Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Report: YUT-C 25k

Note: This report is a copy-and-paste version of a more generic account for another audience. Kudos to all the local NE Ohioans and Vertical Runners who ran. ~Lloyd

Last weekend I raced the Youngstown Ultra Trail - Classic (YUT-C) 25k race. The 4th annual 50k, hosted by the NEO Trail Club, added a new 25k version this year.

Having run the 50k race two years ago I was familiar with the beauty and rockiness of the trails of the urban Mill Creek Park. The course is multi-loop around the lakes of MCP with about 80% trails and 20% paved surface.

I've been running lots of roads lately and quality speed workouts for a fall marathon, but have made sure to get in one weekly trail run over the summer. My mileage is high enough where I was confident I could run a "marathon pace" effort for 2+ hours, albeit on some slightly rugged trail. One of my friends was aiming for a 50k finish in 4:20-4:30 range, so I figured I could try to keep up with him and the front pack of 50k runners. I recognized a couple names entered in the 50k that held sub-4:20 credentials in the trail 50k. Based on my knowledge of this trail I made a tentative goal of 2 hours 10 minutes.

Sporting a new pair of Montrail Wildwoods (with about 50 miles on them), a short 1 mile warm-up, and instructions from the RD, we were off. For the first time ever, unlike any other ultra race for me, I was in the front pack. Normally in races like this I am trying to settle into an easy ultra pace. Not on this day.

I led a loose pack of 4 runners through the first 20 minutes, including a past winner of Mohican 100 who finished Badwater earlier this year. My best trail 50k is 4:3x, so racing trails at the front was a new experience to me and frankly, very exciting and fun.

YUT-C doesn't tout a lot of elevation change, but there are a few climbs and decents. The eventual 50k winner took the lead when I walked the first steep up on the climb over the log. I didn't recognize him, but when he asked me "are there mile markers on this course?" I admit to thinking he was a newby and would come back to the field later on.

The course is figure-eight shaped with one main aid station (Covered Bridge) that I passed through 3 times (50k runners 5 times.) Loops spaced evenly about 4 miles apart, I arrive to the covered bridge for the first time in 33 minutes. Carrying a 10 oz handheld bottle, I had been sipping throughout and only needed to fill the bottle and return to running. On this day I took in nothing but water on this mild mid-60s day on shaded trails.

The second section is a flatter loop that included a mile of road surface. This section we would repeat again so I knew that some tempo running, perhaps closer to half marathon pace, was going to happen. I found that the Wildwoods feel good on roads, too.

I caught up to the leader around 45 minutes into race and we started chatting. I found out the guy was running a legitimate pace as he was a past winner of the Groundhog 50k in 3:57. He also mentioned he drove all night from eastern PA to get to the race only minutes before the start.

We finished the second and third loops in about 32 minutes each, leaving only about 3.75 miles to the finish. Since fast dude did not carry a water bottle and I did, I was in-and-out of the aid stations faster and took the lead for the final stretch to my finish. With about a mile to go, the 50k leader catches me and pulls me along to the finish.

Somewhat cheesily, I sprint ahead with about 1/4 mile to go in order to finish ahead in 2 hours 4 minutes. Fast 50k guy was only 10 seconds behind, maintining the pace for the entire 50k, and smashed the course record in 4 hours 10 minutes.

I ended up finishing first in the 25k. With about 60 runners in the 50k and 20 runners entered in the 25k, no doubt the best runners were in the 50k. I figure that the top 4 in the 50k would have beaten me over the shorter course. But on this day it was fun to enjoy the view from the front of the pack.

I enjoyed the rest of the day spectating at the finish line. Youngstown's Mill Creek Park is a hidden little gem that is easy to miss from the freeway. NEO Trail Club does a great job providing a quality race with the easy-going feel of a fat ass event.

Race photos available over here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Check in

It's been a month since a post. I am here.

There's running to write about. I've run a couple races and added a couple to the calendar. Check the sidebar.

Marathon is 7.5 weeks away. Mileage is there, averaging 50+ for the last 12 weeks. A weekly speed workout in each of the last 4 weeks.

YUT-C is on September 20th. They've added a 25k to go with the 50k trail run. NEO Trail club does a great job organizing.

I look forward to the fall running season. Witnessing a peak performance by a fellow runner is sometimes as satisfying as achieving my own.

I am here.