Having done some long Elliptigo rides of late, I was curious what kind of running shape I am in. So, with lots of friends signing up for the Inaugural Space Rock Trail Half Marathon at Vasquez Rocks Park, I figured I’d give it a go…. oops, make that give it a try…. a “GO” of course to me, has a completely different meaning.
The race was a trail half, though so I had no time goal in mind. I figured I’d start cautiously and see what happens. The race stared at the parking area, just where our HDR New Years Day runs begin. It took the same trail (the PCT) southeast towards the freeway. It went under the freeway. Then it made a right and left the PCT. It continued over a saddle heading southeast. Then it made a sharp left turn and things got crazy. The trail they had us on went straight up. I was doing well, I thought, and the guys on the hill ahead of me were all walking! I kept my quick candence baby steps going as long as I could and soon I was walking too… well not really walking. I was leaning far forward, hands on knees, driving my feet into the ground trying to climb as quickly as possible. I found myself gaining on the guys ahead…. one though caught me….
I set up this climb as a Strava segment… .7 miles about 700 feet climb….. I’m number 7 on the list.
At the top it turned and went quickly down. There was another up and then a bit of a longer downhill. A group of 4 of us were all pretty close here. I Listerrolled them…. (translation – I used my ability to let loose on the downhill to pass them.) We started another climb. I knew we were heading toward the high point of the ridge on the PCT, as I had run there a few times on our New Years runs.
We runners were getting rather spaced out by now. Heading into the long downhill back to the freeway I could see no one ahead nor did I catch a glimpse or hear a sound of anyone behind. I came across Joe Diorio, who was out spectating. He seemed surprised or glad to see me (later he said he thought I was top 10)
Passing back under the freeway, we did not get to take the PCT straight back to the finish line. We made a left and took a clockwise loop up and over the famous rocks and back toward the finish. It felt cruel. More climbing…. even after the top, we went through several undulations through ravines and up the other side. I found myself closing in a couple guys. I passed one about a half mile out. I passed another with a quarter to go. There was another, that I had seen often in the race ahead, and I tried my best to catch him. The last 200 meters were a straight way and I was gaining… but I was not quite able to get him….
The tace turned out to be 14.88 miles by my garmin. Trail runs are not necessarily exact lengths. I was 13th overall out of several hundred runners. I won my age group!!! My time was 2:22… not so impressive, but this was the hardest trail race I have ever done… Based on my finish compared to others… A friend of mine, Jose Estrada, (left in picture) (dad of a former runner) who recently ran a sub 1:30 half, was 6th place with a time of 2:09… So, I think I am indeed in pretty good shape now….. but I’m probably gonna be sore…