Saturday, March 26, 2016

Knickerbocker Trail Half Marathon (3/26/16)

Knickerbocker Half
March 26, 2016

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I had originally signed up to run the Knickerbocker 35k.  However, I changed some things in my race calendar and since the next two weekends will be big mileage weekends, I decided to drop down to the Knickerbocker half instead.  I did run the Knickerbocker 35k course (and a little extra) on my own as my long training run this past Monday so I didn't completely miss out on the "fun" of the 35k. ;-)

After dropping down to the half, I almost wasn't sure if I would race today or not.  On Tuesday night, my baby came down with the stomach flu.  And then on Thursday evening, I came down with it.  On Friday, I was miserably sick all day and even went to bed feeling horrible.  

But in the morning, I felt a lot better and at least well enough to race.  I also thought getting outside onto the trails with some fresh air and sunshine would make me feel better too.  And, what a beautiful day it was out today!  

Pre-race with Heather & Jackie
The race ran from the Auburn Overlook down to No Hands Bridge, mostly downhill for about 4 miles.  I enjoyed running the first few miles with many friends (Scott, Jackie, Heather, and Johanna).  Had some amusing conversations with some and made it to No Hands Bridge in good time.

After No Hands, we headed up K2 (aka Training Hill).  I powered my way up K2 and passed many runners on my way up.  Climbing K2 is one of my strengths so I used it to my advantage.  A lot of people went flying down from the Overlook past me down to No Hands.  I felt like this climb was my opportunity to catch back up to some folks.  I ended up getting a PR on my K2 climb today (17:18).  

After the top of K2, we run down the Western States Trail back to No Hands bridge.  It's about 3 miles of downhill.  I'm normally slow on the downhills.  In races, I usually feel like I pass a few folks on the uphill and three times as many go flying past me on the downhills.  But, I've been working on bettering my downhill running, trying to be quick on my feet (as my coach says). And this section, I'm familiar with so I pushed it today and only let two guys pass me.  There was a third guy hot on my heels but I kept pushing my way down and made it to No Hands without him passing me.   

From No Hands, you climb back to the Overlook on some technical trails that descend back down to the river (literally next to it) and then make a steep climb back up to the finish.  I pushed my way up the first part pretty good, even passing a couple folks.  Around mile 10-11, there is a single track section. I am not sure exactly what happened but maybe I took a curve too fast or slipped on something but next thing I know I'm flying off the side of the trail, basically down a cliff.  I think I somersault over and slide down a bit.  I land/slide about 6-8 feet down the side of the trail.  I think I flipped over because I bumped my head, my shoulders and elbow are a little scraped up but my legs have no scrapes/bruises/etc on them.  My left palm had a big cut up the middle and aches badly.

Right before falling, I had passed a few hikers and when I fell, I had screamed pretty loudly.  One girl came running up to help me.  I had to climb my way back up to get back onto the trail.  After walking a bit to shake it off, I continued on running/hiking my way back to the finish.  I used my buff to wrap my bloody hand.  I pushed on.  A few runners had passed me right after my fall but I caught back up to them and passed them.  When we hit the steep climbs, I power hiked with a vengeance.  I think the only person that passed me from then on was the super fast winner of the 35k race.  

I finished in 2:36:15.  I'm pretty happy with that finish time as I felt strong out there.  I did good on both the uphills and downhills (other than my stupid fall).  I ran almost an hour faster than I did last year (though last year I was 30 weeks pregnant).

finish last year and finish this year (photo credit Hassan Aboukadijeh)

Three Things That Went Well:
1.  My descending went really well today.  I think my descent down from K2 down the Western States trail was my fastest this year.  I've really been thinking about being quick on my feet when I go down.  

2.  Power hiking on the uphills went well. It helped I had done the big climbs earlier in the week too.  I'm really happy I got a PR on my K2 climb!  
3.  Getting back into the race after my fall.  Even though my fall shook me up a bit, I took a moment to collect myself and then got back into the race.  I didn't let it throw me off my game or set me back.  I was glad I was able to catch back up to the three guys who had passed me right after I had fallen.  I think the fall maybe even fueled me to push a little harder the last couple miles.  

Three Things That Went Not-So-Well:
1.  Falling (and flipping over) off the trail.  Still not quite sure how it happened but need to pay attention better I guess, especially on those narrow, technical sections. 

2.  Getting my soft water bottles out of my pack.  I'm still getting used to having the soft water bottles but today, I don't know what it was but I just was struggling trying to pull the bottle out of my pack.  I even wasted a few extra seconds at the aid station just struggling to pull the bottle out for the guy to refill.  I ended up holding the bottle in my hand for a bit to avoid struggling getting it in and out of my pack.  I think I need to practice more or try different bottles.  

3.  Too short of socks.  I wore different socks today than I have been and they're a little shorter than my usual socks.  That was not good as they sank too low and my shoe and back of my heel got rubbed a bit.  Didn't cause a major problem today but in a long race, that would have definitely become a problem.   

Three Things I Learned:
1.  Right before going into the aid station, pull out my water bottle so it'll be ready to refilled.  I got there and the guy was ready to refill my water bottle but I had to struggle for a moment to get the bottle out of my pack.  

2.  Try to be friendly to everyone you see on the trails as it's nice to be nice but also, you never know when you might need someone's help.  When I passed the three hiker women, I said thanks as they moved over for me.  Moments later, I'm screaming as I'm flying off the trail.  And one of the hikers ran up to try to help me back up onto the trail.  Sometimes I get into my own zone and maybe not as friendly as I could be.  Fortunately, I was friendly to these women as I had passed them and glad for that as one came to help me.  

3.  If you're not feeling well, rest is best.  I started feeling awful on Thursday and called out sick on Friday.  I'm glad for that.  I ended up napping a lot of the day, trying to rest and recover.  Glad I rested as by Saturday, I felt better.  I think if I had worked or tried to do too much, it would have made it worse.  (I'm also extra grateful to an amazing husband who's been taking care of sick baby and sick wife all week and then let's the wife go run a race while he takes care of baby for the morning.)   

Three Tidbits about the Knickerbocker Racer and/or Inside Trail
1.  The race is a good challenging race with some tough climbs for all the race distances!  

2.  Race organization is fantastic.  Course is marked very well including signs and markers to tell you when you might be going on the wrong way.  And, great volunteers!  Thanks to all the volunteers today!  

3.  Awesome medical tent at the finish.  The medical "team" helped clean and bandage up my hand after I finished.  They were great!

another day, another race, and another medal for the wee one to play with

Next up, American River 50. . . .

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