Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eye of the tiger, yo.

So yesterday I did the Pilot Knob Trail Race 5 miler, the first of my two races for the weekend. This was the same place as the 15k in May. It was a really small race, probably due to the horrendous weather forecast for the day. But it turned out to be gorgeous and sunny and about 70 degrees with a nice breeze that hit us even through the trees on the trail.

At the beginning of the race when the director was briefing us on the course I surveyed the crowd to see if there was anyone else in my age group. At first it appeared that there was only one other chick in the 20-29 age group (she shall be dubbed Skinny Chick). But as he was finishing his schpiel, another girl came up late (she shall be dubbed Late Girl). She looked like she was in my age group but since she was registering late I didn't get a chance to slyly check her out. So I started the race assuming there were three of us. They only gave out two places and it didn't look good, as both of them looked like they were good runners.

So I started out too fast as normal, but the pace seemed to be okay. I passed Skinny Chick within the first quarter mile and I was more or less keeping up with Late Girl for the first mile. Then the fun began. It rained about an inch the night before the race. There were mud pits on the trail where I was slogging through mud up to my ankles. The course is actually really hilly with a lot of short steep hills, and a couple of long steep hills. I apparently suck at running up muddy hills. I should say "climbing up muddy hills trying to grab onto anything that might help me get up" rather than "running." Running down them wasn't much fun either until I figured out that I should accept the sliding downhill as forward propulsion without energy input and go with it...

The first big muddy hill, I totally got dropped by Late Girl. I am not quite sure how one improves in their muddy hill climbing skillz, but that killed me. In fact, this is what led to my downfall. Skinny Chick caught up with me again at about the halfway point. Well rather I started hearing her and her friend talking behind me. Argh! That drove me crazy, hearing them catch me. Finally on a particularly big muddy hill, they overtook me.

I spent the next mile trying to catch them to no avail and with every muddy hill I fell farther behind. Then came my chance. There was one water stop that you passed twice. At about mile 3 she stopped. I managed to catch her there. It was a five mile race an the weather wasn't too hot, so I wasn't going to stop for water, not when a trophy was at stake! So we had to do this little loop and she passed me on the uphill, I caught her on the downhill and then... she stopped for water again! That was her mistake...

We were a mile and a half from the finish and I booked it. I was charging down the path praying not to twist and ankle. I spent the whole time with this extreme paranoia that she would catch me again. I was already giving it 100%, so I wouldn't be able to give anymore to catch her again if she passed me. But somewhat anti-climactically, I had totally dropped her like a fly (what does that expression even mean?) at that water stop. Didn't even hear her behind me the rest of the way. I kept checking over my shoulder and I couldn't even see her.

The funny thing was that she was totally casual about the whole race. She was obviously not racing me, I was just racing her. Sort of like when you are at the gym and you are slyly racing the person on the treadmill next to you, but they are totally oblivious to your existence.

So I cruised in to the finish at 59:40. My splits were something like 10 (me trying to keep up with Late Girl)/13/13/13/10 (me trying to outrun Skinny Chick). I like trail races because I don't do them enough to know what my pace should be on the trails, so I don't ever feel bad after them if I don't do as well as I would have liked. Anyways, it turns out Late Girl wasn't in my age group! So I got a first place rock (or "hippie trophy" as the race director's daughter called them). Now I have one to match my rock from May.

One race down, one to go! Next up, the Capital Pursuit, where Shaun continues to kick some a$$ and Danielle learns the joy of the negative split.

One more thing:

Why wigs are more protective than bike helmets.

My favorite line from the article:

"In future research, Dr Walker hopes to discover whether this was because female riders are seen as less predictable than male riders, or because women are not seen riding bicycles as often as men on the UK’s roads."

Oh, we females are so unpredictable on our bikes!


Joe said...

Congrats on winning the rock.

And as for being unpredictable on a bike, didn't you just post a story about crashing into a building or something on your bike like two weeks ago? If you hit something completely immobile, how much must you concern the owners of moving objects?

Speaking of which, Lisa suggested I ask you if you want to do a cross country bike ride with us in a few years. What do you say?

Laurie said...

Very nice trail race and amusing race report. Congrats on winning the bling and beating skinny girl. It always feels good when you do that.

Danielle said...

Thanks Laurie :-)

Joe, my butt is sore just from thinking about a cross-country ride... I'll concentrate on getting across Iowa first

Lisa said...

let's all start with RAGBRAI!

Joe said...

Yes, RAGBRAI sounds like a good plan for next summer. But I like thinking big picture. :)