Woodmonster Trail Race 2017

In Running, Race Report

Bib #987. Net Time: 1:12:05
6/17 M20-29; 28/198 Overall.
88/156 overall with a 36-minute handicap.
5th overall Triple Crown Men’s Open.

PRE-RACE
I was pretty psyched going into this race. There’d be familiar faces, familiar trails, and, as usual, no expectations for a distance PR. As with the marathon I ran in Seattle last week, I took this past week off, so I felt relatively fresh (despite the marathon). My only concerns this race were (1) my toes, and (2) flea bites. Regarding my toes, the marathon wrecked my left index toe, and almost destroyed the toenail on the right index — to the point where I had to decide whether to race in sandals today. As for the irritating flea bites I incurred the past two weeks, I blame my cat Felix. He’s now flea-free, but I’m still dealing with residual fleas on my bed. They apparently like to bite my arms, ankles, and right hip.

MILES 1-3. Stream Trail Going Up. 8:36 min/mile, 695 ft ascent, 0 descent.
Woodmonster features an age-grade handicap, and I had the privilege of being one of the 13 most handicapped. I also had the privilege of starting with two of the fastest runners in the race (Ken Cluff and Kevin Petow). I started at the front of the group with them, and as the clocked ticked to 9:06, the three of us shot out. Problem was, they started at a sub-6 pace. While I tried to hang on, I quickly realized that that pace was not going to work for me. I also realized that I actually needed to switch out of road-racing mode. This meant focusing on managing cardio-muscular effort as opposed to pace.

MILE 4. Stream Trail Going Down. 6:26 min/mile, 385 ft descent, 0 ascent.
My most favorite part of this course — the downhill payoff. It’s fun, it’s risky, it’s fast. At the end of Stream Trail Going Up (i.e. the northern Skyline Blvd parking lot loop-turn), I had caught up to Dan Ditty, who had started 4 minutes ahead of me. He started flying down the hill. I followed closed behind.

MILE 5. The Woodmonster. 13:15 min/mile. 565 ft ascent, 15 ft descent.
The “fun” part of this course. Going in (and passing Dan while doing so), I said to myself: “No walking. No walking. No walking!” I held out for half a mile. From the data, I ended up walk-hiking for about 2.5 minutes, over 3 episodes, though I actually kept up pace-wise with a couple people attempting to run upward and probably passed the most people here.

MILES 6-8.4. West Ridge to Chown to French to Orchard, back to Stream. 7:47 min/mile. 935 ft descent, 65 ft ascent.
The most technical part of this course. After completing The Woodmonster, I was ready to be *done*. The only obstacles left were (1) not to miss the turn onto French, on the fast, rocky, slippery descent down Chown, and (2) not tumble off the cliff to my death. Fortunately, trail markers were abundant and on-site trail monitors ensured that we made the correct turns.

I was also extremely fortunate to catch up to Evan Paul (who had also started 4 minutes ahead of me) and use him as a pacer. (Thanks Evan!) I was also fortunate to not fall (like the last time I flew down Chown), despite a couple near misses (including one where fellow runner I was passing yelped in alarm).

Unfortunately, Evan incurred a gnarly battle wound on a sharp turn on Orchard. He got back up quickly but it was clear that he needed a moment. After exchanging pleasantries, I passed him to sped down the last half mile toward my conclusion of this year’s East Bay Triple Crown.

POST-RACE
I had actually gone into this race with a glimmer of hope that I could move from 5th to 3rd in this year’s Triple Crown Men’s Open. This was possible if I could run some 40 seconds per mile faster than the 3rd place runner during this race. But alas, he actually increased his margin on me by 3 minutes, extending our gap to 8 minutes.

This was also the last meetup for Jeanine Holmlund’s LMJS trail class, with whom I’ve been trail running for over four months this year. There’ll be some nominal fun runs, but I’ll miss the structure and regular attendees of our class.

WATER & FUEL
No additional fluids during the race. One GU just before Mile 4.

GOALS
1. Have fun. Avoid injury. Avoid death. ✔
2. Triple Crown Men’s Open 3rd place. ✖

NEXT
The San Francisco Marathon on July 23th. No more trail races in the foreseeable future… unless someone wants to run a trail marathon or 50K with me!

ADDENDA
* I was actually asked about my Strava inactivity the past couple weeks. I guess people notice! Hahah.
* This was my the first time running the Woodmonster segment with so many simultaneous people. There’s a steep uphill section where there’re literally logs used for steps every few feet. When I first turned into this section, the vertical conga line of runners dotting steps up almost made me laugh out loud.
* I was again very thankful for the trail class previews of this course (of which I could attend 2 of 3). There were fellow racers who were surprised by how technical some of the downhills were, which I had already mentally prepared for from the class experience.

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