As posted to the Yahoo user group I moderate on Sunday 11/30:
Hey everyone, what's shaking on the trails?Not sure if anybody else was up in the driving light rain in VanCortlandt this morning. It wasn't exactly a good setting forsocializing, or identifying team singlets or whatever, as it wasdefinitely a day for hats and layers! I saw one Flyer I recognized, butno one from the forum. But it WAS a great day for a race with theadded challenge of competing against the elements!Anyway, I wavered till this morning as no one had taken up my call tocome join me, but saw it hadn't started raining yet at like 8 anddidn't look to be a deluge when the rains came according to WeatherChannel (race didn't start till 11:30). I'm really glad I did! A smallcrowd (by Road Runner standards) of maybe 150 or so braved the rain andwind (not nearly as bad as the Nor'easter we encountered up there forthe UEC in '06, which you'll remember Chris, but not too terribly faroff either!).My legs felt fresh after a little mini-taper the last few days and acouple solo speed workouts the last week since my two weeks off post-Masochist. I wanted a decent "tune-up" race to get ready for this skyhalf marathon in two weeks in Mexico (and remember what it feels liketo run sub-12 minute miles!). Plus, I had the benefit of having donethis particular race twice and knowing not to blow it out early in thefirst two 5K loops, especially on those dreaded back hills! VanCortlandt also used to be my training and racing "backyard" of sorts,and still feels like very familiar and even hollowed running ground, soit's always nice to go back.It's still a "Jeckyll and Hyde" race that beats your legs up right,with the fast flats on cinder and grass around the parade ground andthen the constant short, sharp ups and downs on the cinder and dirtpath taking up maybe half of each loop. There was a fair amount ofpuddle jumping and mud today, and I felt vindicated in my consideredlast-minute decision to go with my light, fast trail Inov-8s with theirzero cushion but superior traction in wet conditions (not to mentionGoretex!). Been training some in them the last few weeks as I thinkthey'll be my shoe of choice in Mexico.Anyway, the Inov-8's plus the Sealskinz socks (over Injinji toesockliners) and Marmot precip pants kept the tootsies warm and dry andhappy, and meant I didn't need to worry much at all about footing anddodging puddles. In fact, I felt like the conditions favored the trailrunner types today! I saw some slowing down and braking on thedownhills as I was entering "no brakes" mode!I was really happy to be able to charge down the downhills and shoot by(at least temporarily!) folks who, at least early on, had better speedon the flats than this aging ultra guy. Ah, the secret weapon of thetrailster when competing with the road runner (sssshhhhh)! The lastloop I kept the momentum coming off the downs going through the flatsand got some distance on some folks who'd I'd been jockeying with. Ifigured I would need it! I was happy that strategy on the last timethrough the back hills left enough cushion for them not to pass me backon the last half mile, which is pancake flat (with lots of puddles!).All-out charges for the finish that strain the hamstrings are notexactly something that 50 and 100 milers prepare you well for!Anyway, just checked my previous results from the nyrr site and I wasthree minutes off my time for Pete McArdle two years ago and only fouroff my 2001 time, back when I was just two months off my liftime 3:07marathon PR at Chicago. And just a second or two under 1:10 by my watchand the official clock, which was kind of an informal goal (not sure onplace, and it was too cold to linger, but I know that a woman whofinished not far behind me did win some kind of 30-something genderaward they were handing out right in the finish chute). Given the muchsloppier conditions today, the heavier clothes I had on (two layers ontop), and the slight course alterations due to the ongoingcoconstruction along the parade grounds (now longer or shorter? notsure).....I'll take it!Oh yes, and speaking of the Mexico race, some great news to report! Mypost to the ultra list (ultra digest) about doing "sky races" with aheart monitor got a reply from an American ultrarunner living in MexicoCity and playing basoon with the Mexico City symphony who's donesimilar races there. (She's a veteran of Hardrock and Wasatch 100's,and her father owns the course record for Wasatch, one of the toughest100s in the country in case you haven't heard of it.) Every time Ipost something there or reply, I seem to have interesting exchanges(like this week a German guy who's preparing for a Grand Canyon doublecrossing with whom I've been exchanging info for the late April R2R2RI've been trying to organize--hint, hint!).So, anyway, Esperanza and I will have company to travel to the "volcanorace" (on the 14th) with her and her husband..and I'll have trainingpartners to at least get in one "long training run in the mountains"surrounding Mexico City next weekend. Despite living there before andtraveling frequently, never quite knew where to go to run (safely,alone) outside the city to train trails. So I'm really psyched, and tohave fellow ultra travelers for all this in particular!Yesterday I did invest in a Polar HRM to track my effort for that raceat Paragon (with a handy altimer as well). That became necessary sinceI discovered with my Garmin 305 this week that you can't actually havea readable display of your HR while tracking time and distance withouthitting like a million buttons (unless you have Superman visiion to seethe tiniest of letters on that huge watchface--poor design for THATfeature! Apparently this is one--perhaps the only?--advantage of the405, which the salesperson showed me). That plus I lost the watch foran older Polar I used to train some with and like a lot.Now, if I could only locate that oxygen mask I've been shopping aroundfor! Those damn hypoxic tents I long for are still too expensive, andSanta has been amenable to bringing one this Xmas!