Thursday, November 07, 2013
My taper is in full effect. Thankfully, I’m not feeling too excited or antsy, but am seemingly hungrier than ever, which is the way tapers seem to go: mileage down, desire to consume mass quantities up.
Since last week, I’ve raced the Tamalpa XC Johnny Lawson Challenge out in China Camp state park, and run a final tune-up workout. The race went really well. I’ve run those trails a lot and was very happy when I heard that the race had relocated back to China Camp from the Headlands, where it was held the past couple years. I love the almost entirely singletrack nature of this course, which throws a wrench in a lot of normal racing tactics. Running a lot of trail races, especially Dipsea, has taught me the importance of positioning on narrow trails. Once you get in front of someone, or a group of people, you can basically dictate the pace and make it difficult to others to pass you. So that was my goal on the start line – get to the singletrack (about a quarter mile in) in front or near the front and see how long I could stay there.
I hit the bridge that leads from the parking lot to the singletrack in first and stayed there for about 2 miles, until we got off the parking lot and back onto the trail. But I quickly found myself back in front as Crosby kindly stepped aside to let me lead the way up the small climb. I wasn’t expecting this gesture, but am rather thankful he decided to yield for a split second. The other weird thing I noticed about singletrack racing is that when someone is directly behind you, it’s really hard to guess how big the group is. You don’t get a feeling of being crowded like you can on a road, where the lead group generally runs like a blob. On the trails, it’s single file and as a result, only one person can be behind/in front of you at a time. I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder around corners to see how big our pack was. After about 1 mile, when we hit a paved parking lot for about a quarter mile, our lead group was maybe 5-6 strong. At the 2nd mile, it was down to 3-4 and then at the third mile it was me and one other guy. It was at that point where I was happy to know the trails so well. I could put my shoulder down and really charge around the corners without taking time to slow down to gauge them, as I knew what lay beyond. I returned to the start/finish area with a 5-6 second lead on the 2nd place guy and was able to cruise the last hundred meters or so comfortably.
The race was a success, as it looks like the women, master’s men, and open men were all victorious. We’ll have to wait for the final results, but it looks promising. I’m sorry if I just jinxed anything, though.
On Tuesday, we were back on the track. Daylight savings time kicked in on Saturday night and I’m rather displeased. My sleep cycle has been thrown off and I’ve been sleeping 8.5-9 hours every night this week, usually getting into bed around 9-9:30pm. It just feels later now that it’s dark at 5:30pm and I’m still wondering why we switch hours. Pick one and stick with it, eh government? Still, at least the earlier darkness meant the lights were on at the track when we started our warmup, which was a welcome change from the past couple weeks, when the lights came on just as we were finishing the workout. A couple of us did 2 x 2mile repeats and while the first mile of the first rep felt pretty rough, I warmed up for the rest of the workout and came away feeling quite pleased with the result heading into Saturday. My legs felt decent last night and hopefully they’ll continue to feel better as the week goes on and I continue to drop my mileage. I’ve got a few nagging aches and pains, the sort that always seem to crop up when you’re tapering and hoping to feel great, so I’m hoping those take care of themselves with less running, but either way, I’m ready to go for Saturday. Unlike heading in the Mountain Running Championships where I was hedging my goals, I’m not this time. I want to win and I want the course record. I know there will be very good competition out there, so I’m looking forward to mixing it up at a big race and seeing where I stack up on a national level.