The Spring Fling Half was my first trail race of the year and it was my wife’s first ever trail race. My goal for this race was to stick to my plan and use it as a training opportunity for my next race which will be a training race for the one after that and so on. Now I’ve ran this course before in October of 2016 and I had a few issues that I wanted to clean up this go around.
When I ran this course in October I went out too fast and didn’t have much of a nutrition plan, so after that race I quickly changed one of those issues and started researching different types of eating lifestyles. I’ve tried to eat healthy for the most part over the last 10 years, but to be honest I’ve always fell short and found myself throwing down junk food like it was going out of style. I was able to find one that would work for me and in about 2 weeks I was feeling like I had made the right decision and it had a dramatic impact on my running. I also joined the Trail Tribe through Jeff Browing (awesome online coaching at a fraction of the cost)
While I was getting my eating under control I was also working on my running by making myself go out slow on any run over 6 miles and used Jeff’s training tips for my trail runs and at the gym. At first it felt like I was going at a snails pace, but I kept telling myself that it’s not how you start but how you finish and I’ve always finished races looking and feeling like I had nothing left to give except my last will and testament.
Fast forward to last weekend (April 18th 2017) and I felt like I was ready to put everything I had been doing into motion. On the day of the run it was quite clear that the course was going to be muddy, wet and most likely slow due to having to watch your every step and throttle down on the downhill sections. None the less everyone was going to have to run the same course and I wasn’t hearing anyone crying, I mean this is the Pacific Northwest for crying out loud 🙂
The course was just what I thought it was going to be along with a water crossing that we had to cross twice. There was a section of the trail that was about 2.5-3 feet deep and cold enough that after crossing it I couldn’t feel my feet very well for a good quarter of a mile. We’ve been getting a lot of rain in Oregon lately and the trail hasn’t been able to absorb it all. The next challenge was the hill that we had to climb around mile 5 or 6. The hill is challenging enough without all the mud and there was no way to scale it without hiking, running it was out of the question (for me anyway). Once I reached the top of the hill I knew right away that I felt better at that point then what I did the first time I ran this course, so it gave me mental fuel that what I was doing was working for me. Another thing that gave me some mental fuel was a couple that we run and train with made the trip up to cheer us on and didn’t tell us they were going to be there, so imagine my surprise when I came down a hill section and was met by two people yelling my name, holding and sign and ringing a cow bell. I swear, Jamie and I have the best friends.
After making it over half way through the race, I decided it was time to pick up the pace and see if my plan was going to pay off. I knew that I still had one more hill section which has a number of false summits (stupid hill) but I also knew that I had the energy to make a run for the finish line. When I made my move, I ended up trailing an older gentleman who was one hell of a runner and I knew that if I could just stay with him through the last downhill section that I had a good chance to PR the course even with the muddy conditions. The last downhill section I threw caution to the wind and let it rip while trying not to end up balling myself up at the bottom. The plan worked and when I crossed the finish line I had bettered my time by almost 4 minutes on a crappy course and I felt 100 times better then I usually do at the end of a race. To be honest at first I didn’t think I had PRed the course and was just happy that I didn’t get hurt, but after getting home and looking at my time from last October I was surprised to see that I had ran faster then I did the first go around. It just goes to show how unprepared I was the first time. Jamie also ran a solid race and put up a better time then what she was shooting for. Jamie has been working her butt off and putting in the time she needs as she prepares for 2 relay races this year (Wild Rouge Relay and the Cascade Lakes Relay). Jamie is a strong consistent runner, but she has been training pretty dang hard the last few months and is determined to put up some sweet times in both races.
Overall I feel like I’m on the right path with my training and I’m looking forward to my next race in May (the Sasquatch 50k ). Happy running everyone