Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lake Chabot 30k

Bonus race!

I.e. it wasn’t in my longer term plans, but I signed up for Coastal’s Lake Chabot 30k to get more experience at the greater-than-half distance.  And because the weekend was free except for a backlog of housework.  And because there’s no wind right now.  And because I just wanted to run another race in what was looking like a five week gap.   And because I like running Chabot.  And it turned into a really good personal race in the end. 

I hadn’t trained specifically for this race, but wanted the distance experience.  My last two 30k’s were “just finish the damn thing” races, since I was waiting out a foot strain and nursing it during those races.  Which meant walking long stretches just to back off the running impact.  That less-than-stellar history, combined with a (relatively) not difficult course, had me expecting a 30k personal best.   

The drive in was gorgeous.  I took the Pinehurst and Redwood Roads down, since I had extra time, watching the sunrise over the hills.  It was chilly at the lake upon arriving, a backup reservoir that’s been around since the mid 1800’s.  The course was a 13 mile loop and a 5 mile out and back with a loop at the end.  I’ve trained here a couple times and ran to here from home once, so I was looking forward to the course.

I started deliberately slow, feeling a little sore from starting back on strength training the week before week, and my last two 30k’s still haunt me a bit.  :-)  I backed off on them for a while to get endurance at the half distance back up, and just recently moved back up past 13 miles.  At the start, we looped through the picnic area and headed out on the paved lakeside trail.  It’s a nice warmup with small hills that are just enough to get me out of the we-just-started-and-i'm-not-quite-awake fog.  Then there was a short hill on a small loop a couple mile sin; I walked part of it to avoid muscle cramping, as well as having better long term speed when power walking up longer hills.  I powered through the downhill--yay for my recent focused hill training.  

We then crossed the rather bouncy bridge, always fun, and then continued along the lakeshore to the first aid station near the top of the next hill.  Having these at hill tops makes for a great psychological break.  The next part of the course was rolling hills, which followed some switchbacks before turning north and up a valley.  This stretch was my favorite part of the course, as it was more secluded, with trees overhead.  The course turned around and went uphill to another aid station.  

Heading out from here, we ran along an exposed ridge with a number of mountain bikers and hikers.  The day had warmed, and I was sweating hard, but ran well through the hills along this ridge.  This eventually dropped onto a path along the west shore of the lake, again with small rolling hills.  My uphill speed here dropped quite a bit, and I had people passing me uphill who I would then fly past downhill.  And again.  And again.  I came into the end of the first loop, the half marathon point, feeling strong, grabbed a couple snacks at the aid station, and headed back out for the second loop.

The second loop was 5 miles, repeating the first portion of the half course.  My legs were notably more tired this time along this part of the course, and I walked one more uphill stretch.  On the way back along this loop, the 50k leader was on his way out for his last loop, as well as 50k runners starting their second loop.  I ran the last mile or so hard, wearing myself down to the finish, which I’m happy I was able to do at this distance.  I crossed the finish line and bent over breathing hard for a bit.  After resting with a beer and some snacks, I felt my legs getting stiff, despite stretching, a sign that I pushed myself well.  The post race snacks were great, with the grill serving up sausage and burgers being perfect.  Everyone also received a finisher’s medal here, which was a pleasant surprise.  

Overall I really liked this race.  Unsurprisingly, I did get a new personal best for a 30k at 3:12, and placed 19 out of 33.  The irony is that, with the (far) easier course, this also beats my 25k time from last month.  And being close to home, I think it’s one to repeat.

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