Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Red Mountain 30K

It's been too long. But not because I haven't had anything to write about. For example, since my last post I shaved my beard (and my head), Catherine started her new job full time, I committed to law school at BYU, Catherine and I had our body compositions measured at the University of Utah's exercise science lab, and I finally met my brother and sister in law. Any of those could have provided material for a blog post, but I was lazy, so instead all you get is this paragraph. Sorry.

Anyways, Catherine and I went down to St. George this weekend for the Red Mountain 30K. I originally signed up for the 50K, but I decided that I'd rather run the shorter race and train through it than run the longer race and take a week for recovery afterward. Since I'm still new to running, I though this would be better for me overall, and half a week later I stand by my decision.

The race started at 7:00, but because the course was a point to point we had to be at the finish in Ivins by 6:00. From there, the race volunteers shuttled us to the start, just west of Veyo and up the canyon from Gunlock.

The course was not technical, but it was fast and beautiful. From the start, we ran about 12 miles down the canyon to Highway 91, which we then followed back into Ivins. The course ran long (19.1 miles instead of 18.6) and descended 1,500 feet while climbing only 500.

Catherine and I knew this would be a small race, but we were surprised to see that there were only 12 runners at the start (there were about 50 runners in the 50K). Small fields like that don't usually provide fierce competition, but they do make for a friendly, low-key atmosphere, and during the 20 minutes or so we spent waiting for the start I think Catherine and I met all 10 of our fellow racers.

When I decided to race the shorter distance, I decided to treat the race as a fast training run. Instead of going out too hot from the start, I wanted to force myself to settle into a hard but comfortable pace so that I could still have enough left in my legs to speed up at the end. Based on my times from other races, I thought breaking 2 hours was a reasonable goal--on a true 30K, that would require a pace of
6:27 per mile.

When we finally started, I found myself alone immediately, and I stayed that way for the entire race. The downhill grade and the perfect weather (it was freezing at the start but things heated up quickly) let me push harder than expected. I ended up averaging 6:11 per mile for the entire race and came in comfortably under 2 hours, even with the extra half mile. And I felt good enough at the end to crank out the final mile in 5:55.

I was a little embarrassed when I crossed the finish line, and even more so when the organizer gave me a big trophy. I didn't (and still don't) feel like I deserved any special recognition--I won because there wasn't any competition, not because I'm especially fast. (To drive that point home, the second finished came in nearly 30 minutes behind me, and he missed a turn and cut more than a mile off the course.) Still, my performance does tell me that I'm getting faster.

After eating and drinking a little food, I left my shoes and headed back onto the course to wait for Catherine. When she came along she was looking strong, especially since she had just run farther than she ever had before. She was the second woman across the line, too. As always, I was happy to see her.

We went back to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a shower and a nap, and then we stopped by the Saint George temple (Jeppsen-history enthusiasts will recall that that's where I proposed to Catherine) on our way home. It was a busy weekend, but we had a good time. We'll probably be back next year.