Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 27th, 2011: Lost Lake Race Recap

Last race of the year for me in Alaska was this year's Lost Lake Race.  The field set to toe the line was stellar:
  • Brent Knight  :  National Class Nordic Skier and Runner Up in 2011 Mt Marathon and Bird Ridge 
  • Matias Saari : 2011 Mat Peak Champion, Yukon River Marathon Champion, Moose's Tooth Marathon Champion, 3rd Place in Crow Pass, perennial Equinox Champion 
  • Brandon Newbould : 2010 New England Marathon Champion, 2:25 marathoner
  • Eric Strabel: 2011 Mt Marathon Champion, Crow Pass Runnerup
The anticipation of a great race against the field got me really excited, the one glaring omission being Mark Iverson, last year's runner up.   In last year's race, like most years on this course, I took the lead early and set a hard pace, running from far out front with the idea it would be hard for my competitors to catch me if they couldn't feel or see me.

Conditions from a climate standpoint were excellent:  Temperatures in the high 40s/low 50s and light rain.  From a footing standpoint, they were sub-par.  I'll take good climate any day, as it's really a bear to run in hot temperatures, extreme low temperatures, high humidity, or nasty wind.

The Climb

     For the most part, the first 5 1/2 miles 'roll up'.  There are 3-4 tough climbs that reduce many to a walk, but there are also flat or rolling downs that allow a fast runner to rally.   This part of the course marks the greatest extremes in pace.
     From the gun, I took off fast and hard, but what I deemed to be comfortable.   I felt someone off my shoulder for the first 15 minutes, thinking it was Brent (although it turned out to be Brandon).  This year, I told myself to be patient on the uphills, allowing myself to 'recover up', despite the increase in difficulty.   I tried to find that sweet spot of lactate flood, avoiding crossing that red line, no matter how slow I had to run uphill.    Then, at the crest of each hill, I was very deliberate in accelerating back to race 'tempo'... in other words, finding that spot just off the red line.

The Plateau

     The key word for this section of the course is undulation.   Marked by little flat running, the downhills are brief as are the climbs.   It's very easier to find rhythm on this section of the course.
     I felt great.Cresting through the trees to beyond treeline, approximately 5.5 miles into the race, real running begins.  No longer did I have to meter my effort on the uphills.   I felt like I ran this section very well.   Downhills were very fast, yet controlled.  Uphills were speed bumps that did little to deviate me from my rhythm.   Crossing the bridge at the river (52:53), I was totally in control and felt like I was picking up speed. Making my way up the final climb to the high point, I knew I was running well, but at the same time also knew I had reserve left in the event I'd have to fend off a charge from any one of the other guys who undoubtedly had me in their line of sight.

The Descent

     The last five miles of Lost Lake are fun to run because there really are no more climbs.   It's 90% downhill and 10% flat that feels like downhill.  If anything, the hardest part of the descent is staying on course, whether it's navigating a ridiculous 150 degree turn or even worse passing walkers or hikers just past one of these speed killing curves.
     Dropping off the high point (just before 10 miles), the course footing took a turn for the serious worse.   At some point around 9 miles on the ascent is where I generally begin to pass walkers in mass.   Off the top as the course begins to descend, this continues, and what made it particularly nettlesome this year was the combination of passing walkers AND poor footing.  It was REALLY slippery up top!   It was actually easier to run on the grass than the trail in a few spots.  Half a mile into the decent, I was fed up and angry.   The course at this point really didn't lend itself to my shoe of choice:  the Adidas Supernova Light:  A marathon racing flat, this shoe has seen me through plenty of fast miles, and I've taken to racing Lost Lake in a road flat, namely because i appreciate the cushion/flexibility combo and also the fact that when it's all said and done, my feet do not hurt (unlike 2010 when I ran in the Adidas Swoop IIs).   Also, there were numerous walkers that did not yield to me barreling down the trail.    I checked myself out mentally, and told myself:   "Screw it.   If someone wants to be a maniac and faster than me on this stuff, they can have it this year:  I've got too much at stake with Chicago only 6 weeks around the corner.  It's still a good marathon workout."   At this point, from 11 miles to 13 miles, I really felt like I lost an edge that was previously there.   From 13 miles for the next 1.75 miles or so to the trail head I ran hard, and gradually increased my resolve to win the race.   I also felt like like I was running 1:38 effort (over a minute slower than my record time of 1:36:50 from the year before.  I was shocked to pop off the trail onto the road at the trail head and see a time of 1:33.    With somewhere close to half a mile to go, I knew I could better my record!!   Talk about kicking into high gear.   I ended up running the last .3 miles in sub 4:20 pace and crossed the line in a new record of 1:35:17.

   The best part is not only did I run 93 seconds faster than the year before, on a lousy day for footing, but that I felt so good and had so much left at the end.

   I'm really excited for Chicago.

Mile Splits for 2011 Lost Lake Race 
(wheeled the day before by Matias!)
Mile 1 - 6:19
Mile 2 - 6:48
Mile 3 - 6:37
Mile 4 - 7:39
Mile 5 - 8:55
Mile 6 - 7:02
Mile 7 - 5:54
Mile 8 - 6:21
Mile 9 - 6:10
Mile 10 - 5:34
Mile 11 - 5:23
Mile 12 - 5:34
Mile 13 - 5:11
Mile 14 - 5:11
Mile 15 - 5:13
Last .3 - 1:18

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