marathon. Gas Light is a trail runner and a HARRA "trustee", so I've been leaning on her advice for each of the legs. Check out her take on the race. She's a competitor.

A note on my pace -- I wouldn't be surprised if I ran an 8:03 pace, but I'm more likely to believe that the Garmin short-changed the route as it tends to do with twisty courses (rounds off corners) and dense brush. The course was probably longer, and my pace was probably a bit quicker.

Mile splits:
7:15, 8:59 (break to check my ankle), 8:19, 1:43 for .26 miles (6:36 pace)

TDLY - Mile Warm Up, 2x1M with a 2:45 rest between @7:18 and 8:01, Max HR = 174 (26% in zone 5, 63% in zone 4), 13 minutes rest, Final 1M, (1.02M), 7:54, 7:44 pace, Max HR = 171, Avg HR = 171. Julie thought it would be a good idea to do mile repeats. I remember hating this workout, and now I can see why. I went out way too fast on the first one, and it was 80 degrees.

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