On Your Left!

‘The phrase ”ON YOUR LEFT” doesn’t ever really get shouted when you are racing on the roads. Usually you have anywhere from one full car lane, to four full car lanes of space to pass or get passed. Not on the trails. These one to two foot wide – barely shoulder width sections of trail can get pretty crowded when your trying to run in the 5-6 minute per mile range.With the Texas heat upon us, and my training schedule not conducive to run super fast on the roads, I took my legs into the woods to partake on an entirely new side of racing.

My long runs were in full swing and my workouts were dwindling in the ”endurance” phase that I am in right now (5:50-6:00/mile). I opted to race my first ever trail race at the Rogue 30k (18.6 miles) out at the beautiful Reveille Peak Ranch. I honestly had no game plan as to what I was going to do. Well I did have a small plan, and that was not to go out too hard. Not only was it going to be my longest run in 3-4 months, it was going to be a ”race” through a technical single track trail.

The gun went off as we headed out for the first loop of three 10k loops. My amigo and Cinderella Racing teammate Erik came up on me within the first half mile. The better part of the first loop was us chatting, and getting a feel for what we would be primarily racing on for the next 90 minutes. We came back through where we started and I asked him to take over for the next loop. At this time the 10k racers started coming straight at us since they were only doing one loop. Not only were we having to dodge 10k racers, but we started to come up on the back half of the 30k racers.

The next loop and a half consisted of us yelling ”ON YOUR LEFT, GREAT RACING, and KEEP GRINDING!” We came back through the second loop and I proceeded to pull away and just start rolling. The last part of the loop I just tried to keep the throttle down. I had lost all my water out of my handheld after falling on top of another race, so I had to stop at one point to take a swig of water. I came through the finish line a winner and feeling pretty dang beat up. My legs felt smashed, and I was super hungry. Either way, first trail race was a complete and total success!

Fast forward to two weeks later. I flew out to Richmond, Virginia to work at the XTERRA East Coast Championship Triathlon & Trail race. I knew I needed to get a good long run or workout in and was glad that the race organizers gave me a bib for the 21k trail race.

It seemed as though I couldn’t get any breaks from the heat coming out to Virginia. The start of the race was at 8 am and was already 80 degrees when the cannon went off. The first mile entailed circling around the outside of the trail and climbing this massive set of stairs that was so steep I had to crawl up it. The next 10-11 miles was through single track trail that rolled pretty well.

”ON YOUR LEFT.. THANK YOU” was the same phrase that kept being repeated as I powered through the second loop of the race. The last part of the race was the most interesting/toughest. I was moving pretty good through the trail until I came upon this opening where we had to cross the James River. It was there that I realized how severely under trained I was for boulder jumping. Jumping across the boulders gave me a new appreciation for explosive power that I was lacking. Upon finishing the boulders off, I climbed this short ladder and got back onto the trail and headed towards the finish about a mile away. I was so glad to come away with a win and do it in such rough conditions.

Two trail races, two victories. These races are only getting me stronger for the bigger goal, the Olympic trials in February next year. So onward to that!

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