Monday, September 19, 2011

Equinox Post-Script

Well, didn't do so great on the overall Equinox Marathon prediction front. Two out of three in the men's race isn't so bad. However, on Friday I got notice from an insider that UAF Assistant coach Matt Dunlap would be running so in hindsight I should have revised the prediction. He's built perfectly for mountain running and when he has showed up this year (Beat Beethoven and Santa Claus Half come to mind) he's been a strong runner-up.

Anyway, the lead pack went out fast! Running the first leg of the relay I was promtly left in no-man's land amongst the fallen leaves. I don't know their splits yet but that lead group of six or seven was well under 2:50 pace for the first 6 or 8 miles.

Like Dunlap, Laura Brosius did not race much over the summer, and she indicated after the race that she hadn't trained a lot either, but she knows how to step it up for this race. Imagine if she did put in the miles. Melissa Lewis showed up after all and ran to a strong second, upending Davya Flarharty's string of fast races and wins this summer.

This relay was a lot of fun, although I've enjoyed each one in its own way. So far I have had fortune to have been on three different winning relays. Two open men's wins (2007 and 2009), and now a masters win (and record, even thought it appears that they don't keep or acknowledge masters relay records). For years I've wanted to put together a masters team that could break 3 hours.

Have to admit though, this year was the hardest for me. I thought Leg 1 would be great/perfect, but with the sore foot and cut back in training (something like a total of 20 miles running in 17 days prior to the race) it was tough out there. The lead group took it out fast and I couldn't move up. It felt like running in water and I was never comfortable. In fact the race seemed like running an 8K that lasted almost an hour. Earlier this summer I was dreaming of 52s, then after the foot thing I thought 55 or 54 was possible. On Saturday I had to settle for 56:07. Gave it all I had, though.

I'm still happy because as of Tuesday-Wednesday of last week I wasn't sure if I'd even be able to run the 8.5 miles, let alone 2 or 3. But a 4 mile test run on Thursday and short shake out on Friday actually seemed alleviate the stiffness and soreness in my plantar fascia.

Mark Lindberg ran fantastic with a 1:05:16, which I bet is the fastest ever masters split for that leg. And Hannibal Grubis took it home with a very respectable 57:40s, to bring us under 3:00 with a 2:59:07. Once, if they ever get the year by year relay stats up again, I'll have to look for the old masters record but as long as I've been here I don't think any masters teams have gone faster than 3:15 or 3:20.

The team! (me, Mark, Hannibal)

Our time is now 11th on the all time relay list, and all the other teams were open (with one very fast mixed team from the early 90s that included Olympic skier Adam Verrier and local prodigy Mara Rabinowitz).

Congrats to Ben Nelson, Devin McDowell, and Chad Caroll for a fine relay performance (Caroll's 54 min final leg eclipsed my unofficial "master's split record" of 55 min) to rank 4th all time. And the women's team of Theresia Schnurr, Jane LeBlond, and Heather Best destroyed the relay record as well as the all-time women's Equinox record, to post an impressive 3:14 (and 3rd overall for the day).

Meanwhile, Tamara, Lisa Beattie, and Amy Noon took a surprise first in the women's masters relay. So the family got two medals on two separate relays. That was awesome!

Tamara near the end of her leg.

My running year is pretty much done, it's time to rest and rehab that foot. Also time to support the kids at regionals, state, and Portland.

Thinking about the future and that age 55 record of 3:27 hanging out there for 2013. However, guys like Wayde Leder and Andy Holland will want to take that down next year. Who knows, I might have one or two marathons left in these tired old legs. Hoping the future holds at least one flat marathon and maybe another Equinox full marathon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick Equinox Predictors

Based on review of Equinox entrants so far (9/15) it seems like a youth movement/changing of the guard is on, but we'll see about that. Anchorage runners have made a good showing on several recent Equinox Saturdays, but none seem to be signed up this time around.

Last year's winner Jane Leblond is running the relay, so we'll have a new winner. Davya Flaharty has been running strong all summer, capped off with a solid 3:04 marathon win last month in Anchorage. If she's recovered she'll be tough to beat. Melissa Lewis has also had a good summer but she was not listed among the entrants. Past podium finisher Laura Brosius is entered but hasn't raced locally this summer, and Maria Stensland of Norway is back in town.

Win - Flaharty
Place - Stensland
Show - Brosius

The men's race will be exciting. Defending champion Matias Saari will be back of course, but he'll be challenged by relative youngster Chris Eversman (25), who's been racking up some impressive distance wins this summer: record at Gold Discovery and Musk Ox Trail runs, and second fastest ever at the Santa Claus Half Marathon with a 1:13. Meanwhile, 2009 runner-up Stian Stensland is also back in town. Data on recent performances are lacking (although a Google search might solve that), but he was looking tanned and fit the other week at the Musk Ox Run.

Win - Eversman
Place - Saari
Show - Stensland

Friday, September 02, 2011

Musk Ox Trail Run - Pipped at the Finish, Again!

The Musk Ox Trail Race was a fixture on the local circuit for years but it was voted off the island when the trail series started several years ago. Some hard cores brought it back, under the radar, in 2008 or so and it had been run unofficially. But now it's official again and now part of the Running Club North Trail Running series.

I've been waiting to get back ever since they cancelled it, but haven't been able to because of other things going (training for other races, coaching, or injury).

This time the scheduling worked out well and it was more or less worth the wait. The turnout wasn't big, somewhere between 60 and 70 runners maybe, but as is often the case around here, a good quality field.

Lining up were Chris Eversman, on a roll with a record breaking Gold Discovery Run and a stellar 1:13 half marathon just two week later; Matias Saari, the Equinox defending champion, and past winner of Crow Pass Crossing and Mt Marathon; Devin McDowell former state high school 3200 m champion and past varsity runner for Montana State University; and Ben Nelson who has been a steady/strong presence at the races this summer.

For masters competition, I had Simon who at 45 is still running strong and leading the masters division of the trail series.

This 11 mile evening trail race starts and finishes at UAFs large mammal research center, where they keep musk ox and reindeer. It follows the Equinox Trail (in reverse) for about 2 miles before taking the historic Skaarland trail onto Skyline Ridge to KUAC towers and back down. Eleven gnarly miles over roller coaster single track trails, with over 1000 ft net climb on the way out, and enough climbing on the way back to keep a runner honest.

I quickly settled into a pace--seemed okay but fast--about 15 sec behind Simon who trailed just behind the lead pack. Twisted my foot off a root at 1.5 miles--something sort of popped--but kept going. Now it hurts like hell.

The leaders pulled out of sight and Simon made a wrong turn just before Ballaine. We were all confused for a bit. There were no marker flags for at least a half mile. We ran together for the rest of the way.

I threw in some strong surges at about 5 miles and 7 miles but couldn't drop him. Not like the old days. So we just cruised with the terrain, picking it up on the flats and downhills, but easing a bit on the ups. I could really feel my legs turn to rubber with each climb, long or short. But Simon wasn't passing me either.

Put on my best kick of the year with about 300 to go and he fell back a few meters with just 50 to the finish. But he responded and got just half step ahead barely before the line. AAAARRRRRGGGG!!! It happened again.

We finished 4th and 5th in 1:16:46 (turns out one of the lead pack ran off course just after halfway).

I'm making a habit of getting outkicked. Not liking it! But Simon's a good guy and a good runner and I can't complain.

I can walk but my plantar fascia and ankle are sore. Time to restock those anti-inflammatories for a week or so.