Sunday, February 13, 2011

Race Report: 2011 RunTotoRun 10 miler

The variety and unique challenges of trail running has appealed to me for quite some time. When I stumbled across the Kansas City Trail Nerds site I knew I was going to have to attempt one of their runs. I chose the 2011 RunTotoRun.

Because I have only done one other trail run and I was not familiar with the course, I had decided ahead of time that I was going to just go out and have fun with this trail run. No pressure to run fast or compete, besides, I am at the beginning of my Fargo Marathon training plan, I didn't need to take any chances on getting hurt. In fact, I really did not do much of any trail running preparation before this race other than to buy some new bad ass trail running shoes.

Fast forward to race day! It was 24F when we arrived at Wyandotte Park for the race, not quite shorts weather yet but it was going to be by the starting time. Because the trail was snow and ice covered, at the registration area they were offering runners an opportunity to "screw their shoes" for added traction. Basically they put several 1/4" sheet metal screws into the bottom of your shoes for added traction on the icy surfaces. I really hesitated at first because I didn't want to ruin my new shoes, but I gave it a shot and was very glad that I did so, it was slick out there!

At 8 am we watched the real bad ass runners, the 50K and 20 milers, get their start. Seeing them run up the first hill was exciting and also a little unnerving as they disappeared into the woods.
With PRS FIT teammate Ryan

Finally, at 9am, it was our turn! The ground was covered in about 6 inches of snow throughout the park which made for a few extra challenges because it was hiding many of the rocks and fallen trees all throughout the trail. Ryan, a fellow PRS FIT teammate and I started together towards the front of the pack. I don't like to start too close to the middle or at the back because there are too many people to pass, but I rarely start at the front because I don't want to get in the way of the faster runners and there are always what I call "rabbits" that start out way too fast and then fade after a couple of miles. It's always fun and motivating to pass them throughout the race.

After the first quarter mile or so it was mostly single track trails. It was very difficult to pass anyone and when you did have room you were high stepping through the snow which was a little hairy because you didn't know what kind of branches or rocks might be under there. Within the first mile I lost my balance and took a header into the snow. I did a little bit of a tuck and roll, luckily I was able to pop right up and keep going without anyone passing me.

My early race strategy was just to take it easy and have fun but I found myself behind some slower runners that were pretty easy pickings, so I changed it up a bit. I started passing people, and then, when I caught up to the next runner I tucked in behind them for a bit to recover while also looking for a good place to pass again. After about 6 miles or so things thinned out considerably and I was finding fewer and fewer runners to pass. But passing people was only one part of the challenge. This course was amazing! We were running through the woods making left and right turns all over the place so that you never knew which way you were going. You had to constantly pay attention to where you were stepping and what was in front of you because there were icy, slippery rocks, trees and tree limbs that you had to jump over, duck under, or maneuver around throughout the entire course. In addition to these hazards, it was pretty much all up and down hills, there was even one section where they had tied a rope to a tree if you needed help to pull yourself up.
My miles were ticking off at what I thought was a pretty slow pace. My slowest mile throughout was 10:47 and my quickest was about 9 minutes. It was all I could do to get up the hills quickly and efficiently without getting my heart rate up too high and then speed through the downhill sections without losing control and crashing. I found it interesting that by the time you reached the top of the hill your legs were starting to burn and fatigue but you really couldn't relax because you headed right back down a hill and had to keep it under control. My heart rate was actually highest while walking up a couple of the hills during the last mile, after all of the previous hills, you really earned your keep in that last mile.
This is an old picture one of the hills we climbed.
This year it was covered in snow!
I finally blazed across the finish line with a time of 1:36:41, 12th place overall and the 11th male to finish! It was a great time, I am pretty sure that I had a smile on my face for at least the first 5 miles.
Someday I will have the guts to do a longer trail run, for now I loved the variety of challenges that this race presented. I give it a huge thumbs up. It's a great course for either the competitive or the casual trail runner. I would not want to do my first 50K on this course but the 10 mile distance was a perfect trial for the newbie like me!

Not really sure why my mouth is open in this picture.

Team PRS FIT !

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