Xterra Topanga Turkey Trot 2011 – Race Report

Gear:
NorthFace Better than Naked Shorts + jacket
New Balance Tech Tee
Saucony ProGrid Peregrine (video review)
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld 12oz  (review)
Garmin 310XT – GARMIN DATA
XTERRA puts on a gem with this race and it is definitely a challenging one. If you want a race that will give you the feeling of a being alone on a trail but also have the support of a few hundred of your closest friends this is the run. Last year I was pretty excited to finish this race and just get it done, but this year I had plans. In the last few weeks my mile splits have been getting faster. The two biggest changes I have made have been really focusing on good form when running and eating better (paleo), that’s it. The problem is that I have not learned how to deal with this new found burst of speed very well and I have tended to make every run for the last two weeks a breakthrough run. 
It is exciting to see your training start to magically show up unexpectedly during training runs. Any athlete knows you cannot sustain break through performances every time out the gate you’ll kill yourself if you try.  So naturally I was trying to kill myself every time.
This thanksgiving turkey trot was pretty special because I got to meet a lot of DailyMile friends that I only knew through their training logs. It was pretty cool to finally put a face to someone you technically only know digitally. I met Pete, Kevin, Stu, DJ and Claus; I felt like I knew all of them right away. We all seemed to just have naturally flowing conversation and just like they are on DM, they were super supportive and we all just love to be outside. I felt sort of like the the American Legion or something, we all just were super excited to be there and talking about running and training. It was cool to feel everyone’s positive vibes and its always nice to know someone; I always like cheering on people especially those I know because I understand how much effort they put forth to be there.
Race day was pretty cold just like last year. I arrived early and ran a few laps around the parking lot to stay loose.  My calf was tender to the touch and the day prior to the race I actually skipped a workout because it had been flaring up. I was hoping that a warm up would loosen it and allow me to charge uphill, but it was not to be. My plan was to complete the 10k in 1 hour +/- 3 min. My plan changed in the first .25 miles. I headed out at a brisk pace to try and keep up with Pete.  Pete was also trying to be right around an hour so I figured if I stuck with him for the uphill section I could set myself well for the +/- 3 minute goal. In his highlighter yellow shirt he floated along, I caught my last glimpse of him near the first false summit. I did not see him after that point. He actually had an awesome race and came in right at the hour and was 28th overall which is freaking awesome for his second time at this race. I also met Kevin before the run. He passed me on this uphill section. For not having trained he looked really strong going uphill.
From the get go I decided that this was not my day and I was going to just enjoy the trail and try and beat last year’s time of 1:15:46 ish. I know it was pretty ambitious of me to try and shave 15 minutes but…go big or go home right?
I stopped twice because my foot started turning inward due to the calf pulling. So I loosened my shoe laces to try and let my foot have a little more blood flow and kept power hiking uphill’s, running flats and downhill sections….a’la ultra.  I got to the top near Eagle Rock and my miles/minute were about the same as the year before so I was going to have to hustle to get some time back.
On the downhill section I almost cut my mile in half.  I went from a 12:35 min/mile to a 6:47 min/mile.  I was not going to be able to sustain it but I knew that it would give me a few seconds in the bank to get under last year. I passed a lot of people on that section of trail. A few tried to keep pace and we would zigzag between other runners. There was one guy with Cal gear who really pushed a hard pace downhill, I tried to stick with him but he dashed off…I caught him a few hundred yards before the Musch Trail section and did not see him again.
Right before this section I also caught up to Kevin who was having some quad issues. I briefly chatted with him and then took off down the trail. I love the Musch Trail. Its single track with gnarly steps and rocks but very run-able. I dove right in and got behind a pack of 4 or five. Last year I allowed the pack to lead me out and it helped me keep on pace. But this year I knew that if I wanted to beat last year I would have to get aggressive. I asked for permission and they let me go. I then hooked up with a pack of three runners who were doing about 9:15 – 9:30 pace so I stayed there till I felt recharged.
Our pack passed a few runners but one runner came barreling down like he was Kilian Jornet. I mean this guy must have been doing 7 min/miles and going all out. So when he passed me I quickly jumped on his wheel. The three runner pack I was with was doing really well, but that instinct to chase took over. I asked to pass with the intention of running that guy down. He was cruising and I wanted to have someone else lead out until I felt I could really give it a good push till the end. While tailing the barreling guy, he cleared the way for me to pass a pack of 6-8 runners who were being led out buy a runner wearing a pink jacket. I had seen her earlier on the uphill section and knew she had great mechanics and was quick but that pack was not taking the trail as aggressively. Knowing my shoes had the tread to handle a faster pace so I opted to keep on chasing the barreling guy.
I passed the barreling guy when the terrain started rolling.  He held the pace for a few minutes but when the Musch threw in some up and down he let up and I took the lead. Once you pass a runner, even on a training run you get a boost of energy. So I pushed up a few rollers and looked back and he was gone. At that point I was running in a pocket by myself which was nice. I would pick off a runner and then one or two runners would pick me off but my concern was holding off that pack of 8 or so.
I caught two runners who kept jockeying for position and I stayed content to be the third man on this one. We passed a few 5k runners who were still out on course and a couple other 10k runners who ran out of steam. At the finishing stretch that is a pavement I really tried to beat one of them but he stayed ahead of me by less than a second.
Overall I am content with the race. I am not happy because my plan did not work as I wanted but I think it was a blessing in disguise. Often times we need these types of struggles to keep the ego in check and remember that we are out there to do our best on that day, but regardless of how it goes there are still more chances.
Finishing Info:
Splits: 12:51, 13:01, 12:35, 6:47, 8:50, 9:32
Place: 77 of 245
Age Group: 5th Place
Time: 1:09:10
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