Friday, October 28, 2011

Portland Trail Series Report

This last week we completed the final race in the inaugural Portland Trail Series. The races were held on the various trails in Forest Park every other Wednesday night at 6:15 from late August through late October, with 5 races total. At only $50 for the series, it was a bargain! And we can't get enough of Forest Park, so of course we were in. Zach and I signed up and our friend Justin (Alisa's husband) did too. The way it works is you earn points for every race and they use your best 4 scores to rank you overall. It was neat to see the same people out there and to get to know a few new faces.

Unfortunately, I only completed 3 races so I was out of the overall running. The series spans a big chunk of most people's peak training, so it was interesting to see how people's performance changed each time. For me, the races caught me right after my two big events (the 50k run and the Portland Marathon) as well as one in the middle of my training where I was in top shape. To be able to place in the overall rankings, it is important to be able to actually run all of them. Sounds obvious, but it is surprisingly difficult!

The time span of the races also includes a pretty significant change of seasons... August had warm weather, green leaves , and full sunlight. By this week we were racing in tights, among fallen leaves, in the PITCH BLACK. Another big factor!

Race #1- August 31- No report. We missed the first race because it fell in the middle of our vacation in Central Oregon. Justin was also out of town that week running a 50k.

Race #2 September 14
5.18 miles, 877 ft elevation gain

This race was 4 days after my big 31 miler. I was actually feeling pretty recovered but planned to take it easy. That plan went out the window when the race started. I got caught up and had a blast running hard. I discovered that among the mid-pack ladies I actually am a pretty strong climber! I was happy to pass quite a few gals up the big hill. They caught up to me on the flat and downhill, but I turned my burners on and dropped the pack I was running with in the steep downhill at the end. The last quarter mile was on Leif Erickson which is a slightly downhill dirt road, and that stretch is home to my fastest running of all time, so I was loving it. Eat my dust!

47:39 (9:12 pace)
5/18 AG (30-39), 10/31 Females, 43/67 overall

Race #3 September 28
4.97 miles, 645 ft elevation gain

My second race of the series fell at a great time for me training-wise. I was all recovered from the 50k run and tuning up for the Portland Marathon. I used this race as speed work. We got off to a rocky start- Zach and I picked Justin up and we were running very late... we literally parked and ran up to the start as they were counting down. Good warm up I guess! I grabbed my race number and folded it up and shoved it in my bra. I'm sure the guy at the finish line liked that. Hehe. It was less hilly with just the one climb so it was a fast race. It felt like a 5k. There was a girl trailing me the whole time but I could tell she was working hard to keep up so it didn't bother me. I eventually asked her how old she was, ha! She said 27 so I welcomed her to tag along. I dropped her as I bombed down the Wild Cherry trail again and sprinted to the finish on Leif. Weee! 

40:28 (8:08 pace)
6/16 AG, 10/27 Females, 38/58 overall

Race #4- October 12 -No report. This was 3 days after my marathon and I was way too sore. My foot was feeling better but I still had some pain and I knew there was no way I could run. I ended up taking off two full weeks so this was obviously way too soon. I hated to miss it, especially because I knew it took me out of the running for the series standings. Even though I had finished 5th and 6th in my Age Group in the previous races, the girls who finished ahead of me were not necessarily doing all the races and weren't going for the series points. Plus, one girl was the overall leader and was therefore out of the AG rankings. Anyway... woulda, coulda, shoulda, etc. Zach and Justin ran the race and had a blast. It was 8 miles and got very dark by the end, sounds exciting! I stayed home and made fall crafts.

Race #5 October 26
5.37 miles, 896 ft elevation gain

The final race was this past Wednesday. It was twilight as we lined up at 6:15 and dark already in the forest. As the race went on, it managed to get even darker and became pitch black. It was SO weird! Everyone had headlamps. I had only run one time since the marathon and that was only 3 miles. My foot is better but I'm just still feeling a little achy and sore all over. My body is still very much in recovery mode, so I went into this race knowing I needed to go easy. Since I was out of the running for series points, that was fine. It kind of stung though to hang back as the faces I'd gotten familiar with ran past me. Whatever! Not only was I nursing a sore body, the dark was a total factor. It was a trip. I ran really slow and careful and just tried not to fall. My ankle and hip hurt quite a bit, especially on the downhills. I was running so slow I didn't feel like I was breathing hard at all, except on the climbs. It was weird. When we hit the Leif Erickson trail I did run faster but didn't push too much.

55:03 (10:15 pace)
9/13 AG, 13/22 Females, 38/49 overall

After this last race we headed down to the Lucky Lab, a local brewery with good food, for the post-series party and awards banquet. It was super fun! The people were all really nice and it was cool to acknowledge everyone's hard work.

I should go back and point out some of Zach's highlights from the series. He did so good. So good! 

    Race #2- 8th place, 6:59 pace

    Race #3- 11th place, 6:21 pace

    Race #4- (The race I skipped, it was 8 miles with plenty of climbing) 11th place, 7:05 pace

    Race #5- 6th place, 7:01 pace.

That's overall place, not Age Group. Of course a lot of the guys in the 30-39 AG are super fast, so I think he generally finished about 5th or 6th in his AG. But as I pointed out before, a couple of those guys weren't in the series points race, and two of them were top finishers overall. In the end, drumroll please.......

Zach placed 3rd in his AG for the Portland Trail Race Series!!! And that's among a field of really fast guys (ahem, like Justin! who finished a couple spots back). Yay Zach! He won a nice Nathan fuel belt and got a nice round of applause as he collected his prize. I was so proud!!

He has really found his place in trail running and continues to improve. It's pretty amazing actually. He is both fast AND an excellent trail runner/climber and really stands to be competitive in some of these local races. He nearly finished in the top 10 of his first 50k for cryin out loud! He's very talented and it's cool to watch. Of course I'm a little bitter about him stealing my thunder and all that, but what are you gonna do. He's supported me for years of racing and I'm happy to let him have the spotlight.... for a while.

The race director said they are looking to put on a spring trail series next year, so you bet we'll be signing up! I can't wait. :)


A few pictures:

Trail in the light:


Trail in the dark:


Zach going to retrieve his award (bad picture):

 Award 1

Major Award! Nathan Fuel Belt for 3rd Place in AG:


Raffle prizes- we all got socks!


Trail running buddies- Justin, Zach, and me:

Lucky Lab 



Thanks for reading!


Amy said...

AWESOME! I am so glad you got to do this, and am sad I didn't. I hope they do another fall series as well as the spring so I can run, too!

You did amazingly well! YAY! said...

Holy cow! Zach is rediculous! And so are you! I love your second race where you realized how strong you were on hills. DUH! I could have told you that a long time ago :) but I'm glad you figured it out for yourself.

Congratulations Zach.

and don't you love night running! We do it all winter. Exhilerating.

Great job to you both!

Alisa said...

You did great chica especially considering all the other training you were doing. Next summer, you're going to kick ass.

And seriously Zach and Justin are both crazy fast, aren't they?!

Ewen said...

Shut up about Zach - we know he's good!

Sounds like a fun series. You should try and run all the races next year. I like #3 - I bet the bloke at the finish line did enjoy it when you retrieved your number. Quick warm-ups often work well - there's no time to get nervous!