Sunday, November 8, 2009

2009 Xterra Paris Mountain Trails 11K

Results (based on Guntime):
1:25:05 (12:28 min per mile average)
Overall 95/131

This race was a last minute decision and I don't regret it whatsoever. This was a fun trail run on a wonderful day.

The day started out around 6:30AM. I got up and had some pita bread for breakfast and water. No granola bars this time, because of the GI disaster of last race. Stuck the foot out of the door and made my clothing choice: capris, a thin long sleeve, thin headband, gloves, SmartWool socks and my trail running shoes. Grabbed a couple of other things and then we were out the door. Terry didn't do the race, but he came along for cheering and photo taking purposes! ;-)

We got to Paris Mtn State Park at around 7:30AM. I picked up my number (lucky 124) and one of those gym bags. No t-shirts, but a pair of socks if you finish. By now, I have tons of race t-shirts, but I have to say, that I am always a little disappointed when they don't have one. Well, I'll get over that! ;-) On the way to the starting line we ran into Chris, our Blue Ridge Relay team captain and on the starting line we also found Alex and Dave also team members from the relay. With Kerrie being the sweeper at the race and Terry the journalist (and later involuntarily one of the volunteers! ;-), we had half of the relay team assembled... Only four made it into this pic though.

By the time we finished our little chit chat, it was almost time to rock'n'roll. I shed my additional layers and off we went. Since I was planning on taking this one pretty slow anyways, there was really no need to warm up. You ask why taking it slow? Well, it's a trail race, you have to be super cautious where you place your foot basically with every step you take and besides, I know this terrain, not the exact course but partially... I knew what was in store for us... No need to blow yourself up in the first two miles and then be exhausted by the time you hit the steep section of the Sulphur Springs trail. According to the Garmin we did a total of around 2,000 feet up and down in these 11K and here is the elevation profile.

The race started out on the road and then we turned onto Mountain Creek Trail. I stayed with Chris for the first mile or so and we spend the time talking a little. After a while, I started to pass people when possible... And it's not always possible since the trails are sometimes so narrow, but on the other hand, people are just so much nicer and talking to each other because the space is so limited at times. On the other hand, being stuck behind people every now and then helped me not to go out too fast. By the time we hit the steepest portion of the trail, we were all hiking instead of running. Time to take a couple of sips out of the water bottle, get rid of the gloves (stuffed them into my pants) and get a little breather. On top of Sulphur Springs, we made a left turn towards Firetower Trail and from there to Kanuga. Kanuga is tons of fun! Rolling downhill and beautiful views of the lake. I almost fell twice in this area and still don't know, how I was able to stay upright. From Kanuga we turned onto Brissy Ridge Trail and there I started hiking again every once in a while, but also was able to pass some more people in this section. At the end of Brissy Ridge Trail we crossed the parking lot at the top to pick up the Sulphur Springs Trail again. Terry was waiting on the parking lot to snap some pictures of us coming by. But he also directed the other participants to the trail. The signs they used to mark the course were fairly small and he had to tell several people where to go, so they wouldn't go down the hill on the road.

This is the picture from the top of the mountain, halfway through the race. I look exhausted but I actually felt pretty good.. If you look hard enough, you can see my double thumbs up sign! ;-) And the bumps on my knees are the gloves that slid down to my knees!

On that side, Sulphur Springs starts out with a short steep uphill and then a very steep down hill for the next half mile. They did the MTB Downhill Race a couple of weeks ago on this portion of the trail. Here, I tripped two more times and I am still surprised that I didn't fall flat on my face. When the trail finally flattened out, it felt great... The pounding was over. From then on, it was all rolling down hills to the finish line. I crossed the finish line, got my pair of socks (badge of honor) that turn out to be pretty nice and have the race name and the word "finisher" on them! ;-)

Dave and Alex were already done and had their first couple of pancakes. Yes, they had pancakes at the finish... Isn't that nice? I first downed a bottle of water and then got some pancakes myself. We waited until Chris came in, had a little more chit-chat and took off.

This was a nice race! A lot of fun! This is already the first race out of the 2010 Xterra series and I think there is a good chance, that I will do the other two races (15K and 8K) as well.

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