For whatever reason, I haven’t really felt like recapping this race. I think it’s because there’s not that much to say – it was a tough race but I had fun and did the best I could. End of story. However, there are thoughts I had during the race that I wanted to share. So, instead of writing a traditional mile-by-mile recap, here’s a semi-random list of observations, thoughts, and lessons learned from Summit Rock:
- The race took place only 2 days after #HellaStorm, so there was concern about trail conditions, fallen trees, etc. Either Sanborn Park didn’t receive that much rain, OR the ground had been primed by weeks of rain before, OR the redwoods and pines protected the trail from the rain, OR all of the above. There were only a few muddy sections and one small fallen tree. Very manageable overall.
- The start was very congested. The bottleneck came almost immediately, as ~240 halfmarathoners were forced to squeeze into a single file line on single track trails. At one point, we were at a standstill and BT brought out her cell phone to take aselfie. The crowd started to thin throughout the first mile, but it continued to be “cozy” for another 2-3 miles. Because KP,JT, BT, and I weren’t concerned about racing, we started near the back, which was a mistake in retrospect. We got stuck behind some slower folks and it was very hard to pass. I wasn’t concerned about time, but I think it may have added at least 5 minutes to my race time.
- Studying the elevation chart in advance helped me not to freak out about reaching the first aid station (1.5 miles) 30 minutes into the race, and again when I got to the 2nd aid station (3.1 miles) at 52 minutes. I knew that there was about 1500′ of elevation gain in the first 3 miles and that it would be slow going. Knowing where the other major climbs were helped to keep me focused.
- When my calves were already burning a mile into the climb, I remembered to put my heel down and switch to power hiking with my quads and hamstrings. That really saved my legs.
- My impromptu fueling strategy worked pretty well. I took a Gu between the 1st and 2nd aid stations (at 30 min) and then another one at the turnaround (~2 hours).
- I often used the people in front of me as pacers. Whenever they ran, I ran, even if I didn’t feel like it.
- Despite the climbs, there were no scenic views because we were in the thick of the forest. However, I found the moss-covered trees and rocks to be really beautiful, not to mention the gorgeous, pine needle-covered single track trails that were so much fun to run on, especially on the downhill sections.
- I noticed at about mile 10-11, when I usually start fading, that I was feeling pretty strong. In fact, I felt mentally and physically stronger than I have ever felt during a trailhalf. I don’t know if it was the fact that I had taken so many rest days during the week before the race, or because I had built up my aerobic base thanks to MAF training, or whether it was the coffee I drank on the way to race (which I don’t usually do), but something was different and it was good.
- Single track trails are lovely… until they’re not. Like I mentioned above, there was a lot of congestion early on in the race due to single track. Luckily, I wasn’t on single track when the half marathon leaders were coming back, but there was a section when about 5 mountain bikers came through and I had to stop and move over to let them pass. It was pretty annoying, but at least they were close together so I didn’t have to stop for too long.
- Ultima sports drink is gross. The one and only complaint I have against Brazen is that they use Ultima electrolyte drink at their aid stations, which has no calories and contains artificial sweeteners. I made the mistake of grabbing a cup at the first aid station. I took a sip and threw out the rest.
- I didn’t wear my Garmin and I survived! I decided to leave my Garmin at home since the GPS has never been very reliable in the redwoods, and because I wasn’t really “racing” for time anyway. My simple Timex stopwatch was perfect.
- The one part of the race where I was disappointed in myself was in the last mile, where I decided to walk a small hilly section. J, the woman who had been running behind me for almost the whole 2nd half of the race, took that opportunity to keep running and leave me in the dust. She ended up finishing about 30-45 seconds ahead of me. Something I want to work on in the future is being a little more competitive during races and finishing strong.
- On a positive note, Summit Rock was the longest and toughest run I had done in almost 8 months. The fact that I was able to finish without any aches and pains (besides the normal fatigue/soreness) was a huge victory.
- The post-race brunch at BT’s was definitely a major highlight of the day. I had certainly worked up an appetite!
time: 3:05:15 (14:08/mile)
15/25 AG, 67/114 F, 162/241 overall
About the race:
- Organizers: Brazen Racing
- Distances: 5K, 10K, and half marathon.
- Cost: Tiered pricing, depending on distance and registration date.
- Course: Very tough. Almost 2900′ elevation gain, and some technical sections with roots and rocks.
- Course marking: Great. I almost got off trail once by following 3 runners ahead of me (not the fault of poor course marking). Luckily, a runner behind us yelled out that we were heading the wrong way.
- Parking: Large paid lot in the park ($6). Get there early to avoid a line and/or having to take the parking shuttle.
- Aid stations: 5 for the half marathon, offering water, Ultima sports drink, fruit, and a large variety of salty and sweet snacks.
- Bathrooms: Brick-and-mortar flushing toilets near the start/finish. No bathrooms or outhouses along the course.
- Swag: Finisher’s medals and cute t-shirts. Free photos available from Brazen’s Picasa site.
- Post race food and drinks: Because it was cold, there were hot drinks available as well as water and Ultima. There were lots of pastries and savory snacks as well, and of course, It’s It ice cream sandwiches.
p.s. Check out my abbreviated review of Summit Rock (and hopefully some other people’s opinions, eventually) on RaceRaves!