Geezer Hit's Portland for XC Wild Weekend
Went down with the xc kids who ran at the Adidas Concordia XC Classic. That was quite a production set up by Adidas with a huge soundstage, a very loud drum band at the lap area, 1,000 cowbells, banners, live video feed via Flotrack, and thousands of high energy kids not to mention parents, fans, and coaches. Great just to be part of that.
On Saturday morning I jumped into the Stumptown Cross race on the same course that the high schoolers ran. I've definitely been in Alaska too long. Thought maybe there would be a couple dozen coaches, some in better shape than others, and some easy-going joggers and a few parents running too. I arrived at the site and there were teams, and tents, and all sorts of fast looking runners in team uniforms. Heck, this was going to be a race!
The course at Fernhill Park has three loops with numerous sharp turns around posts and root bearing tree trunks. Footing is rarely even and runners don't get more than 200 meters before the next transition, and usually it's more like 50 meters on broken or tilted surface. Still the course is fairly fast.
Got in a solid warm up, 2 miles with Lathrop's coach Chad, plus some odds and ends to get ready. Picked my spot on the start line, and ick, immediately felt kind of slow out there as 30% of the field sped away. Hit 1K at 3:30, hoping that I could hold on and some of the field would come back.
Truthfully, neither happened. I might have picked off a few by a mile (5:42) and half way, but my pace wasn't getting any easier. Crossed 2 at 11:30, and was falling back on my heels. Half way through the final lap a couple guys tried passing me, and then the 2nd woman (1st woman was in a pack just ahead). That did wake me up a bit over the final stretch, and I manageed to pick off a couple, but get outkicked by one or two as well. It's all very fuzzy at this point.
Final damage: 17:57, 42nd place (out of only 142), 2nd in age group. First time (other than injury DNF at NYC Marathon in 2009) that I've been beaten in my age group since 2006. Dang, he was only 16 sec up, but it would have taken a major hurt to even get in that range on Saturday.
Coaching in the afternoon was far more exciting than my own plodding race. The varsity kids ran solid, but the team's 1 and 2 runners had a rough day. The scoring top 5--plus several other up and comers--will all be back next year. I hope we make it back to Portland for this big, exciting meet. Although I'll give the course itself a B or B-. Race management and quality (both open race and high school divisions) get an A+.