Monday, September 7, 2009
Sizzler 10+ Mile Relay
Sizzler is another short "trail race" in Auburn that up until about a week ago I had no intention of doing. In reality, about 1/2 of the race is on roads above the canyon rim (mostly Lincoln Way, one of the busier roads in town, this course provided me with the distinct pleasure of running through two very crowded intersections). Beside the paved element, the main source of my hesitation was that I am racing another relay on this upcoming Saturday and was originally thinking of only doing the full 10.4 or whatever distance for the Sizzler. Austin had won that distance last year and I wanted to see if I could match his time. When I was talking to him on Friday before the race, he asked me to do the relay with him. Now considering how uncomfortable I was racing a "scant" 10 miles on my last outing, I wasn't sure that a 5 mile race really appealed to me. Running as a team would be fun though and I am desirous of "defending my turf". What really sealed the deal for me was when Austin said we could get a free entry by helping to mark the course, then suggested that I run the first leg and just tack on a few miles from the hand-off point so the morning would be more worth my while. Sold.
Regarding the actual race, I made myself promise to run smart for once and peak at the end of my leg. Since I know the course well I made a plan to allow the lead group to take off and just keep an eye on them until we got to Robie Point. From there I would turn on the jets and get up front before we got on the trail, which I always anticipate as the area where my talents are best put to use. The start did go just about exactly as planned, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself at the larger then expected lead group that took off right at the get go. I did have some fear that I was going to regret my "easy" start, but more likely they were set for some major blow ups. An interesting thing about these short distance races is the timing aspect of them. 15 minutes in we were heading down the last stretch of Western States in reverse, and I had already begun my second half push.
By the time I was on the trail I was in second place, about a minute behind the leader, Jacob (the dude is a significantly faster runner than me). By the bottom of the switchbacks I found him in plain view probably 20-30 seconds ahead. I tried to really zoom down the railroad grade to No Hands, but he had the leg speed to pull ahead. I knew that Austin had the ability to seriously overpower the second runner of the leading team, so keeping the leader in my sight seemed like a pretty good position to be in.
I dug deep and ended up getting to the the switching point in just over 34 minutes (I think this leg was about 6 miles?) and a pretty close 40 seconds behind the first runner. I watched Austin burst away and felt very confidant that he would have the lead fairly quickly.
I then eased up Stagecoach as a cool down and caught a ride to the finish (but not in time to see Austin come through for a comfortable win!)