April 5, 2010

Sycamore Canyon 18k Recap

Since it seemed like everyone else was running the 30k or 50k at Sycamore Canyon this weekend, I thought I'd show the 18k some love and run that one...of course it had nothing to do with my physical capabilities, in fact, the bionic woman who got 3rd overall in the 50k with a time of 4:28:xx better be happy I didn't sign up!

In all seriousness, I was looking forward to this race more than any other race yet this year.  I was finally going to meet a lot of the people I talk to daily on Twitter, and I only had to run about 11 miles on a beautiful trail, where walking is justified :)  After swearing off trail runs after finishing the Buffalo Run, I was trying to figure out what was wrong with me that I keep signing up for trail races, and I think I figured it out: I can walk and not feel bad about it.  And, of course, the people are pretty awesome and chill.

I woke up not ridiculously early, around 6am, got ready and started on my 1.5 hour jaunt to Sycamore Canyon.  On my way out of the parking lot I found my first tweep, Stuart!  I was surprised to hear he had an accent, who knew?  I must not have downloaded that Twitter app.

Soon, everyone had congregated near the start, and I saw tons of familiar faces.  Billy got a random fella to take this picture of all of us!  And I have to agree with Billy, what a great looking group of people!

From left to right, Stuart, me, Dave, Billy, Josh, Emil, Kristin, Colin, and Andee

We were all so busy talking that we failed to realize it was 8:28 and the race started in 2 minutes.  Crap, I still had to go to the bathroom.  The race started, and I was just getting to the bathroom.  Because of this, I literally started the race dead last.  I've never done this before, and it wasn't a great feeling since I knew single-track was coming up within the first mile and I wouldn't be passing many people.  Oh well, next time I'll pay more attention, and I'm not really sure how or when passing many people happened, but I ended up finishing 54/80ish so I must've done something right!

The beginning of the first climb wasn't too bad.  I was still running, and my legs didn't have that awful heavy feeling they've had lately.  Nearing the end of the single track, though, the trail literally went straight up!  I started walking, and just walking was proving to be difficult - uffdah!  The guy in front of me was mumbling to himself, "this'll teach ya."  I had to laugh; true story.

We then ran on fire road for a while up to the Ray Miller Trail where I had gone hiking last weekend.  I was really excited for this trail - it's absolutely gorgeous and gives way to some breathtaking views.  I also knew this meant I was done with the first major climb - hooray!  I have to say, being a n00b trail runner, I think I'm pretty good at running downhill and managed to catch up to or pass a lot of the people who schooled me on the climb.

A few pictures I took from the Ray Miller Trail on my hike last weekend.

At the bottom of the trail was the first aid station, and also time for me to turn around and run the course in reverse.  I carried a water bottle and Sharkies, so I didn't stop at the station and turned right back around to save some time.  Thinking about climbing back up everything I just ran down was daunting, and I made a personal committment that I would run anything that was relatively flat or slightly downhill, and just walk the rest, and it seemed to work pretty well.  

Since I'm not the best at climbing, but do well on the descents, I had been playing a cat-and-mouse game with a few people, including this girl and her dad (or maybe grandpa?).  What was special about the girl with the old dude was that I could tell she was in my age group, and I was fairly confident that her or I would be in the 3rd place slot based on who I saw coming back up the hill when I was still going down.  My time was already becoming less and less impressive and definitely not brag-worthy, so the least I could do was place in my age group and get a kick-ass ribbon!  After turning around, I could hear her approaching me again, and tried incorporating more running into the routine.  This didn't work very well, and by mile 8 the girl and the old dude were probably 1/4 of a mile ahead of me and gaining, we were nearing the end of the climb, and I had pretty much convinced myself that I wasn't going to get the kick-ass ribbon.  Oh well, life goes on.

