March 1, 2010

Catalina Buffalo Run

This weekend, I traveled to Catalina Island with Pete and his parents to run the trail half marathon around Avalon.

Looking back, I'm still not entirely sure why I signed up for this race, knowing the following:
1. I don't like going to Catalina because I get sick on the hour long boat rides.
2. I was aware that the course elevation gain was about 1600 ft in the first 5 miles.  Most of my training runs are on the flat, sea-level beach.
3. This was a trail run, and I had only completed two trail runs my entire life.

But, I guess it was something to do, and it was definitely a challenging experience I wish to never endure again :)  Shout out to trail runners - what is wrong with you people?!

Here's the play-by-play of how it all went down:

Pre-race - Woke up around 7am and walked to the area to pick up our race packets and shirts.  Number 131 - yay a palindrome number!  Pete got number 187...which is the month and year I was born, so I told him it was lucky, of course, and threatened to swap our timing chips so I could be really fast!  I ate a banana, some of the Wheaties we got in our bags, and watermelon sport beans.  We took a group picture (Pete's dad ran the 5k) and headed to the starting line for the 9am start.  Props for having a "late" start time!

Mile 0 - Race dude announces that it's all uphill until about mile 6, and then it's all back down.

Mile 0.1 - Cruising along around 8:30 pace, still running on the road.  Hey, this isn't too bad!

Mile 0.67 - Holy crap! Why isn't anyone walking yet?!

Mile 1.6 - We reach the trail/dirt road and a "rival" passes me, and starts walking.  I start walking.

Mile 1.8 - I try running again, and make it a few tenths of a mile before I stop and walk again.  I continue this run, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalk, run, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalk pattern for most of the race.

Mile 2.6 - Guy passes me wearing weird sock things that cover his are those?

Mile 3.5 - Look at my garmin and see my average pace is around 11:50 min/mile.  Decide I'm not going to let my pace get any slower than 13 min/mile.

Mile 5.0 - Okay, not letting my pace get any slower than 15 min/mile


Mile 5.4 - Ahhh I don't know how to run downhill - I can't stop!

Mile 5.5 - F#ck, there's a sharp rock in my shoe.  That's what those shoe cover things are for, and I remember that they're called Gaitors.

Mile 6.2 - Oh good, there's another hill to run up.  FML. Start walking again.

Mile 6.6 - Weeeee back downhill the rest of the way!  I remember a conversation I had with Pete once about him learning to run downhill on trails, and his advice came to me in a very Yoda-like voice: "Lean forward, while running down hill, you must." So I start leaning forward slightly and it helps me maintain my speed, but stay much more in control.

Mile 7.1 - I see Pete flying downhill towards me (there's one out-and-back portion) and excitedly give him a high five before he makes his way the rest of the way down to the finish!  Wait, he was running downhill...which means we're going back up.  What the hell?! The race dude said it was all downhill after mile 6...efffff this!

Mile 7.8 - Rain. Wind. Lots and lots of mud.  Freezing my ass off.  FML, again.  Can this just be over yet?  Rival passes me and tells me I'm almost to the turn-around.  I'm about 3 minutes behind. Grrrr.

Mile 8.2 - I reach the turn-around point.  Guy looks behind me and says "I see I have an orange shadow."  Whatever drugs that dude is on, I want them.  Then I realize I'm wearing an orange shirt, and pass him.  Now, it's all downhill!

Mile 10 - Weeeeee I'm flyin!  Feel great, and only have a 5k left!

Mile 12 - Can see rival not that far ahead of me...decide I'm going to start picking up my pace around 12.5 miles and try to pass.

Mile 12.5 - I think I'm going to throw up.  I slow down a bit and take it easy the rest of the way...trying not to puke.  I can see the finish...deceivingly far away.

Mile 13.0 - I see Pete and his parents.  (don't barf, don't barf, don't barf...force a smile...don't barf, don't barf, don't barf)

Mile 13.14 - Run past the finish, past the person with the medals, past the person collecting chips, and straight to the trash can and throw up three consecutive times.  Victory!!!  First time ever doing that.  I think it was a combination of too much orange gatorade on the course, and since the last 4 miles was downhill, running really fast (for me).

I ended up finishing in 2:29:14.  Only 5 minutes slower than my very first half marathon...haha.  And only 45 seconds behind said rival :)

I went back and got my medal, and Pete and his parents met up with me.  We walked over to where the 5k awards were being announced and Pete's dad got 2nd in his age group!  

After showers to wash off all the mud, and some food, we walked back over to the half marathon awards since we knew Pete had won his age group with a 1:50:14 - watch out, he's getting uber speedy!  While we were waiting for them to announce his name, I hear my name - what the hell?  Turns out I got 3rd in my age group!  Pretty fun that we all placed!  Here we are with our age group medals.

This was definitely the hardest race I have ever finished in my life.  I'm new to running these distances, and was WAY out of my element running on a trail like this, so I'm proud of myself for pushing through, and doing as well as I did.  I'm fairly sure that I never want to do this race again (at least not until I forgot how much it sucked), but I think it was great mental training for me with my first marathon coming up in just 2 months!  Eek!

Here is the elevation profile and a graph of my pace throughout the race:


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  2. Great job, trail racing isn't easy at the best of times and you jumped in feet you have a target to beat in November's Eco know you want to!