Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hyner Trail Challenge 2013

According to Proverbs, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." This was my third year of running Hyner and it is one of my favorites, but today I would learn the lesson mentioned above. In spite of that, it was a good day. I like the 25K distance and the course features one of the best views around. The climbs are tough and the descents are technical: what could be better?
The 50K runners at the start

The day was cool, just over 40 degrees, and overcast. It was actually pretty good running weather, although fairly windy when exposed on the climbs and we got a little bit of sleet/snow during the day. The 50K runners started at 8am and then the 25K runners got going at 9am. There are about 1000 runners in the 25K, which is a large amount for a trail run. The race is on road for a little more than a mile at the start so there is time to get spread out. I lined up at the front before the start and chatted with the young bucks around me. Jacob Loverich, last year's winner, was back and I knew no one would touch him if he ran half-decently. I didn't see the guys who were second and third last year and that made me the next fastest returning runner. The three guys that beat me at Mile Run (Brock Waughen, Eric Marshall, and Adam Russell) were all there, however, and I knew they were all running really well and I would have a hard time keeping up with them, especially on the first climb.

Jacob Loverich, eventual winner, is the first 25K runner
to get to the top of Humble Hill.
In reverse order of finish, Eric Marshall, Brock Waughen
and Adam Russell are the next ones to the top.
We ripped off a 6:15 first mile and Jacob was already 50 meters ahead of everyone else. Then we hit the singletrack (Cliffhanger Trail) and we spread out some more. Brock, Eric and Adam were together in a chase group and I and a few other guys were back a little further. Finally the climbing began and the mud and 100 50K runners who had already chewed up the ground made it tough to find good footing in spots. I wasn't sure how my legs would react to running Boston on Monday but I was going to go for it until they wouldn't go anymore.

That first climb is one of the toughest around but the views on the way, and especially at the top, almost make it worthwhile. I took a Gu at the top and some water and then hit the downhill. That is the last that I would see of any other 25K runners that day until finishing. There was a runner who was right behind me at the top of the climb but as soon as we started the downhill I lost him. The first downhill isn't really technical but it is steep in a few spots so it is helpful to have run it multiple times before. My quads were taking a pounding but I was just hoping they would last 16.5 miles.

I got to the bottom and started up the second climb. I was passing a few 50K hikers at this point. One lady said, as I ran past, "Go get those young'uns!" I guess I really do look/am old. Oh well. I felt pretty good today on the climb, in fact better than last year. I got to the top and started the long rocky descent of Post Draft.

I really like this descent. It is mostly a side-hill trail and there are lots of rocks and roots but it isn't too steep. I can really fly down it. I started to think about this as I was descending and congratulating myself for being as fast as anyone on this descent. Call it hubris, arrogance, or a haughty spirit (see first paragraph), but that quickly bit me in the butt. My trailing toe caught a rock or root or something and the next thing I knew I was flying horizontally and trying to break my fall. My left hand hit first and then both knees and then I rolled. It is a weird feeling and it happens so quickly that your reactions are just pure instinct. I ended up face-down on the trail, hanging off the edge, and quickly taking stock of my body. I got up and my hand was skinned and bloody and both knees were bleeding pretty well, but not gushing. Everything else seemed to be okay so I started running again, cursing my arrogance/laziness. I felt okay so I sped back up and made sure I was picking up that back foot.
Fifth to the top, I had to hold onto my hat
to keep it from blowing off.

Meira Minard, winner of the women's 25K.
By the time I reached the bottom, I had gotten over the post-fall adrenaline and gathered myself for the final climb. I actually felt pretty good and I think I got up this faster than last year. I reached the top and started my least favorite part of the course, a relatively flat mile or so at the top of the mountain. Usually my legs are so hammered that this is a struggle, but this year I actually made pretty good time and felt fairly strong yet. Who knows why? I got to the last descent and ran it hard. I was very careful to pick up that trailing foot again and finally I reached the road successfully and ran hard for the last mile to the finish. I finished in 2:30:31, two minutes faster than last year, which surprised me.

I stayed for awhile to watch friends come in and enjoyed some of the best post-race food anywhere. I wasn't sure what to do with my "hamburger" knees but I tried to wash them off as best I could and just let them be until I got back home. It was another fun day on the trails. Jacob Loverich did win the men's race again in 2:19 and Meira Minard won the women's race again in 2:44.

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