Monday, December 16, 2013

USATF Masters Club National Championships

I wanted to do a big race this year. These days big to most runners I know is a marathon. Rather than a fall or early winter marathon outside of Alaska--with a little cajoling from a friend--I decided on the USATF XC Club National Championships in Bend OR. Good choice! It was a great trip. All that I need now is a club of like-minded runners who would want to go to future races.

The 10K course course, set on a 2K loop at Rivers Edge Golf Course was wicked tough. It featured something like 200 feet of vertical per lap and some crazy, rocks, an off-canter downhill turn, and zig zags through a pine grove.

">Here is a link to some pictures.

In hindsight I'm not sure if my training plan of 1/3 treadmill, 1/3 outdoor running, and 1/3 skiing--with the emphasis of quality work on the treadmill--was the right balance for this race. I might have been as well or better off with doing most of the harder workouts on skis, or long hill reps outside. Speed/speed endurance had little to do with the race. It was about endurance and agility. I think I got the latter part down OK, but I definitely felt it on the long hill (better part of 800 or 900 m of climbing each lap) that sapped my strength. Plus the competition was good. Duh, it Was a National Championship.

My race plan was to run the first lap like a tempo run and then pick it up, hopefully run strongest over the last two laps. I envisioned more of a rolling course, but once we got there figured that the climbing, and cold temps/snow cover, would be to my advantage.

We (300 in the men's masters race) started and finished on a long hill (about 300 meters). After the first turn onto the loop (which was a a little over 1.1K long) I saw two in my age group just ahead, and by their jerseys (Atlanta Track Club and Genesee Valley Harriers) and figured they the were ones to run with (indeed, they would end up 3rd and 4th). But I held back about 20 or 30 meters behind them, planning to make a move later.

The first hill took about 1:10, and I really don't remember exactly where I was on the lap (somewhere between 8:30 and 8:40 had elapsed). I just tried to stay on my feet, and not get knocked down on the crazy downhills.

The second lap seemed okay until about 3.5K, when the descent ended, as we wound through the zig zags. Rather than picking it up, or maintaining, I fell back and lost 20 places. I just shuffled up the long hill and tried not to go under so early. Rebounded on the downhill stretch, as traffic had cleared, and I was able to gain back some placings--but those two in my age group were gone. My two lap (plus the start) split was 16:22, so that lap would have been 7:40 or 7:50.

The next two laps were much the same (7:40 and 7:53), losing some ground on the ups, but weaving and bobbing through the crazy downhills to catch up.

I passed about 15 or 20 runners on the last lap, including two other guys from my age group, but a few others did outkick me. So I finished 6th in the 55-59 age group, missing that top 5 about 30 sec. It was a hard day but a good one, and fun to be part of it.

Here are some links.

Bend Bulletin newspaper article: