It looks like I am trying to race my way back to fitness….. I realize that it is not the most efficient way to train but racing gets me out there…..
So, this morning I headed down the lower part of San Francisquito Canyon road to run the Valencia Trails Half Marathon. (They also had a 10K and a 50K.) This race was put on by the same people who did the Space Rock Trail Race that I did last October. The race was in the hills just west of San Francisquito Canyon Road almost all the way down to Santa Clarita.
This was a crazy steep race. It started off on one of those fire break roads that seemed to go straight up the hill. Heading up to the first mile marker, on the ridge, was a .60 mile segment in which it climbed 518 ft – a 16% grade. This is as steep as the grade I complained about at Space Rock… only just a tad shorter. Looking at the Strava Segment I was 12th fastest up it TODAY out of 50 + who posted it on Strava.
After that first climb the craziness continued… There was a nice downhill, where we got to speed up a bit. but then another crazy steep climb. This one was 1/3 mile long at 18% grade. At the top, we were on a ridge with beautiful views in all direction. With all the rain the grass was growing well on either side of the narrow trail. If you look closely there three little peaks here. They were all very steep up and very steep down. Plus, by now we were catching 50K runners who had a 15 minute head start on us. There was a lot of passing to do, but it was difficult to find the opportunity.
I continued trying to pass going down really steep paths all the way to the lower 3.3 mile low point. There was a section near the bottom that was so steep they had dug steps into it and put a rope on the side….. wow….
We made a right turn and it seemed that I had gotten out of the traffic jamb I had been into. I was climbing again, but this time it was run-able. Well mostly – the bottom part averaged 4% and the upper 8%, but there were a few short extra steep sections. Oh, and one log to climb over…
We reached a ridge, went down, then up, then down and up again. There was one part here, where we were running on a road and the road went around a hill, but they diverted us straight up and over it. If you look closely at the elevation profile right before mile 6, you will see it looks almost vertical…. it felt vertical… At one point I could see runners to the left as the ridge curved around. I spotted HDR runner Toke Jensen there. I beat Toke back at Space Rock but he has been putting up some good runs on Strava of late. He is improving quite well. I timed it and he was 2 minutes ahead of me.
After the high point, we left the road and ran a nice LONG downhill. It was pretty, I was catching people little by little, though probably mostly 50K runners. Even here, though the course was not set up for speed. The trail we were on was obviously pioneered by mountain bikers. It did not take the smoothest most proficient path down the canyon. It zigged and zagged it roller coasterred up and down… crazy.
Right near the bottom I heard a voice from above yell “Go Dale” It was Toke. Soon I ran past a check point and turned to climb the hill he was on. We did a half mile climb and then a nice downhill section leading to a turn at mile 10. Miles 10-12 were the same as miles 3-5 (approximately.) Again, mostly not too steep – a log to climb over, oh, but now I was catching the back of the pack of 10K runners. They were very courteous however, stepping aside to clear the way.
As I neared the top of this last hill, I spotted Toke way up around the corner. I timed him at 3:50 ahead of me now. Oh well, the young man got me this time. The last mile and half were all downhill. We ran down the 16% hill we had climbed up at the beginning. There were a few sections where you had to be extra cautious and other sections where I could Lister-roll a bit.
There was a younger man whom I had seen a number of times in the run. He had surprised me by catching me on the downhill leading to mile 10. I let loose a little and ran past him. It leveled off and I was in full out race mode. But then, there was a little climb – one last little uphill. My right calf felt like it was going to cramp so I had to back off a bit. He went by me. But then, one last downhill. My calf seemed to like the downhill better and I let it go again passing him with about 100m to go. The last section leveled off but I kept on the gas and held him off to the finish…. It is always fun to get into a little race at the finish…
The medals are awesome:
I will post the results here when they are available. I expect that I was in the top 20 and that I did well in my age group, just based on not many runners starting ahead of me at the beginning and very few passing me. The few who did, got Lister-rolled on the downhills…