Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Xterra Fisher Farms 10-Mile Trail Race Report

This is an archive-edition race report for the September 5, 2010, XTERRA Fisher Farms 10-Mile Trail Race.

The Fisher Farms Trail Race was the final event in a series of four NC trail races sponsored by XTERRA. Dirty Spokes Productions organized each race. And, from my experience at the Fisher Farms race, they did a nice job of it. (Although, it is odd that they didn’t have a race photographer. But, those pictures usually suck, anyway) The race offered a 5-mile and 10-mile option. The 5 miler consisted of one loop around the course, and the 10 miler doubled that. I chose the latter.

Fisher Farms Landscape
Fisher Farms is a recently developed park near Davidson, NC; an area with pleasantly rolling hills and lots of horse farms. The well-marked course utilized a series of mountain bike trails. So, there were plenty of moderate drop-offs, switchbacks, and jumps on this otherwise well groomed single-track trail. Much of the trail terrain was quite technical and offered a few rolling, decently steep hills. Thus, even running the same trail twice, I was never bored with it.

I rationalized my selection of this race based on the fact that it was less than three hours away from home. That is, I wouldn’t have to impose my overnight absence on my family, because I could surely wake up early and drive three hours to the race.

But, my wife told me that rationale was silly and urged me to just spend the night in a hotel near the race. So, I did. I found the cheapest hotel on the internet within a 30-minute drive from the race, and spent a very uncomfortable, sleep-deprived night there.

As many of you know, lack of sleep on the eve of a race doesn’t stop us from racing. So, I was energized when I woke up (for the fourth time) on Sunday morning. I dressed quickly, checked out of the room, and walked out into the cool morning air. It was still a bit dark at 6:45 (I wanted to get there early). And, traffic was light, which made my slight detours on the way to the race less frustrating.

Arriving an hour early, I picked up my packet and noted the rather simple, yet nicely crafted New Balance tech shirt in the bag. I stayed in the car to keep warm while other racers drove into the lot. I listened to my iPod for the first time in months.

Approximately thirty minutes before race time, I chewed a couple of shot bloks, put on my shoes, and did a few strides on the gravel road. The sun glistened on the dew-dotted hills. People stood in line at the port-o-potty. And, a Dachsund pranced around the parking lot proudly, because he was the only dog there. I laughed to myself when I noted that the "barn" of this race was actually across the parking lot from a real barn.

The RD called us to the starting point, which was a few meters from the starting line. He instructed us to follow him for about a tenth of a mile on the gravel road before turning around toward the starting line. This helped distribute runners into more manageable pacing groups. As we began our steady run, I saw the second-place winner of my last trail race. So, I figured my chances of being the overall winner this time were pretty much nil (read with ironic tone).

Upon entering the trail, I settled in behind a pair of Asics. This one didn't like running down hills. So, I passed at the first convenient opportunity. I'd forgotten my watch this time. So, I had to run on pure perceived effort, which is pretty much what I do all the time. So, running along at a comfortably fast pace for the first mile felt like a great way to start the race.

I ran behind a rather chatty, energetic fellow who seemed to want to coach me while we passed people. Shortly after mile 2 (I knew the distance because he provided reports from his Garmin every couple of minutes) I realized this guy was actually running the five mile race. So, I stopped keeping up with him in order to conserve my energy.

The question of whether to pass or pace kept cropping up in my mind during this race. Being that the course was predominantly single track, there were few convenient points at which to pass people. And, given my somewhat anti-competetive nature, I found myself settling on the pace of the person in front of me for a while. I wondered if I was being rude. Then I wondered if it would be more rude for me to pass the person right away. Then I wondered if it would be even more rude if I'd been running behind this person for a while only to spring past them when I decided to do so. (You see why I have very few friends)

The first five-mile lap was over much more quickly than I expected. I felt great. I grabbed a cup of water from the friendly aid station dude and set it down on the ground. (I know. You're supposed to throw it)

The last five miles went quickly, too, thanks to a very accomplished 60-something-year old runner. (He placed second in his age group. That's how I know) I was really impressed with this guy, not because of his age, but his size. He was at least as tall as I am (just shy of 6') and rather stocky on top. But, he knew how to move. And, that sort of thing is inspiring to me. So, I kept up with his pace for around two or three miles before finding a wide part of the trail at which to pass him. And, then I used as much of my energy as I knew how to use to race the last mile or so to the finish.

I placed second in my age group, 16th overall, with a time of 1:29:xx. But, then, it was a pretty small race. So, that's not a huge deal to most racers. But, it feels good to place, because I've never received an AG award before. The medal is neat. And, my four-year old claimed it as soon as I arrived home.

The weapon of choice for this race: Inov-8 f-lite 230

Inov-8 f-lite 230 after the race

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