Soon enough I was back on the fire road and had about 2 miles of running downhill on the road to the finish.  Nobody was really around me at this point so I just did my own thing, took in the sights and sounds, and made my way back down and quickly and safely as possible.  With about a mile left, I could see the girl and old dude not far below me so I picked up the pace a bit.  Maybe I had a chance after all!

With about 3/4 of a mile left, a guy literally FLEW by me...turns out he was the leader of the 30k (he ended up finishing it in 2:15).  That's cool, dude.  It didn't phase me...and you too should just be happy I didn't sign up for that race!

Anyway, with less than a half of a mile left we were back on a flat dirt road, my legs were really feeling fatigued, and I could see the gates to the campground/finish area.  The girl and old guy were also only about 100 feet away.  I knew I could catch them.  I kicked it into full gear, used what I had left, and passed them both with about 50 feet to spare, finishing in 2:18:34.  I then got yelled at by the old dude about sandbagging, the race just being for fun, and that there was no "prize car" or anything for running fast across the finish line.  Thanks, man.  Maybe it's trail race etiquette not to kick it in at the end or something, but that's just how I've always been told to end races, it just kind of happens, and I had been trying to catch up to them for 3 miles!  I just wanted my ribbon!  And, for the record, I did end up getting 3rd in my age group and got my ribbon :-)

I finished just before 11am, but didn't leave the race until about 2:30.  Having only ran the 18k, I had the privilege of watching everyone else finish their races and had a great time just hanging out and watching everyone kick butt.  Josh finished the 30k soon after me, getting 2nd overall, and Colin and Kristin prove the be the nicest, cutest, and most amazing running couple ever and finished their first "official" (not to mention difficult w/about 6000' of climbing) 50k together in just under 5 and a half hours.  Great job everybody!

I stole this picture from Billy...seriously, they're awesome.

I then had the pleasure of ending my evening at the weekly s'moree at the Cooley's.  It was a great time with great company, and instead of drooling over the s'more pictures Colin always shares, I got to experience the wonder first-hand :-) I was not disappointed!

I also have to say, it was truly a great time meeting and hanging out with everyone yesterday.  I've never felt that welcomed by a group of people I've never met before - you all rock!  

Garmin Connect info if anyone is interested: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/29010987


  1. Re: Garmin Datum:
    Looks like your dropped your wrists a bit in the 2nd half of the race. Merely an inconsistency to work on. Nice work,


  2. hey, it's always good to finish strong! It may be a "fun race" but it's still a race. Or next time you can run the 30 or 50k so your finishing kick won't be as strong. :) Anyways, congrats on earning the ribbon and it was good meeting you!

  3. Awesome day, top to bottom for sure. Race and S'moree were both fun! Great job out there Andrea...nice hanging with ya yesterday.

  4. Sounds like you had a good time out there ... I love the trail running crowd, especially the PCTR crowd.

    BTW, I think you did the right thing kicking at the end. It's a race. That's what you're supposed to do. If finishing order doesn't mean anything to the guy and it's all just for fun, he should just let you run the way you want to and mind his own business. If it does matter, then he needs to step it up and not let you beat him. Either way, you're in the right, regardless of how friendly the race is.

  5. Great job! It cracks me up that the old dude yelled at you. F' him. I'm totally with Sam on this one. Great to meet you and fun hanging out after the race!

  6. Yep what Sam and Josh said ditto! A race is a race! You always kick a finish!

    Great job and don't let that accent thing phase you!

  7. Wow. That OC marathon is going to seem super easy (and flat) after all these trail runs.

    Great report!


  8. Great race recap Andrea and thanks for the kind words. I blame any niceness and cuteness on Kristin. It was awesome to finally meet up in person and glad you made it to the s'moree. Definitely come back for another one soon so we can try the pop tarts.

    As for the old dude, forget about him. It's your race to run and no reason not to race it in.

    Hope you have a great last long run this weekend and happy taper. Can't wait to hear how awesome you do at the OC mary.

  9. Great meeting you before the race Andrea, and way to earn the ribbon! The trails are in your blood now...you'll be back for more!