Official time: 20:45. 14th overall. 8th in Age Group. Results here.
Another winter is upon us and with it comes the annual South County 4th Season Trail Series. This has become of fixture of running here in South County, with races that start at the 5k distance before reaching 1/2 marathon length by the end. In addition to plenty of individual rivalries, the team competition would hopefully make a big return. TNT easily took the honors in 2013 and WTAC returned the favor in 2014. What would 2015 bring?
I went into this race pretty ambivalent. My janky knee had limited my running considerably and recent back pain had added my woes. The trails were clear and the temp was in the upper 30s so I knew that besting last year's time in the snow and frigid temps would be no problem. But would I better my 21:23 from 2012?
I did a brief solo warm-up on the last section of the course in reverse. Knee felt a little twitchy but otherwise fine. Made my way back to the start and everyone lined up (over 170 runners this year - a great turnout!) As usual this race starts with a mad exodus towards the singletrack. We're all running way too fast, afraid of finding ourselves behind a train of runners in the woods. I skirted past a kid just after entering the trail and then my position was set for a bit. I found myself behind Jeff the Gazelle who was behind David Principe. There were people close behind but once we crossed the bridges and ventured into the muddy section those folks fell back.
This muddy portion had plenty of opportunities for spills and the jumping on the slippery rocks was dicey. As we left the mud, Principe and Jeff passed a guy in blue and I found myself behind him for a while. P & J pulled away from us and as we cut across the powerlines I pushed past the blue guy too. I was breathing hard at this point and wondering when I was going to run out of steam but there was a good gap between us and those behind so I felt pretty good about holding off anyone else.
On the climb up to the cliffs, P & J passed a dude in grey and I caught up to him near the top. After a few turns he got twisted up and I took the opportunity to pass. Jeff was long gone but I was hoping that I could hold off grey dude and blue guy. Now came the awful switchback section - it's hard to run fast here and the turns come fast and furious. I saw that grey dude was right behind me and now there was an orange guy gaining on us.
After running alongside the parking lot, we ventured up into the woods for one last trail section. Orange guy passed me here - it was Chris Fox who's something of an adversary of mine. He passed me with a 1/2 mile to go at Li'l Rhody a few years back. It seems to be his M.O. Fox put distance on me quickly and as we hit the field he was already far ahead. As I made the last turn past the ballfield I looked back and saw I had a decent lead over grey dude. I crossed the finish line pretty exhausted from the whole thing.
Overall I'm very pleased with this race. It's a tough one and you have to work really hard on the twisty trails to maintain your pace and position. The knee wasn't an issue and I didn't feel like I lost as much speed as I did last month at the Mew's. I suppose you could say that with my recent break from running I did a super-taper for this race. I didn't stick around as I had to get back to preparations for our winter solstice party but I learned afterwards that WTAC picked up the win. A good way to start the series!