Capt’n Karl’s 60k Night-time Trail Race at Pedernales Falls
Another whirlwind weekend of family, friends, travel, and trails. I arrived in Austin late Friday night, crashed hard, and was up for a Saturday afternoon of baking under the Texas sun on a pontoon boat on Lake Travis with Alison, the kids, and some sorely missed Texas friends. Much of the day was spent driving, to the lake, from the lake, and then, around 5pm, out to Pedernales Falls for the first in the 2013 Capt’n Karls Night-Time Trail Running Series. The series offers 10k, 30k, and 60k distances at each of 4 central Texas trail systems.
Without much of a plan and really just looking to get in a long run when I had the chance, I opted for the 60k race, both for the distance and the chance to run with Austin friend/training parter/badass Andres Capra. I went light shoes, skimpy shorts, one hand bottle, and headlamp – about as minimalist as was responsible given an almost 40-mile run in the woods at night in the heat on trails I’d never seen.
I told myself from the start that I’d go easy most of the race and push harder with 10-15 miles left if I was feeling good. But, with the rare chance to run with Andres, I went out harder than I should have and was still falling back from his pace for at least the first 5-6 miles. No red-lining but it was definitely more effort than I thought was prudent given another 6 hours of running ahead. Thing is, I didn’t feel the need to back off and, much to my own surprise, just kept running. I ran the hills, which seemed short and shallow compared to the mountain training of the last year. That’s something new to me – running uphill without getting winded – and the further I ran the better I felt.
I made a ridiculous mistake at the halfway point (it was a two-loop course), where I doubled back from the aid station the wrong direction. It was a bit stressful, something of a morale buster, but I only lost about 10 minutes and was physically feeling just fine. I caught back up with a couple of guys I had previously been ahead of at halfway, including Andres, and just kept cruising. From about mile 21 until the end I think I only passed one more person; other than that guy I was solo out there for the final 16 miles. Understandably, late into a longish race, well after midnight when you’ve been running alone for some hours, things get tough. Not the case this time. I was proud to finish strong, not letting myself hike, all the way to the end.
My finishing time of 6:52:14 was decent, with a 13th place overall of 105 starters (oddly only 64% of the starters finished the race). But, considering this was my 9th long day of running – at least 3 hours - in the last 16, I’m really happy I felt so strong. My mid-race error cost me a couple finishing places, which sorta sucks, but this is Leadville training and it shows me that I’m on track. After 38 miles my legs felt fine and, more importantly, I was almost wishing the race was a little longer. Some emaciated photos of me (and some random chick?) from the race.
It’s now 5 days post race, with the Leadville Marathon coming up fast this weekend. Though 12 miles shorter and likely with cool weather and non-technical trail, there will be some challenges:
I’ll be heading out to Leadville this weekend with Mike Oliva, who has a reasonably good shot at winning the race. This sort of race is just another training day out for Mike O, whose talent and work ethic are rivaled only by his kindness. If I finish within 75 minutes of him, it’ll be a good day for me. Starting late July Mike O. will be doing a 10-day run along the Colorado Trail, a 280-mile stretch through the rugged high mountains in western Colorado. If all goes to plan, I’ll be joining him for a couple of days before resting up for the Leadville 100. Mike Oliva is running that one, too, and if all goes well for both of us he’ll be only 8-10 hours ahead of me at the finish. :)